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Check it out: Immobilized in a mobile world, a challenging time

By Jodi Schultz / For the Enterprise

We often need to lose something, at least temporarily, in order to recognize the valuable role it plays in our daily lives.

Recently, for most of a work day, we lost the capacity to do much of our computerized work. When this happens we do our best to continue providing the services to which our patrons have grown accustomed.

Even so, we are limited, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. People are taken aback when we tell them we aren’t able to access their library records to see when an item is due. They are caught off guard when we say we cannot check our catalog for a certain author or title.

The longer we are without access to our platforms and programs, the further behind we fall. The crowd persists, the phone rings incessantly, and we find we are equipped to help with only the most basic requests.

After word spreads that our systems are down, the traffic slows. Soon we are pacing the office, looking for jobs to do that don’t require the disabled parts of our computer system.

Email correspondence is not an option. We can’t scan returned items to clear them from our patrons’ records, and since they’re still checked out, we can’t place them back on the shelves. Our offline circulation tool has been activated and we’re limping along with that.

The previous day’s returns have been shelved, the current day’s delivery sorted. Items have stockpiled, filling our book carts and counter space to overflowing. With progress thwarted our daily operations grind to a halt. There is work to be done everywhere we turn, but we’re unable to do it.

At some point we disperse and rediscover the non-virtual projects that are part of our work, and we settle into a non-computerized rhythm.

Finally, the clicks and whirs of electronics alert us to the fact that our power has been restored. We scramble to re-enter passwords, restart programs and begin clearing the log jam that was created while we were immobilized in a very mobile world.

The phone resumes its ringing, the doors open, and patrons pour in to take care of their library business.

I’d like to say that a raucous celebration ensues with much dancing and laughter, but I’m afraid you’d call my bluff. It’s a library, after all, not a children’s book.

There is, however, quiet celebration. People nod pleasantly to one another and smiles abound as everyone, no matter their place on the technological literacy scale, takes a moment to appreciate the wonders of technology and the way it affects our everyday lives.