Announcing new services at the library is one of the utmost spine-tingling joys of our existence. We love to break out the megaphones, ticker tape, wacky, waving, inflatable, arm-flailing tube men, and symphony orchestra to introduce and hawk our wares (figuratively, of course; we like to party, but we are still a library and must remain library-ly some of time, except for those quite frequent times we literally throw raucous parties). Telling you about our new offerings is obviously key and is step 1 in our simple three step program for success, but in order to get from there to step 3 (library-induced satisfaction), there’s the crucial business of us actually delivering the service effectively. What follows is a brief tale of suboptimal execution of public service, or, if you’re not an overly flowery windbag trying to soften the blow of his mistake, an epic fail. If you don’t care about that sort of thing, skip to the last paragraph for an exciting announcement about a new library service (perhaps you should all skip there and spare me some embarrassment).
Last week, someone came in to laminate a couple of things (for full details on laminating at the library, skip to the last paragraph). While in many situations, lamination will be a self-serve-type deal for our patrons, this particular person only had a couple of things, so I took her items back to our workroom for what seemed should be a quick, easy job. I fired up the smaller of our two laminators and let it heat up. I fed the first item, a small poster, through the machine, and it laminated like a champ. When I attempted to take care of the next item, three separate newspaper clippings in one lamination pouch, it laminated like a chump, almost certainly due to the chump operating it, who it turns out should’ve read our new machine’s instruction manual and paid special attention to the section on temperature settings. The pouch never made it through the machine and had to be pulled back out, leaving a crinkly, crumply mess. I Charlie Browned my way out to the patron to have the difficult “so your precious belongings are ruined” conversation. Fortunately, my serving of disappointment was topped with the tangy zest of hope, as the newspaper clippings were from Benbrook News, a publication whose publisher, Suburban News, is thankfully located nearby. I vowed to contact Suburban News and try to secure copies of the clippings I destroyed.
Checking the Suburban News website showed me that their digital archives only go back to 2017, and I needed pictures from 2015 and 2014. D’oh. I called their offices and thankfully was told they keep physical copies of their back issues on site, and I would mercifully be allowed to come look through them. I won’t bore you with the painstaking, play-by-play details of my trip to Suburban News, as I did with my wife, who is well within her rights to tell me to zip it but sweetly did not. To put it somewhat succinctly, after some digging, I was able to find copies of the papers (one for which I had an exact date, the others for which I had a rough ballpark timeframe) I needed. Vee, a wonderful, life-saving staff member there, scanned the pages and emailed them to me. I returned to the library, printed out the scanned copies, cut them out, laminated them (successfully this time), and contacted the patron I had wronged that morning with my bungling. She soon picked up her laminated pictures and said she was happy with them, and I’m grateful to her for being exceedingly calm and understanding about the whole episode.
Admittedly, this is a pretty bizarre way of announcing that the library is now the proud owner of two laminating machines, and we’re glad to offer our patrons the ability to laminate! We have a small machine for which we have letter and ledger size laminating pouches, and for those we charge 50 cents and $1, respectively. We also have a large machine that can handle poster size lamination, and for it we charge $6 for a 24” x 36” poster, $4 minimum for smaller posters, and 25 cents per linear inch beyond 24” x 36”. Regardless of what the preceding story of incompetence and redemption may have you believe, we do want you to come to the library for your lamination needs and are confident you’ll have a good experience. Why include the story at all? I suppose because a) the purpose of this space is at least partially to share interesting snippets of library life, and my lamination misadventure seems to fit that bill, and b) it serves as a cautionary tale, the takeaway from which is it’s not a bad idea to have a digital or physical backup copy of anything you’d like to laminate, because when it comes to people and machines, clearly, accidents can happen. We of course don’t want to ruin your things, and we most likely won’t (an inspiring slogan if there ever was one), but backup safety measures are always a good idea when possible. You know. Just in case.