She peered over at me, eyebrow raised, and asked, "how old are you?"
Unprepared to answer such a personal question, I stumbled and paused, mouth opened.
"Thirty-five," I responded. "Is there an age limit?"
"Oh! No, but you have to be eighteen."
I blushed. I was standing at the reference desk at the Humboldt County Library in Eureka, CA, trying to sign up to use a public computer. PC reservation is such a hot topic, and I wanted to learn how it worked at this library. At Humboldt County Library, the first step is getting a Guest Pass, and then walking over to the Reservation Computer.
I made a reservation for the next available computer--#8--and wandered over to the bank of computers to stake out the computer I'd be using. Even though #8 was busy, 4 computers (out of 8) were not in use. Curious, I looked on each screen to see what was going on. Each computer was reserved for a future time, and each patron hadn't shown up.
What I've learned from libraries is that there are kinks and bumps with PC Reservation systems, and as one librarian said, "the whole system is very dependent on reading what's on screen. And no one reads any of it." She added that the time gained from upgrading to a computerized system has been lost due to patron and staff training. What was once a pencil and paper operation for patrons is now an issue of computer literacy.
This is a BIG issue! I'd love to hear more about what libraries are learning.