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No Holds Barred

Reader Cynthia sends in this link to the Milwaukee Public Library “holds” page. Apparently, they won’t be allowing holds anymore (starting in Jan ’08) on the following:

1. All feature films and television programs on DVD and VHS
2. Music CDs in the young adult and adult collections

There’s an FAQ here.

The library cites budget constraints for the decision.

I’ve always wondered what makes these materials different from books. Not as much of them? More popular?

4 Responses to “No Holds Barred”

  1. GeekChic
    December 17, 2007 at 10:51 pm #

    CDs and DVDs are definitely treated differently (VHS, not so much anymore) at all of the public libraries I’ve work for or assisted. As you’ve noted, there are typically fewer of them (more expensive – especially if you by sets or public performance rights) but they are much more popular.

    However, the biggest issue with these items (holds and checkouts) is actually handling them due to security issues. Books and security strips work well together – security strips and discs, not so much. Thus, libraries resort to various methods to secure the discs that take a lot of staff time (like security cases and two box systems). Unfortunately, simply leaving them out ensures they will be stolen (and in some cases pawned). Having said that, I think our patron would revolt if we took holds away from those materials.

  2. Terry Dawson
    December 18, 2007 at 7:41 am #

    Seems like a tough decision to reduce support for recreational or entertainment library use. It’s a concern how much resources get used in moving these materials around. If it’s a choice between reducing one thing or another, would you rather do this or close the reference desk on weekends? We used to call this program budgeting. I hate that they did this, but I can understand — maybe the patrons will revolt and call for more funding!

  3. heidi
    December 18, 2007 at 8:33 am #

    I found this comment interesting:

    “Of the growing number of holds requests received by the library, media requests represent a significant portion and require considerable staff time to locate and process.”

    I wonder just how much staff resources they are saving by not allowing holds on these items. I know when a hold on a popular item comes back from another patron it automatically gets routed to the next patron, which I find considerably easier than hunting down the material on the shelf for the patron.

    We also don’t have security systems in our branches so we keep our DVDs in sleeves behind the desk. Patron holds are actually faster for us because we don’t have to grab the item out of the sleeve each time the patron checks it out. That item is already on the holdshelf and ready to go.

    Maybe they could use their savings to reinvest in some more efficient processing procedures.

  4. Kevin
    December 19, 2007 at 3:01 pm #

    Our library system does not place holds on new popular books that can only be checked out for 7 days. Nor do we place holds on new DVDs which can only be checked out for 3 days.

    We do not do this for several reasons. One reason is this. Once an item is on hold for a specific customer, that customer has 7 days to pick up the item. If we allowed holds on these popular materials, these materials would spend a majority of their time on the hold shelf waiting for customers to retrieve them. Instead, why don’t we just put them on a public shelf where they will be checked out instantly.

    So, in the end, the main difference between these materials and others is an imbalance in the supply and demand.

    The Librarian in black has a decent post explaining another reason why offering holds on popular materials can be troublesome. Basically, you create a “black market” for popular materials that never make it to the shelf. Customers who mainly browse the shelves do not get their fair shot at obtaining the material.

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