Saturday, August 15, 2009

Who would have thought it would be hard to get info from the Louisville Free Public Library.

If I had to pick one resource in Jefferson County/Louisville that I could NOT live without, it would be the public library. Since moving to Jefferson County I'd estimate that I've checked out at least a 1000 or more books from the library for the family, including dozens for my daughter, an avid reader.

Because of this, the news of the library flooding during our heavy downpours in Louisville two weeks ago had me feeling pretty blue. I was angry that the library put all of these things where a flood could damage them, but realized that this was such a freak accident that the library probably assumed they were safe.

That said, I am worried at what appears to be some real issues with disaster planning at the library. From what I've been able to gather from the kind people at my local branch, the following issues exist:

  • There is no/limited ability to access member accounts. My library indicated they were using every available space to store returned books because they couldn't check them back in.
  • Account backups were done once a month. WHile I'm not sure if this is accurate, if it is, it means that a month or more of account info about every patron could be completely wrong. Books that should be checked in could be listed as out, those that are out could be listed as having been returned, etc.
  • Library workers have been told NOTHING. They are frustrated at the lack of information.
  • There appears to be a huge looming problem for the library once they get back online of not having anywhere near an accurate accounting of what is out and what has been returned, nor what people owe. This could result in hours and hours of work to fix the issues manually, lost fines, customers being overcharged, and worst of all, more lost books for the LFPL.
  • Disaster planning for returning operations to normal seems to be lacking. Perhaps there were redundancies built into LFPL's systems in case of catastrophic failure, but it seems as though if there were, they would be up by now.
As a taxpayer and library lover, I think that once this is over, the public deserves a full accounting of what went wrong and why. It also deserves to know what steps are being taken (or are recommended) from preventing or minimizing the effects of such a disaster in the future.

I wish the library and its workers the best of luck in dealing with this mess. Mostly I want everything back up for my own selfish needs.


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