I ♥ Patron Requests (pt. 1)
However, once a library has a process for something, changing it seems to require three signatures, a vial of blood, an act of God, six meetings, two "meetings" after the meetings, and a 1989 quarter. And that is before you even get to the assumption that, once rules are in place, people will follow them: patrons OR staff.
I think most librarians agree (don't we?) that customer/patron input into the collection is essential.
But are there limits? Should there be?
In a misplaced sense of "service" do we overstep our boundaries?
Our patron request mechanism is online and form based. Please put in your library card number, please fill out this info, thank you very much. It has evolved over the years. When I first started, there were no limits on what you could request or how many. Those requests came right to your email, and we did respond back to each and every request. On the one hand, that was great for passing along information. "I'm sorry, your request is out of print." Or "We have that, but it was originally published under this title." Or any other number of responses you wanted to pass on to patrons. Now, the messages might be "I'm sorry, that book is in e-format only, and not available through Overdrive." On the other hand, the problem with a response to every rejection is that, more often than not, it led to a lengthy conversation. "WHY do you wait for the US release instead of purchasing from the UK/Australia/Singapore/etc where it is out now?" "Yes, I understand why you would want a representative collection for THAT musical artist that I don't like, but for MY favorite, you should have everything!"
And, come on, I've already talked to you about Sex a Baller, right? It isn't difficult to explain why this doesn't fit our collection policy, but that doesnt mean the answer is accepted. There were times when conversations about a single item could go on for days. There were also times when, quite frankly, patrons behaved badly. If you've heard library horror stories of patrons acting up, you know what I'm talking about.