Last week I learned how to schedule patrons to visit a prison library while visiting an institution. Patrons once were able to visit the library when ever they pleased when the librarian was working. This had complications for the librarian. When the library’s small space was flooded with patrons, the librarian and staff would be so overwhelmed that the chaotic feeling compromised the efficiency of library and burned out staff.
Now patrons request to visit the library by using request slips on their decks (living quarters). These request slips give the librarians their name and ID number, reason of request (for legal work or to use the leisure library), if they are in school and when, and if they work and when their days off may be.
The librarian then assesses the requests to make a schedule of patrons to visit the library. Around 25 patrons are scheduled in the morning and in the afternoon library sessions. Patrons are scheduled when it best fits their schedule, the time they need to spend in the library (legal research that will be time consuming will be scheduled in the longer session), at a rate that will even out the amount of legal vs. leisure patrons as to not overwhelm law clerks, etc. Patrons that have an upcoming deadline will be scheduled for multiple days in a row upon their request.
Once the schedule is made, the schedule is entered into a system that will produce what is called call slips. Each patron is given a call slip which acts as a permission slip to walk through the institution to the library.
This system seems to work better than the chaotic open library, but around 1/3 of patrons do not come to their library scheduled time. This may be for a reason out of control of the patron. The librarian puts a lot of their weekly time into creating call slips, so this system could be revamped to work better for the librarian and patrons.