ASSOCIATES (2004, July, v. 11, no. 1) -

[Editor: Joanne's first contribution was titled "Ode to a Dress Code," featuring the dapper Sir Samuel Smithers, an impeccable gent, from his feet to his withers, and can be read at <> in Associates (1994, November, v. 1, no. 2)]

*Where Do I Park My Flying Car? A Blueprint for George Jetson’s Library*


Joanne Leary
Head of Access Services
Engineering /Mathematics/Physical Sciences Libraries
Cornell University

I think we’d all agree that libraries have changed a lot in the past ten years. In 1994, the Internet and email were still mysterious incorporeal entities to a lot of us. Now, they are a part of our lives to a degree that would have been unimaginable a decade ago.

The truth is, today’s incomprehensible ideas have a tendency to become tomorrow’s reality, so what might we expect for libraries in the next 10 years? Will our Library Management Systems exploit the latest technologies? Confidentiality is less certain than ever in these days of network security breaches and increasing government scrutiny, and is bound to become even more tenuous – how will we safeguard privacy? How about truly progressive human resources policies for library employees?

Herewith are nine incomprehensible but innovative ideas for the Library of 2014:

Circulation and Collection Management Improvements:

1. Quantum encoding for circulation transactions. Confidentiality at its finest and most secure. Based on the principles of particle entanglement, encoded information is completely impervious to decryption. Works in any universe up to ten dimensions.
2. EEG checkout. Operates in conjunction with your quantum LMS. Who needs an ID card when you can use brainwaves? Patrons need only think about the books in hand to check them out. Simplifies sending overdues, too! Patrons receive an intercranial reminder, and unless they're dead, will never again be able to claim they never got an overdue notice.
3. Fine Appeal Robot. You've heard it all, and can repeat the excuses in your sleep. Don't you wish you could just turn those appeals over to a robot? Now you can. User-friendly FineBots are bamboozle-proof. Using a matrix of rules and exceptions customized to your library's policies, will serve judgment faster than you can say, "Appeal denied!" (Mercy chip optional, but recommended.)
4. SmartStack Collection Management System:
* Self-sorting stacks. Every day after closing, stack sensors automatically scan RF tags in books to detect misshelves, which are pushed into a re-sort bin by an integrated cam drive. Bin servos sort books into correct call number order and align them in a reshelving hopper. Human shelvers complete the task the next morning.
* Shift calculator. Stack sensors detect when a shelving area is nearing capacity. Automatically calculates the available linear footage within a defined radius of the problem area, and factors in rate of growth, composition of collection, items in circulation and projected usage to arrive at an optimum shift strategy and timetable.
* Weed-o-Matic. This plug-in application recommends items for withdrawal from the collection or for transfer to an offsite facility, based on usage count, publication date, accession date, and dust build-up.

Enlightened Human Resources Policies and Staff-sensitive Facility Improvements:

1. Sick and Tired Leave – for those days when you just can’t face another minute of the same old grind.
2. Clement Weather Policy – for those days when it’s just too beautiful to come to work.
3. Car Leave – sick children are not the only reason you need to take time off! Take your car in to the repair shop with a clear conscience.
4. Library Spa – on-the-job mental and physical rejuvenation for employees. For less than the cost of an annual subscription to a dozen Elsevier journals, your library can have a sauna, eucalyptus-scented steam room, and professional masseuse. Yoga classes, Pilates, herbal teas and soothing music insure the mental health of staff and administration alike. Can be installed in the Periodicals room (who needs paper when everything is electronic?), the copier room (those copier stats have been going down for years, haven’t they?), or the basement storage area (when you move all those low-use paper materials to the off-site Annex).
5. Natural lighting and materials – computer terminals with wooden casing, workstations by windows, skylights in stacks, solar and radiant heating everywhere. Artificial lighting provided by halogen fixtures only; death penalty for fluorescents. Oriental carpets in reading rooms. Spacious bathrooms with copious fresh air ventilation, natural stone or marble surfaces, growing plants, waterfall sculpture, premium brass or nickel fixtures, all kept scrupulously clean and sanitized thorough UV sterilization.

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