Thursday, July 7, 2011

Changes at the Library

This Indianapolis Observer was surprised to find out this week that library cards now have expiration dates.

At the Indianapolis Marion County Public Library, one must turn up at a branch -- in person and carrying photo identification with correct local address -- once every three years, in order to have a library card.

What's up with that? Not only is this whole expiration thing new (it's the first time that library cards have had expiration dates), but library cards expire faster than driver's licenses, which are valid for six years.



Anonymous said...

This is totally a guess, but the expiration date may have something to do with determining how many people actually use their library cards, vs. just having them - for the sake of justifying and/or securing funding. Because it's considered professionally unethical to retain information about who borrowed what and when after the material has been returned, you're not likely to see previous usage on anybody's account. You'd think there would be a better way of compiling this information, though. Rewriting the computer program to add a check-box that says, "account used in last three years" would require more funds.

Apart from needing your address information for the purpose of collecting fines (and yes, turning those over to collection agencies when you don't comply) funding is also tied to property taxes. So aggregate information about patrons' addresses are important funding statistics as well.

The photo ID is a bit more disconcerting, though. Is the photo actually a requirement? I think it's more likely that photo IDs just generally provide more accurate information.

Indianapolis Observer said...

Yes. Government-issued photo ID is required to be presented IN PERSON every three years.

IMHO, a bit excessive for a library!

shouldhavezagged said...

I don't see what's so wrong about proving one lives in the county for which he/she plans to use county services, e.g. the public library.
I guess that means people without a government-issued photo ID won't be able to renew their cards, and it seems like a utility bill or something should be good enough to prove residency for a library card, but I don't know that that should cause the outrage that I read in your post. Citizens don't need a card to enter the library, just check out materials.

Indianapolis Observer said...

No problem with verifying local addresses periodically. But why every three years? Seems like "make work" for the staff!