Photocharging is my earliest library memory. I can remember as a tiny child looking up at the lights on the equipment as the librarian took a photograph of my library card along with the numbered transaction cards and the book pockets at the old Coolangatta library. I also remember the colourful chairs in the children’s area. There were four of them, each a different primary colour + green, black frames with coloured cords. But that’s not relevant to the topic at hand.
Much later on when I started work in a library, fresh from my very last undergraduate subject and with the hope of imminent postgrad external library studies, I actually got to see the photocharging experience from the other side of the desk.
It was pretty tedious on those very busy Saturday mornings prior to a long weekend when the queue was enormous and we were only open for 3 hours. Open books to the pocket, put a stamped transaction card on it, put the library card in place, take a photo. Close them up, put the next batch on take a photo. Thank the customer and wish them a happy day.
But, even more tedious was the secret librarian’s business in the back office after those returned transaction cards had been sent off to the electronic data processing unit (no idea where they were located), keyed in to some system, and then a list of missing transaction numbers returned to us. Additionally the film had to be sent off for processing. It was returned to us and then with list of missing numbers and microfilm set up for reading we got to work hunting through the pictures to see whose card was photographed with those missing transaction cards. We rolled the letterhead into the electric typewriter and typed up the name and address on the card and the list of book titles. These were then checked against any recently returned cards and those still not found were posted off in the snail mail. Voila overdue notices.
But, getting back to those chairs….
Like this, but no arms, black frames all in one piece. Maybe like this…
And, one more thought. There is no wikipedia article on photocharging and the article on Library Circulation is paltry. How about #LiSWikAug wherein librarians team up to write up some library and information science articles that are non-existent or lacking in wikipedia??? Anyone???