If libraries have really changed over the years, then it has
been as a result of how information is delivered to us all.
Yet the way in which books are taken in or out of Libraries is
only now starting to change: –
thanks to the introduction new library equipment.
Yet the issues around the use of self issue and self return
machines within libraries are never fully understood by most
people who use libraries, or even the library workers who use
– Many people view such machines a threat to jobs.
– Yet others view them as a way in which they take away the
regular human contact that they have with those who work
The truth is that far from being a threat to jobs,
such machines can liberate those of us who work in libraries,
and we can now really use the information skills which we all
It also means that library staff are freed up from a lot of
very repetitive work, and thus can spend more time in helping
people with their information needs.
There is also another issue which kicks in here.
Books are not those lightweight paperbacks which people
imagine library workers float about with all day.
– Books are made of paper.
– Paper can be very heavy.
– Books are made of Paper.
– Books can be heavy.
– A Lot of books can be very heavy.
Now just image what it can be like to lift a lot of books each
and every day of your working life.
I still remember how my arms ached the first few weeks I
worked within a library some 37 years ago.
This was the result of spending my working days lifting heavy
I Still have some very well developed arm muscles.
Now just imagine what it must be like to site at a desk and lift
up a couple of very heavy books for several hours a day.
It can put a lot of strain upon ones arm muscles,
and result in repetitive strain injuries ( RSI ) .
If you don’t believe me, then try lifting upon and down a couple
of coffee table books in your outstretch hand while your also
in a seated position.
Just keep doing it for about 10 minutes, and you will start to
realise just what a pain it is to spend all day issuing &
returning library books.
That’s why we should all rejoice in the use of self issue &
self return machines within libraries.
As I write this there is an ongoing public & trade union
opposition to these machines being introduced in to the
libraries of the London Borough of Camden.
This is all very silly!
What trade unionists should realise is that It’s not a
management trick to cut jobs.
It is trade unionists which should be demanding that All
Libraries have such technologies installed within them,
as it is a way to protect all library works from RSI.
This really needs to be said,
both by library workers,
all other library users.