Grazing the commons
Muse #561 - of the library kind
My daughter loves reading paper books and prefers to borrow them from the city libraries. She loves holding the crisp paper books in her hand while reading. As for me, I occasionally buy paper books when they are not available in electronic audiobook or ebook form, and even if so I prefer to buy the cheapest version of used books. And that is me.
Everything was fine until the pandemic changes things. The libraries were closed for a while and the borrowers were told to hold the books. After a year of the pandemic, the libraries started opening back up again, but all fines and late fees were waived. As well as all outstanding library dues were written off. These are good things that the city did.
But suddenly last week my daughter received a mail that a couple of her books were overdue and she will be charged the exorbitantly high full price for them. We were talking about that ask from the city library. I presumed that this was not about money and about the common good. In those days, the commons would be used to graze cattle but someone would overgraze the common taking advantage of the others. And from that governance and law evolved. So, I pointed out that perhaps it was about equitable use rather than anything else.
And yes, that was true. When she called the library she was told that on the return of the books, the dues would be wiped out. And if there were no hold on the books, then one might be able to borrow them back again to continue to use them. So it was about equitable use.
But then again the approach used by the library is one way of doing it. If carefully thought out, there might be other ways to do it too. Without the hassle of the trip.
Hold the book up to a camera to confirm you have it, or scan its UPC and it could be extended if there is no hold on it by others. Right from home. If we put good thinking into it, several additional ideas might arise as options. Arent we in the 2020s after all, in the midst of the technology age? And technology can be used to improve customer experiences (and the librarian experiences while at it) by solutions that use thinking outside the box. There is a lot of talk about digital, but where are these experiences?