Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Thin End of the Wedge


Last Friday (2 January 2015), circa 11:30, I attempted to leave the Reference Library of Tunbridge Wells library and found the door next to Microfilm Reader 1 bolted and a black electrical cable (presumably belonging to the person then sitting at this Reader) on the floor in front of it.

Upon unlocking it, the female using the Reader insisted I could not egress via this door for health & safety reasons, without specifying:

  1. What these were;
  2. why she had the right to block a Fire Exit; nor,
  3. why the Health & Safety issues she was raising were the ones she was causing by blocking a Fire Exit.

If, for example, a door is not clearly marked Closed or Out of Order or Private, I see every reason to use it - should it be convenient to do so.

I told her to go fuck herself because the library is a public place (not an extension of her home) and because she has no explicit permission to block public doorways for her sole benefit. (She began laughing at me and I walked around to the other entrance door in front of the Reference Reception.)

It is becoming increasingly-noticeable that Caucasians are behaving as though the library were their personal fiefdom - to the detriment of other users. Why do they think they are allowed to arbitrarily block doors without any kind of signage or warning - whenever they feel like it? Perhaps they will start bringing in camp beds to help engender the at-home feel and sense-of-entitlement that so many already possess?



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Friday, 2 January 2015



I booked PC19 on the ground floor of Tunbridge Wells library on Friday, 19/12/2014 for around 09:10 - before ascending to the first floor.

I was a few minutes early and found another customer logging-in to PC19 – despite the computer indicating only a few minutes were available. He logged-off when the computer indicated – again - he had less than 10 minutes computer time available to him and made for the Reference Library Reception desk.

I then logged-on to PC19 and was accosted (see annotated transcript below) by this same customer who believed he had prior access to a PC at which he was not sitting and which he had not booked.

He claimed he was somehow ‘on’ that particular computer while standing at Reception (I did not notice he had such long arms!) and despite the fact the PC screen clearly displayed the words: “This machine has been booked” before I logged in. (Otherwise, I would not have been able to log-in.)

Unlike director’s chairs, library seats do not have customer names written on their backs and PCs are numbered rather than named. (Perhaps he meant I booked/logged-in over him while sitting on his lap - but I cannot remember doing so!)

He then asked when I had booked it; an irrelevant question implying I was lying about my pre-booking, but without the slightest evidence; automatically assuming a Black man in the wrong. Yet, he was lying when claiming he was ‘on’ PC19. And, since half the computers were available, I would not sit at an unavailable PC when so many were free.

He obviously believes on-screen messages (telling him of limited availability) do not apply to him. However, his English was fluent and, so, he cannot claim he did not understand them. His abusive response to my telling him this (in the absence of any other available face-saving gambit) proved his essentially-abusive nature and that he knew PC19:

  1. Had been booked; &,
  2. not by him.

He was subsequently booked on to PC4 by a member of staff at around the same time, so should be easy to trace. It would, after all, be very interesting to hear his explanation for his claim to special rights & privileges that have never existed - especially in light of his attempt to prevent a Black man from using a public computer - without lawful excuse or any kind of provocation.

With public services, it is Black customers’ experience that Caucasians believe they:

  1. Can condescend to others;
  2. need not advance-book;
  3. can interfere with Black people going about their lawful business (violating the Library Service’s AUP re; disrupting the work of others - as well as harassment law, possession being nine-tenths of the law, the principle of 1st-come-1st-served & common courtesy);
  4. can lie with impunity;
  5. have greater civil rights in public than non-Whites & Jews;
  6. are not bound by the rules others must follow;
  7. can pretend the world owes them a living;
  8. can act on what they want to be true rather than what is; &,
  9. can behave childishly when losing arguments to other ethnic groups.

Only in places like apartheid South Africa did Whites ever have the temerity to legalize such White supremacism. And I see nothing in the libraries Terms & Conditions of Use allowing it.



This e-mail & any attachments are confidential and intended only for the individual(s) addressed. If you are not an intended recipient, please delete it and accept my apologies for sending it you in error.

[Audio file - opens in New Tab/Window]
Speaker:Words spoken:Annotation:
WHITE MALE: (condescending) Hold on, mate. I’m on that one. Excuse me! Excuse me! [Claiming to be using available PC19]
D022317344: (confrontational) Yes, you’re excused!
WHITE MALE: (arrogant) I’m on that one! [No evidence presented to support this lie.]
D022317344: (confrontational) No, you’re not! [Fact I am logged-in to PC proves he was not booked-on to it]
WHITE MALE: (condescending) Why not? [Expects Black man to provide evidence when White male presents none.]
D022317344: (confrontational) ‘Cause I’ve booked it! [I would not sit at a PC showing less than 1 hour available.]
WHITE MALE: (arrogant) What time? [Implying Black man a liar with irrelevant question.]
D022317344: (confrontational) Just now! [Only the fact that a PC has been booked is relevant to anything - not when it is booked.]
WHITE MALE: (crestfallen) That’s perhaps why I can’t get on it. [Admitting he tried a few minutes earlier to use PC.]
D022317344: (condescending) That’s why you got a message telling you you only had a few minutes left. [Two on-screen messages revealing only a few minutes of PC use were available to him.]
WHITE MALE: (sotto voce) All right. Shut up! [Hates losing to Black man, publicly, so behaves childishly.]
D022317344: (confrontational) Yeah. And the same to you! [Proportionate response to provocative White male trying to prevent black man from using public computer.]

Copyright © 2015 Frank TALKER.
Permission granted to reproduce & distribute this posting in any way, shape or form; provided mention of this Blog is included: E-mail notification requested.
All other rights reserved.

