Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Technology advances

First of all you have to know that I "heart" the Salt Lake County Library System. You have access to like a million different libraries and you just pick a book, put it on hold anywhere you want it, and go pick it up. It's fantastic!

Anyway, I had a book on hold, and went to pick it up last night. Pulled it off the hold shelf, and went to use the self checkout. Now, I've used my fair share of self checkouts before, but nothing like this. It's just a touchscreen computer, and no scanner or anything else. I fancy myself somewhat of a computer literate person and thought I'd have no trouble with the cool checkout system. So, I push the "touch screen to start" button, and it flashes that I need to put my library card into the counter. Yes, that's right, into a tiny slot in the countertop. So I do. It sucks my card in (not like I'm putting it in and swiping it back out, it just sucks it in. I jump a little (like an old lady who's never had a computer talk to her and it does for the first time), and then decide it's OK that the countertop ate my library card (sounds like a good title for a children's book huh?). In the meantime I had set my books down on the counter (while I dug through my purse to find my library card which is topic enough for a whole other blog....) then, the screen pops up with a notification that I have a book on hold. I'm thinkin' man this computer is pretty dang smart, knows who I am and what I want to read! I say "OK" because I (like the computer) already knew that I had a book on hold and had even located it on the hold shelf all by myself. The computer tells me which books I have selected. Keep in mind that only one of the books I had was on hold, and as far as I knew, the computer had no way of knowing what other books I had wandered around and selected from the shelves. But it knew, right off the top of it's head. It popped up with the title, author, and isbn on each book I had. I'm thinkin' Wow, this thing is good! then it pops up with the instructions, that I'm supposed to set each book that I want to check out on the counter in stacks no larger than 4 and it lists them. I look for the barcode reader, and it isn't there, I kinda look around a bit trying to figure out how this is working, maybe it's a really fine tuned scale and it knows the exact weight, or number of pages of each book and figures it out that way. Maybe there's a scanner in the ceiling. Maybe that librarian has extra good vision can read from across the room and is just typing in what the title is to impress people. Maybe there's an x-ray under the counter and it reads the barcode through the counter. Maybe - and the nice male-librarian comes up and asks if it's working.
Me: I look down embarrassed and say "yes, I just wanted to see how it worked, so I was playing with it."
Library-man: "OK, just wanted to make sure it was doing it's job."
Old library-lady: "there are microchips in each book. When you put them on the reader it knows what you have."
Me: Feeling like I'm about 100 years old and should've known that. Thinking this is worse than the time the kid at the grocery store asked me if I "wanted help out to my car with that MA'AM". "Nice."
old library-lady: "Yep, technology has made some pretty significant advances these last few years." Like this is old news and I'm way behind the times.
Me: "Sure has. Thanks for your help!" yeah right, in the last few years, what do you know, you still use bobby pins in your hair! I'm way more technologically advanced than you are, and I know it. I'm the queen of technology, I invented microchips in the books that the scale can read! mean old library lady.

Now wouldn't it be cool if that happened at the grocery store checkout. No more of that annoying voice "an unexpected item is in the bagging area, please remove the item." "item removed from bagging area, please replace the item."


  1. Wow, I haven't been to the library is SO long, lol, I just buy them now. I should go sometime, it sure would save a lot of money. And now someday when I go I can act like I'm all smart and already know that there are microchips in the books :) That is neat. The grocery stores definently need to catch up on that technology.

  2. Amy,

    Well a lot has happened. Catie and I just graduated and we are moving to Idaho where I have a job. We hope to be welcoming our new baby soon. If you get a second call me. Or maybe I will call you since my number has changed.



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