9 June 2013

Hold that for me

hold  (həʊld) : to reserve or keep back from use

Phoning library patrons used to be one of the jobs I had to do almost daily in my first library job at Mermaid Waters Library (now Broadbeach Library), to advise them that their requested book was now available for collection. I seem to recall that we would give them a week to collect it as back in those days the public libraries in the Albert Shire (Gold Coast hinterland) were serving largely rural communities and it was often a major outing to get to a library. When I was in my teens I can remember Mum would drive us all the way from Currumbin Valley to Mermaid Waters Library – behind the new Pacific Fair Shopping Centre – our nearest public library. Actually there were closer ones but they were in the Gold Coast City Council area.

Gold Coast Library - Broadbeach

Back to when I was working there (it didn’t look anything like this more recent photograph by Taylex10 All rights reserved)… most of the books on ‘hold’ or ‘reserve’ were collected within a couple of days by those who lived much closer. Prior to the online library system being implemented it was a fully manual process to place a hold on a book, and for library staff to recognise the item when it was returned and put it aside. Yes, we had ‘visi strips’ (or something like that) which we typed the book details onto, before tearing them off the backing paper and putting into a plastic holder. When it was our turn to be on desk we had to look through the list of items on hold – sometimes two pages of these 5mm strips – and try to memorise them so we could look out the titles as we were returning them.

These days the system takes care of that and let’s out a sound and message to the staff member that a returned item is on hold for someone.

Now when i try to find a picture of these strips all I can find are safety tape strips for attaching to hazards. But I did manage to find this patent with diagrams from 1933 (embedded pdf) (metadata).

The challenge is to find a photograph, or take a photograph if you happen to have a stash of old library equipment in your store room, and upload it so we can check this old hold method in all its antiquated glory – comment below. I also can’t find any photos of the old Mermaid Waters Library – even in Picture Gold Coast. None in my personal photos even.