Friday, 28 November 2014



Customer Service Excellence (CSE)?!

Since Wednesday, 12/11/2014, I have been unable to advance-book a library PC. Nor am I able to simply sit at a public computer and use one that has not been booked. (My access to the Web Catalogue, however, functions as normal.)

No staff member seems to know what is actually going on. I have been told - by Tunbridge Wells’ staff - to try logging-in more than once at any available PC. This ridiculous suggestion (given the inherent consistency of programs - compared to programmers) does not actually work - no-one is willing to state it in writing, in any case. And physically finding an available computer is problematic since it requires perambulating the library - switching-on unused monitors as one goes. An onerous task, at the best of times, which the booking computer previously did, but automatically.

This new library computer-system makes it impossible to book a library PC a) remotely; b) days ahead; or, c) when physically-present in the library; nullifying all the benefits of booking ahead - and of library membership, as such - particularly that of not waiting around for a computer to become free.

I must now obtain Guest Tickets from staff after signing for them - yet another onerous task - unexplained except in terms of revenue protection or some vague failing of Microsoft software.

What went wrong?

Clearly, this results from your new policy (as of 17/11/2014) of disabling customer access to the Web if individual Fines/Charges rise to GBP£10.00 or more. Along with the concomitant need to enforce this injunction through the library’s automated system rather than the uncertain and inconsistent manual enforcement of the past.

Making it harder for customers

But, if delinquent accounts really are a serious issue for the Library Service, it is strange that many of the library’s automated borrow/return machines do not accept payment (none at all accept credit/debit cards). This makes an overdrawn library account ever more likely since it is possible to borrow chargeable items, like DVDs, without paying for them. (It makes no sense for the Service to enjoin non-payers when the Service, itself, makes payment harder than necessary.)

If the thief doesn’t own up, you’ll all be in detention!

All library members are now blacklisted until their accounts are checked and, presumably, the non-delinquent then white-listed again. This gives library members and non-members exactly the same status despite the former being a subset of the latter - a distinction conferring more privileges on members through the very fact of membership. These privileges are now effectively abolished through the collective punishment of all members because of a minority of delinquent ones; making the library harder to use and, thus, less likely to be; as well as reducing the benefits - and the likely take-up - of said membership.

Dealing with financially-delinquent customers?

While recognising the Library Service is not yet computerised enough to do this, it is always better to punish people - directly & individually - in terms of what they do (or do not do) rather than in any other terms: The punishment then more closely fits the crime.

For example, customers who return non-chargeable items, like books, late (or never return them) should not be allowed to borrow more of the same until their “overdraft” is paid (&/or the item paid for). Similarly, customers who return chargeable items, like audio-visual material, late should be barred from borrowing more of the same until they are in the black. (This is, of course, especially important given that chargeable items are not generating further revenue while remaining on loan to delinquent library members.)

Time to Pay

It would be easier (since it is common business practice) to give customers time to pay rather than focus on the amount owing. The latter merely encourages library members to conclude Fines/Charges less than GBP£10.00 unimportant; increasing the likelihood of greater numbers of small accounts-outstanding. Staff costs are not significantly increased after computers have been programmed to deal with any outstanding amount, as they would increase if all delinquency were dealt with manually - so long as there is minimal human intervention. Under such an automated system, any Fines/Charges must be paid within, say, the loan period (eg, seven days for DVDs; 21 days for books, etc or when the item is returned - whichever is the lesser) otherwise library use is then automatically restricted or prohibited.

Logic & Rationality

Using the PCs does not require library membership and never results in fines/charges, so there is no logical connection between the two. Borrowing items, however, does require membership, so there is a logical connection between fines/charges and not allowing further loans should these fines/charges become excessive. This is clear, easy-to-understand and, therefore, easy to enforce.

By keeping library services that do and do not require library membership separate, you will have a much easier means of policing your system. Requiring library membership for all library services would, perhaps, be impractical.

Arbitrariness & Laziness

There seems no reason for an arbitrary limit of GBP£10.00 triggering punitive action from the Library Service, nor why Web-access prohibition should be the sole punishment - unless it was thought this would make re-programming the library software easier. If so, this has clearly not worked: Simplistic solutions to complex problems rarely do. Either way, delinquent customers never or rarely accessing the Web via the library, will remain largely unaffected by this injunction - even though they may incur further Fines/Charges from continuing to borrow unpaid-for chargeable items such as CDs.

There is also the possibility that a library member can walk into the Library and ask for a guest ticket even when banned - and get one if his account is not checked. He can simply say he is not a member and, if not recognised by staff, gain Web access despite owing more than GBP£10.00. Staff would then have no means of proving that such a person was not a library member since accounts do not contain photographic data.

Customer Solution

The only sure way to solve this revenue-protection problem is to delete ones account and start a new one; ensuring such things as loans & reservations are manually transferred. This ensures that there is little data to be checked for, say, national security purposes.

Who benefits from automation?

Ultimately, if you wish customers to ‘Make sure [they] can still get online’, you should not put unnecessary obstacles in their way: It is better to ensure any so-called library-software upgrades actually work on a test system before long-suffering customers’ experience them on the live one.

This e-mail & any attachments are confidential and intended only for the individual(s) addressed. If you are not an intended recipient, please delete this e-mail and accept our apologies for sending it you in error.

Copyright © 2014 Frank TALKER.
Permission granted to reproduce & distribute this posting in any way, shape or form; provided mention of this Blog is included: E-mail notification requested.
All other rights reserved.