Upstate Update - Winter 2008
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In this issue:
- About Your Request List
- No Notes, Please
- Multipart Cassette Books
- One Title, Several Authors
- Helen Keller
There was a time, long ago, when good library service depended on an extensive request list, for this was the essential "fuel" that kept your service going. For borrowers who needed help choosing books, we used to have a lot of volunteers, as well as staff, spending a great deal of time adding appropriate titles to request lists, based on what we knew of your reading tastes.
Since the early 1980s we have had a computer system that can, for borrowers who permit this "Automatic Selection" (sometimes referred to as "Profile Selection") maintain service by choosing books for those with empty or inadequate request lists. For this kind of service we still need to know the kinds of books you like, but now our computer can keep your service going by matching subject-encoded books with your similarly encoded reading interests. In this way we can "keep the pot boiling" and send appropriate books to people who are due for service but who find it difficult to pick out books for themselves, or have problems contacting us.
We hope the remarks below about your personal request list will help you get good service. Remember, if you have any questions about this, or any other service needs, contact us directly at (800) 342-3688.
- We encourage you to send in your own book orders even if you allow us to choose for you. It’s usually better to get a book you picked out than the computer’s selection, and your own orders will get priority handling. We will choose for you only when none of your choices is available. If you prefer to get only the specific titles you order, then it’s really essential that you send lists that are adequate to support your personal reading pace.
- Depending on your personal basic book supply, we recommend that you maintain a list of at least 50 titles, and more if you like bestsellers and other popular works. Remember to "top up" the list as you receive and return the books. If you have a high "maximum" or a fast turn-over because you read a lot, you’ll need to send book orders more often. To choose your books, use our cumulated catalogs, the bimonthly Talking Book Topics, and request books you want by author and title. You can also access our online catalog and add books to your request list that way. For more information on this, call us at (800) 342-3688.
- Remember that you can’t rely on the books you want being available when you want them. We have tens of thousands of borrowers and, even though we get multiple copies of recorded books, it’s a lot of people to be sharing the books with. Sometimes we’ll get a request list and all copies of the titles on it will be in circulation. The sender doubtless thinks they have a good list, though in fact there may be nothing on it that we can send. The longer your list, the better the chance of something on it being available.
- Having an adequate request list just means that we will send "something" that you have asked for. Since what’s sent from your list is chosen based on various random factors, we can’t promise that a certain book on your list will ever be mailed in the automatic operations. If there is a title that interests you especially, it’s best to ask us to send that right away.
- As with most things, moderation is best. Some borrowers have a very large number of requests—many hundreds in some cases—and they keep adding to it with every edition of Talking Book Topics. We certainly recommend a long enough list to ensure a regular book supply, but when a list gets too long it’s easy for a book that you are keen to read to get "buried" and never accessed as part of the normal due-for-service process. In other words, just because you have ordered a book, it doesn’t mean that you will ever receive it, and the odds of this happening increase with the length of your list of requests.
Please don’t put notes inside the book mailing containers, and don’t write on the address card. This is not a reliable way to contact us. If you need to tell us something about your library service, contact us separately. You can talk to a staff member toll-free at (800) 342-3688.
A few of the books that we lend are so long that they come in more than one mailing container. This is when the recording requires more than six cassettes. Unfortunately, our experience is that these multipart books often cause problems, for you and for us.
The RC number on all parts of a multi-container book is identical, with a letter added to show which part is which; for example, RC 57846A is part one and RC 57846B is part two. A really long book will have a C and perhaps a D container too.
When we send you a multipart book, we mail all the parts at the same time. We have no way of knowing which container will arrive first, so if you get the second part first, just hang on to it and wait for part one. Sometimes we will get back part two right away because the borrower has assumed it’s a mistake. This is often quickly followed by a plea to re-send it because part one has arrived!
When you return the book, please send all parts at the same time, taking time to ensure that you replace all the cassettes in the correct container. When a book consists of numerous cassettes, it’s even more difficult to keep them all straight, so extra care is needed. We suggest that you have only one container open at a time to prevent cassettes getting in the wrong container. We check all returned books, but your help at this stage is appreciated.
We’d like to make you aware of NY-ALERT, New York’s All-Hazards Alert and Notification System. This web-based portal allows state and local governmental agencies to provide emergency information to you in a variety of ways. You can receive details of severe weather emergencies, road and bridge closures, and recommended protective actions in any and all of these ways: e-mail, home telephone, work telephone, cell phone, fax, pager, and on the web. You can also choose the locations from which you want to get the information: your town or village, county, region, or statewide. To receive this free service you must register with NY-ALERT. To do this, and to get more details, go to this website: www.nyalert.gov.
You don’t have to know a book’s RC or BR number to order a book, though this is the best way to do it. We have many thousands of titles so you shouldn’t check your catalogs for a book, just ask us for it. However, when you ask for a book and you don’t know its RC or BR number, please let us have at least the book’s AUTHOR and TITLE.
Please be aware that there are many books that have the same title. When this is all you give us, we sometimes can’t tell which book you want, and there will be a delay while we contact you for more information. For example, there are four books with these titles: Angel, Acts of Love, and A Time to Dance. We have five books called Wildfire, and one Wild Fire.
It’s very easy to find other instances where two or three writers chose the same title: Home Fires, Time After Time, Love and Glory, Flight, Flight of the Falcon, The Island, The Devil to Pay, Day of Reckoning, A Time to Die, Dark Angel, Northern Lights, Angel Fire, Fear, Home Ground, Fire and Ice, Magic, Fire From Heaven, The Hidden Heart, Eden Burning, The Secret, and many more.
Please give both authors and titles to help us fill your requests as quickly and efficiently as possible!
Deaf and blind from infancy, Helen Keller (1880-1968) played a leading role in the most significant political, social, and cultural movements of the last century. She was the first deafblind person to graduate from college, and the story of how a remarkable teacher broke through the child’s isolation and language barrier, allowing her to communicate and to flourish, has become a staple of American folklore. Keller worked tirelessly to improve the lives of those who shared her condition. Her approach to life can be summed up in the advice she gave to a five-year-old blind child in 1932: " Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the face."
For information on this remarkable person, go to the website of the American Foundation of the Blind (www.afb.org) and follow the "Helen Keller" link. Here you can explore photographs and letters in the Helen Keller Archives, visit the Helen Keller Kids’ Museum Online, read her autobiography, find out about her teacher, Anne Sullivan Macy, and more.
Note that, having been born in Tuscumbia AL, Helen Keller is depicted on the Alabama state quarter, issued in 2003, with her name in print and braille.
Mention of a product or service in this newsletter does not constitute endorsement by this library. Our intention is to increase an awareness of programs, services, and products that may be helpful to our patrons.