The following account details the experience of a library worker on the introduction of self service kiosks in the library authority where they work:
My service has introduced self-serve into it’s branches and frontline staff are being told to ‘encourage’ users to use it, not just ‘encourage’ but basically force people to use in order to meet targets.
They are also being told that if someone refuses to use then they must take the books etc from them and put them through the kiosks….now this really disturbs me. If someone makes a conscious political or ethical decision not to use the kiosks because they are quite rightly concerned about linked job losses etc then why should we ignore their wishes and that choice? Surely we are here to serve our communities, we are supposed to be user focussed.
A significant proportion of my colleagues feel uncomfortable about doing this but are told to do it, so do it, and some try to offer choice to the user but feel that they are being watched and have to be careful about what they say to the public, which can be very hard sometimes, especially when you have people saying things like,
“Why are you doing this? You’re putting yourselves out of jobs.”
“We didn’t ask for this so why are you forcing people to use it?”
Management sold the concept of self-serve to staff by telling them that it would make their jobs more interesting and free them up to do other things but all we seem to do is deal with queries and technical problems with the kiosks, so it’s a bit of a sham really. I think most of my colleagues know it was really brought in to cut jobs which makes it even harder to swallow.
What is your experience of self service in libraries? Please leave a comment below or email your comment to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can upload it.
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Members, watch out for details of the experience of a library user in the next issue of our magazine, The Library Campaigner, as well as exploration of the thorny issue of volunteers in libraries and The Library Campaign’s persistence in holding Mr Vaizey to account. Issue 88 of The Library Campaigner is due to go to print later this week. If you’d like to receive a hard copy then why not join us? Details here: How to join The Library Campaign – As little as £15 ( £10 concessional rate, and only £20 for a group or campaign) to add your voice and support to the only charity championing libraries.