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Library Elf

November 27, 2006

If you don’t like change, and last week’s discussion of new things at the library made you uncomfortable, then stop reading here. We’ve got more.

We recently ordered a couple hundred DVDs to beef up the film collection. Many have arrived and will be on the shelves soon.

Starting a film collection has been a challenge for me. I could not seem to articulate what I had in mind, even though it seemed to me that I had an idea. The staff, meanwhile, grew grumpy.

At a recent staff meeting, I threw up my hands (figuratively speaking) and asked staff members to each make a list of ten films they think the library should have, no particular criteria other than excellence of some kind.

Then, Al Tafoya from the local film society dropped by with a Criterion Collection catalog full of check marks. I don’t know if it was coincidence, or if there had been a security leak, but regardless, I ordered those, too.

Film is a big part of our cultural heritage; we should collect it. But I don’t want to collect current popular Hollywood fare. I want someone to be able to make a strong case for adding a film. I want films that have stood the test of time, or that will for good reasons.

Titles range from “Gimme Shelter” to “Great Expectations,” from “Diary of a Chambermaid” to “Diary of a Country Priest,” from “The Gods Must Be Crazy” to “The Gods Must Be Crazy II.” Good stuff. We’ll add more.

Last winter, we modified our meeting room policy … basically to match what we did in practice. The big thing was relaxing the food and drink policy that required a deposit. But the Board of Trustees also realized how much the room is used and decided to upgrade it, and we’re just about done.

In addition to a collection of lightweight folding tables, we have a large screen and a digital projector mounted on the ceiling, plus an audio system with 5.1 Surround Sound and a PA system with microphone. All ready to go … no more fumbling with equipment minutes before a meeting. Nice.

But you’re wondering about The Elf, I know. You could not use The Library Elf until we officially listed our library … and now we have.

You can read about The Library Elf and sign up, but here’s how it works. You create your own LibraryElf account, which includes three vital pieces of information: your library card number, your PIN for your library account, and your email address.

The Elf then regularly checks your account in our library system and emails you notification of books on hold, gives you warnings when books are due, sends overdue notices (it can use RSS feeds, too). We’ll be able to do this kind of service some day … but you don’t have to wait. The Elf is here now.

Discussions about The Elf have centered around library privacy versus customer service, but I don’t see much of an issue. It’s voluntary. You opt in if you want to, the way you do with or Google’s free Gmail.

The company is in Vancouver. Canadians seem nice, but if you get nervous about them knowing what books you read, you can cancel your account, change your PIN, and be safe again.

If you don’t have a PIN set up yet, you’ll need to come visit us to add one. Let The Elf help you.


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