Today while on the service desk I had a phone call transferred from circulation. It was a guy who had returned a book but had received a letter stating that he still had the book checked out. He was adamant that he had returned the book and had searched both his home and car to avail. I placed him on hold and then search the whole section and our recently returned shelves. I couldn’t find the book and our page had no recollection of seeing the book recently. Going back to the guy I asked him when he would have returned the book and if it was at this location. He said sometime earlier this month and yes to this location. I told him I would do a claims return and that would take it off his record as being delinquent. He seemed okay with this and understood that it was a onetime deal. But then he went on to ask how he could assure this would never happen again, because it had never happen at his other library.
At this point I was kind of taken back because he also said he took full advantage of the library and supported it. I felt that these two statements didn’t match, usually when this kind of thing happens and the person is a big supporter of the library they usually understand that these things happened and are grateful to be given the benefit of the doubt as well as giving us the benefit of the doubt. Throughout the whole conversation he was very dismissive towards me even though I was trying to help him. Just as easy as I gave him the benefit of the doubt I could have told him he would have to look for the book some more and there was nothing I could do about it. But in the end I knew it was more important to continue an open relationship with this costumer than have him be an delinquent for one book and stop using the library all together.
I assured him that it wasn’t anything personal; it was not as if he was singled out and chosen to be bullied, and that human and computer error happens in all businesses. I couldn’t tell him what went wrong as the book could show up mysteriously under his bed in a day or two. Or it could miraculously show up on a book truck in a month. These things happen, not just at this library but at them all. It might not have happen to him but I’m positive that it happened to another person. We get a lot of books checked in and out every day all day, so we might miss a few. He didn’t really seem to care so I said he could always come in and return his books and watch as they discharge before he left. He thanked me for taking care of it and I said sorry for the inconvenience.
I hope the book shows up and I hope he doesn’t get caught in this situation. I also hope that if you happened to be reading this entry and aren’t in the library system please know that we would rather have the book than have an upset customer. That’s not how we prefer to make money; we would just like to have the books for others, nothing personal.