An Open Letter to TUBDFTL Patrons # 3

As the first of December, and the attendant resumption of dubbing services, looms but a week away, I'd like to take just a moment of your time to bring a few issues to you attention and give you an idea as to what you might expect over the next six months.
Though a modest backlog of uncatalogued material remains, most goals have been attained and Library dubbing services will resume on schedule. Library policies and procedures will, for the most part, remain unchanged, though they will be much more rigorously enforced.

As the Library has experienced such explosive, and unanticipated, growth since the last closing in May, matters that were once minor annoyances now seriously threaten the efficient operation of the Library. To illustrate the dilemma, I must first give you an idea of the magnitude of the growth.
At the end of the Library's first year and a half of operation, back in May, the Library boasted roughly 500 patrons. Today there are well over 900 Patrons (102 new since 10/01/97) . Since reopening, on the first of June, the Library has serviced over 500 (261 since 10/01/97) requests and dubbed better than 1400 (377 since 10/01/97) tapes. The figures for dubbing do not include requests that were serviced by "Volunteer Librarians" or tapes dubbed to satisfy swaps.

Without doubt, the most serious problems revolve around failures to follow Library procedures. These procedures were not implemented as a gauntlet through which a Patron must suffer in order to obtain tapes, but rather to facilitate efficient servicing of Patron requests. For example, probably the most disruptive of these is having tapes arrive after the authorization has expired. As available dubbing equipment is very limited (more on that in a bit), it is critical that those resources be exploited to the maximum extent possible. Though requests are referred to "Volunteer Librarians" regularly, it is only when the anticipated work load exceeds in house capabilities. Tapes that fail to arrive when they are expected (and dubbing time has been allocated to service the request) result in idle equipment. When they show up, after the authorization has expired, they often tax a system that is already operating at capacity. Failure to follow other procedures may not impose such serious consequences, but be assured that each instance adds to a collective burden that becomes increasingly difficult to bear.

I would be remiss if I failed to revisit the plea made for surplus dubbing equipment back in June. I'm afraid the response was even less than underwhelming. Not a single response. Consequently, plans are in the works to generate enough cash to acquire enough equipment to get through the short term. The scheme under consideration is to peddle Free Tape Library T-shirts at an exorbitant price (probably around $20 each) and use the proceeds to acquire the needed hardware. In the interim, I'll do the best I can with the hardware that remains functional, and though repugnant, add a couple of very low end "Boom Boxes" to the dubbing queues. Though I'm afraid that the resultant quality will likely be something far less than what you've grown to expect, I think this course is far better than the alternatives.

On the positive side, I've rewritten much of the software that drives the Library to further automate the system and expand the role of "Volunteer Librarians". Along that line, there will shortly be an "Help Wanted" page on the web site, complete with job descriptions. You will be invited consider the positions available and, if so inclined, apply for one or more of them.

In closing, I'd like to express my appreciation to those that have been so supportive, and voice a very well deserved and heart felt "Thank You" to the "Volunteer Librarians" that have worked so hard on your behalf.

As always, I invite your input and will be looking forward to hearing from you come Monday next
Until the next time, Take Care!
Simon.
11/24/97

The Unofficial Bob Dylan Free Tape Library