Wednesday, 2 December 2009


My last visit to Hitchin Library began with me staring in wonderment and fear at a pair of machines, emanating a mysterious blue glow, that stood where once the lending and returning counter had been.

It transpired that these were devices that performed, without the involvement of a librarian, all the basic functions of removing and returning articles from the library, and that they worked by said articles being inserted into a recess, where fiendish technology scanned the identifying barcode and performed the requisite actions. I have to say I was impressed by the new system, which includes a supermarket-style receipt displaying the items one has on loan and their due dates. My one disappointment was that, despite the impression given by their appearance, they could not dispense a semi-decaf skinny cappuccino. With extra chocolate.

My sincere hope is that this development will not result in library staff being laid off but rather being liberated to perform more interesting and worthwhile duties.

This may be vastly naive of me.


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