It’s All About Convenience.

automatedInstructions for using the library’s automated self-checkout system

  1. Swipe card through the scanner on the right.
  2. Now turn your card around and swipe it the right way.
  3. No, like it shows you on the screen, with the magnetic strip going through the slot.
  4. Type in your library PIN.
  5. That’s not it.
  6. You wrote it down and keep it on a little slip of paper in your purse or wallet? What’s wrong with you? Has it occurred to you that if somebody gets it they could check out books in your name?
  7. Type your real library PIN. And try to remember it this time.
  8. Confirm your identity, unless you’re checking out books using someone else’s card in which case shame on you.
  9. Hold book, barcode up, under the laser scanner. Don’t worry. The laser scanner only burns if you keep your hand under it for more than four and a half minutes.
  10. I said barcode up.
  11. Keep the book under the scanner for five minutes.
  12. When the machine makes a fart sound press “REDO”.
  13. Your book is now checked out. Slide it spine down through the demagnetizer to avoid setting off the alarm when you leave.
  14. Proceed to exit.
  15. Turn around and go to the circulation desk because you’ve set off the alarm.
  16. Sheepishly hand the copy of What To Expect From Your Colonoscopy to the oldest person at the circulation desk. You know the one–that gray-haired woman in the pink sweater with her glasses on a chain around her neck.
  17. Look up at the ceiling when she has to call over four other people because she doesn’t know how to use the new system.
  18. Wonder why you didn’t just buy the book. It wasn’t that expensive and you could have had it delivered right to your house. But then you remember the “Customers who bought this also bought…” and it was bad enough just having that in your search history. And what would you do with it once the procedure is over? You don’t want to leave it lying around the house where one of your friends or, worse, your mother is bound to find it. But you can’t bring yourself to throw a book away either.
  19. Take your checked-out book and exit the library.
  20. On the drive home remember that you left the printed receipt with your name and the title of your book at the automated checkout station.

We hope you enjoy the ease and convenience of the library’s automated self-checkout system.

15 Comments

  1. Margot

    Those are excellent instructions! I might add that it won’t work if you scan your Kroger card instead of your library card either. I can say this with some authority since I’ve tried it on at least two separate occasions, if not more.

    Reply
    1. Margot

      Now that I’ve read this a second time, I’m a little sorry you posted it here. I like it so much that I think you should have submitted this for publication, instead of gracing your faithful readers with it. But since it’s too late now anyway, I went ahead and shared it on Facebook.

      Reply
      1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

        Have you ever thought of becoming a literary agent? If not I understand–it must be a pretty thankless job although I’m intensely grateful to you for saying I should have submitted this for publication. And for sharing it on Facebook. By “thankless” I mean that being my literary agent anyway would be a job with zero pay and nonexistent benefits. But if gratitude were bankable you and just about everyone else who comments here would be able to retire to the Malibu beach house of his or her choice.

        Reply
  2. Ann Koplow

    It is convenient for me to tell you, Chris, that my very first job out of college in 1974 was at a company called Computer Library Services Incorporated (CLSI) writing user manuals for librarians. So I believe I have the authority to deem this post quite excellent.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to you for writing user manuals for librarians even though it’s not your current profession. Many of the companies that provide tools to librarians no longer bother with user manuals or even, in some cases, help files. Librarians are expected to figure out without any assistance of any kind how to use the tools provided.
      Writing user manuals may be one of the most undervalued professions out there, as evidenced by the fact that it’s quickly becoming a nonexistent profession.

      Reply
  3. Gina W.

    Hey– have you been secretly taping my activities at the library? You forgot to add, “Curse under your breath when you accidentally scan the actual book bar code instead of the library bar code making the computer freeze up and making you call over a librarian for help”.

    Until recently all “hold” books at our library had to be handed over by a librarian. That’s no big deal except one of the employees was/is a man in a wheelchair so every time I needed my “held” books handed to me, this poor man would have to call over yet ANOTHER employee to get the books, making everyone in line behind me give me the stink-eye for holding up the process. Thankfully you now get your books yourself but I never see the guy in the wheelchair anymore, so I wonder if he got put out of a job. 🙁

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yes, as a matter of fact I have been secretly taping your activities at the library. It’s what librarians do. They collect information for the FBI*.
      Hopefully the guy in the wheelchair had jobs other than handing over the “hold” books, although I kind of wonder why they had him do that in the first place if he had to call over other employees to get the books for him. That just seems unnecessarily inconvenient.

      *Yeah, not really. This is one of my favorite library signs:

      Reply
  4. Kristine @MumRevised

    This reminds me of almost any self check-out there is. The grocery store comes to mind and every f’n time I use that I get the ‘call the attendant’ signal. If I wanted an attendant, I would have used that line. I want to be an independent shopper with no human interaction and the computer made me talk to someone so I resent it. At least, my name isn’t on the receipt when I leave it in the machine. Just my credit card details which is totally fine.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m the same way! Except at my grocery store the message that pops up is “Please wait for an attendant”. And, yeah, if I wanted to wait for an attendant I would have gotten in line. Although I do at least feel like I’m not putting some poor clerk out of a job because, y’know, robots.

      Reply
  5. Shawna

    Super easy to remember!! 😀

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Oh yeah, this is the abridged version. In the full version it starts over from the beginning at nos.48 and 72 because people keep losing track.

      Reply
  6. mydangblog

    Hilarious. And yes, I agree, it’s the same with grocery store self-check-outs, which ALWAYS take longer than just letting the cashier do it for you. Why the hell am I paying for bags AND doing the cashier’s job incompetently?

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      My biggest problem is always finding the damn barcode. And if I have fresh vegetables there’s no way I’m going to go through the whole process of looking up the number, although I’m always kind of curious about how much things that are priced by weight cost. Fresh ginger is $3.99 a pound but I’m buying a piece about the size of my little finger. How does the machine even weigh that? And with some of the more exotic vegetables cashiers get befuddled and I hold up the line because I have to explain what you do with kohlrabi.

      Reply
  7. Judy Chambers

    I have a book with all my pin numbers, pass words, etc. and am consistently losing or forgetting where to find the book. JC

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      With any luck no one else will be able to find it either.

      Reply

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