BRACK: Learning new technical tricks for checking out library books

A self check-out kiosk from Washington state.

By Elliott Brack, editor and publisher   |  Many of us are slow to use modern technology.  Yet it can really improve our lives if we just give it a chance.

We’ll admit that much of my generation is slow in this arena. And while we primarily use the iPhone for just that, simple telephone calls, we also have found it takes amazingly detailed photographs. And its small size easily can be carried out without a strap around your neck like those super-duper single lens reflect cameras, or even the smaller point-and-shoot cameras.

The new technology that has really excited us recently has been through the Gwinnett County Public Library system. While we’ve always enjoyed the easy access that the 14 Gwinnett libraries offer, we have in the past gone to one of the many Gwinnett libraries we were near at the time and picked our books, or CDs.

Yet there’s another way to benefit from the library and its technology, we have found in recent weeks. If there’s a particular item we want, we now access the library through our computer, click the “borrowing” button, then click “catalog.”

Now here’s where it gets easy. While clicking “catalog” will result in three rows of book covers suggested to you which have been recently been reviewed or rated, we pay little attention to them.

We go to the “search by” box, and click the key word  (title, author, subject, series, tag, list, user).  If we want works by a particular author, we input the author’s name, and books by that author will be listed.  More likely if we are searching for a specific book, we put in the title, then click search. And bingo!

If the library has that title, the name of the book pops up.  It may have it in several ways, regular book form, e book, or even large print book.

If that’s the book I want, I check “checkout now.”  The system will then ask you for your user name or library card number, which you input.  (Previously the library had directed you to tell which is your principal library for picking up books. And if you have checked out before, it knows who you are!)  If the book is available, the library will send you an email notice (the next day) that it is ready for pick up. Then you go to the library in a particular pick-up area, and here books or CDs are arranged alphabetically with your name on it and you check out.  You’ve spent only a couple of minutes in the library, unless your want to browse for more.

One reason I’m writing about this is that Sunday afternoon I had exhausted my current reading material from the library, and needed another book, and the library was by then closed. I went through the steps above, found a couple of books I wanted, and since the library was closed, I sought eBooks by a particular author.

Two were available for check out, and within 10-15 minutes (I have some technical problems with my eBook since I don’t use it much), I had the two books downloaded for me to read. I was in business, and ended up reading 50 pages on the eBook that night.

And so convenient, done directly from home on my computer.   (The good part of downloading to an eBook is that you don’t even have to go to the library.)

See, even some of us in this elder generation can learn new tricks!  If you haven’t used the online library checkout, try it. You’ll like it.