Today I helped a person who had called about a book they had placed on hold. They had placed the hold a month ago and were wondering why it was taking so long since (1) it was a title just coming out of popularity and (2) we have a ton of copies in the system. Since she had done it online, this is what the catalog looked like from her perspective:
She had clicked on the first option and made the request on that copy. Unbeknownst to her, since there is only one copy of that edition in the system and it has holds on it, she was placed on the wait list. If she had selected the next one down, she would have hit the checked-in jackpot for her request. I brought up one of the other editions, grabbed it off the shelf for her, and left it where she could come pick it up later.
I can understand why there are multiple entries in the screenshot above; they represent different editions of the book that may have their own unique characteristics and properties. (I’m not talking about the large print or audio book ones; I’m talking about entries 3, 4, 7 and 8.) That makes sense to the librarian part of me. I’m just wondering why the hell we don’t make it easier for our patrons. Something more in lines like Amazon:
It gives you the title and then shows you the format options. Hardback, paperback, mass market, and so forth along with additional options underneath them. It could work as to whether someone wanted just the first book available regardless of the format, a particular kind, or in the case of certain books a particular edition. As the need gets specific, so do the pop-out menus on the item.
I did a little poking around in catalogs from local libraries around me before I wrote this post. From what I can tell, it looks like it depends on the automation software. To me, it begs the question of why anyone would make it harder for people to borrow things from the collection.
To be honest, I’m totally prepared to be told that this is an outdated way of doing things and that the new software handles it better or that it really needs to be addressed. So, please leave a comment and drop me a clue as to where I am in this situation.