#FDL: What happens after you return a library item?

Demystifying Librarian Life – What happens after you return a library item?

Hello, and welcome to another installment of #FDL where we demystify library life and lingo. For this post I went downstairs to the circulation department to talk to one of our circulation and inter-library loan librarians, Theresa Johnston, about what happens to library items after you return them to the library either via circulation desk or drive through book depository. There’s an awful lot that goes into they way library items travel – much like a human body, a library needs a good circulatory system to stay healthy.

At FDL, you can return books inside the library or at a drive through book drop. How often do those depositories get emptied?
The inside book drop gets emptied pretty constantly all day. The drive through book drop gets emptied every hour or so and always first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

Why can’t I put some items in the book drops?
While you can put books, DVDs, and CDs into the book drop, other items have to be returned directly to a librarian, like Launch Pads, puzzles, board games, Rokus, and Speck devices. One of the reasons for this is because some of these things have multiple pieces that we have to count and that should all stay in the same container so nothing gets lost. If a patron puts those items in the book drop, pieces might get separated or broken especially if other items are being piled on top of them. Secondly, some of those items are expensive, and we want to make sure we’re giving the best patron service possible by checking those items back in while you’re in front of this so you can be secure in the definitive knowledge that that item was returned.

How long does it take an item to get from the book drop back to the shelf?
This depends on the time of day and the day of the week in which an item is returned, but most likely within 24 hours. An item is going to get from book drop to shelf more quickly if one of our invaluable pages is on duty to shelve items. But, there are two important things to know in regard to this process:

What happens to items that belong to different libraries? Or items that belong to FDL that I return elsewhere?
One of the great things about the libraries that are part of RAILS is that you can return items to any library within RAILS even if you did not check it out from that same library. For example, if you have an item that belongs to the library in Dunlap, you can return it to FDL. First, the good folks in circulation will check that item in so it is no longer checked out on your library card. Then, they fill out a return label, telling a delivery driver where the item needs go home to. The delivery driver then picks up all items that need to go back to their home libraries and takes them to a delivery hub (the one that serves central IL is conveniently in East Peoria). From there, items are sorted based on where they need to be delivered to. A second delivery driver then takes these sorted items back to their home libraries. While an item is travelling, it is no longer attached to anyone’s library card and considered “in transit.”

What happens if I return an item after the library closes or before the library opens?
People might need to return something at 11:59 on the day it’s due, but unfortunately, FDL isn’t open 24/7. Items that are returned between 9pm and 9am the next day are backdated on a person’s library card to avoid fining them for returning an item when no one is at the library – which isn’t their fault. What that means is, if you return an item at 10pm on say August 1st, the circulation worker who checks it in on August 2nd, still uses the check in date of August 1st.

What happens to items that come back to the library a little worse for wear?
Sometimes, people can be a bit careless with items. Occasionally, libraries have to charge patrons to replace damaged items. However, in the case of easy fixes, like a lightly cracked book spine or a gently scratched DVD, we have repair services. You’d be surprised at how much help tape and glue can be in book repair. If you have a library item that got accidentally damaged, it never hurts to give us a call and ask if it can be fixed.

Post by: Carey Gibbons, Reference Specialist

About #FDL

Welcome to #FDL! #FDL is a twice weekly update on all things Fondulac District Library and East Peoria. Twice a week, library staff will make posts that highlight some aspect of library life and relate it to you – our readers. Have you ever wanted to know which Dewey number represented a certain topic? Are you looking for book recommendations based on your favorite television show or television recommendations based on your favorite book? Have you ever wondered about the secret details of librarian life? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then #FDL is for you. We look forward to writing posts that are informative and entertaining and hope that you enjoy getting better acquainted with Fondulac District Library.


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