I am continuing my posts on jobs that are losing their people. In this case, I am reflecting on our local libraries. In Connecticut where each small town has its own library, a resident can use any local library to check out materials. This means that I have spent time in three nearby libraries lately and noticed the same mystery of the disappearing librarian.
Going to the library has always been a social experience for my husband and me. We always chat with the librarian as we check out books, catching up on each other’s lives. One time when a favorite worker left for another state, we brought dinner to the staff as a goodby thanks. Whenever I had been too alone at home, I could be sure of social interactions at the library. Retirement has its rewards, but it comes with increased social isolation.
But some eager salespeople have convinced each library that it would be better served by self-check machines. Each library bought a different kind of machine, but they all eliminated the librarian. Now the first greeting when I walk into my favorite one is a bank of self-checkout machines. It is accompanied by a self-pickup of books on hold, previously an opportunity to chat with someone about the latest and greatest new books.
I can only imagine that someone convinced the library director that money could be saved by using the machines. That director may have had little interaction with the public and may not have realized the cost in social relations that were incurred with the cost savings of the machines. At any rate, I no longer look forward to my library trips. Now I just go for the books.