i'm going to try to keep this brief. because you know how i get about 1) libraries and 2) things that are fucked up.
yesterday, i had to return some books to the library. i didn't have anything that i wanted to pick up at the main MLK library downtown (or, more precisely, anything that i could pick up, since the book that was allegedly "available" and that i put on hold a month ago is still nowhere to be found), so i called to see if i could return them to the capitol hill branch not far from my apartment. i could. great.
i swing by after work and go in. the library is in an older building, brick, actually nice and library-ish-looking (unlike MLK, which though designed by van der rohe still manages to seem like a garish monstrosity-type thing). but it's small. very small. like no more than twenty small stacks and two long walls of books. apparently, it has also recently gotten a makeover. fancy new carpet, lots of new computers, these crazy stacks with giant glass pictures of flowers on the ends. flowers? yes. ok.
so i walk back through the stacks to find a book the catalog told me was available at this branch (you know i couldn't walk into a library and not take something home with me!). the book is not where it should be. i am completely and utterly unsurprised. i head back to the desk and say hey, i'm looking for this book. the librarian starts to take me back to the stacks, and i say "yeah, i already took a look where it's supposed to be, but it's not there." she says, "oh, well then it probably got taken out when they did the remodel. they haven't updated the database."
i try to process for a second. "what exactly do you mean by 'taken out when they did the remodel'?" she says, "oh, well when they re-did this library they took out all the books that were old, raggedy, torn - a lot of 'em. you probably noticed that the shelves are only half full and all the books we've got are newer copies. however, for some reason, they neglected to update CityCat [the online catalog for the DC system] after they did that."
so. to summarize: the district of columbia spent what was certainly some ungodly amount of money to renovate this tiny neighborhood library, and then they took out half the books. they took books. out of a library. (presumably to distribute them to other, less pretty city library branches, but still.)
and then - then! - they neglected to tell the people who use the library about it. so the moral of the story is, on top of the total ineffectiveness of the Hold function and the fact that MLK is literally falling apart, you can now be assured that the information you find on CityCat only has a mild to moderate chance of being accurate.
DC: so much to love.