At my suggestion, we patronize the MLK Jr. library in San Jose, which is both the central library for the San Jose city system and the college library for San Jose State University. It was apparently the first dual academic / non-academic library in the state, has an award-winning atrium building on a busy corner on the edge of the campus with stunning views from the upper floors down to the quad and pretty old buildings, including the polychrome Old Main that looks toy-like from above, has fun commissioned artworks all through including in the bathrooms, and houses a Beethoven collection as well as an MLK exhibit. A large number of homeless people hang out there all day but I've never seen any trouble arising. The kids' room has lots of Astérix and Tintin books in the original, and other foreign languages too, there's a good collection of international newspapers, and while the university itself isn't known for academics (more for experimental music and the Bulwer Lytton Contest), I have always had the impression we are among a large group of non-San Jose State people who read widely and eclectically. After all, while San Jose is laughably wrong to claim to be the capital of Silicon Valley, it is in the valley, and the Stanford University library charges an arm and a leg and an invasive identity check on local guest memberships and imposes a tight borrowing limit. In the past I've had my full allowance of 100 books out from the MLK Library, all from the research floors; in recent years I've been doing less on Wikipedia and of a less serious kind and my reading needs have shifted to stuff I can read between customers on slow nights at work as well as on the bus, so I have taken to borrowing a relatively large amount from the ground-floor browsing library (found while the housemate browses the new SF) and we've been going there only once every three weeks or less rather than the majority of weekends.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a link while renewing books online, and we both got e-mail notification, that San Jose State was to be merged into the unified catalog for the rest of the California State University system, OneSearch, and that would mean the university section of the library would require a separate catalog search and would be loaned out through that separate section. Eventually HTML e-mails started arriving—the housemate ignored them because she has to switch OSs to read those—about the due dates being changed on books we had out, from Saturday July 1 to Sunday July 2. Meanwhile the house internet has continued to be ... random. On Saturday I had to trundle on foot to the local library to renew my books, and while I was there used one of their free terminals to renew my San Jose books. The San Jose State ones were no longer listed, so I tried to create an account on OneSearch, but was told I already had one; it had slipped my mind that the explanatory link had said that those city system patrons who had books checked out from the university would have accounts created automatically.

On Sunday the internet was out until the housemate had left to play some perverted card game all day. I then set about trying to log into OneSearch to renew the books due that day, having belatedly noted a log-in button at the bottom of the e-mails and having received another stating that my books due that day were already overdue. I was particularly concerned because the small print on the OneSearch explanation page says that fines can only be paid online, and ... continuing flaky internet.My library log-in didn't work. In between internet outages, I searched for a way to contact someone about this and found the library blog post about the change filling up with panicky comments to the same effect; apparently no-one had received the promised e-mail with log-in info. I left another one, and also attempted to leave a message via the "ask a librarian" link. I also called the only library information number listed, but since it was Sunday they didn't open until 1:00. With the internet hassles, I'd been ready for bed by 10:30, but I waited up. (1:00 is supposed to be my bedtime on work days.)

Shortly after 1:00 I called the library and navigated through the phone tree. I reached a very nice San Jose librarian with an Indian (?) accent. With much repetition because of my deafness, she told me she would have to forward my call to the university side. It rang and then I got a message that all the librarians were busy and I should call back later, then hung up. Not having a number for the university side, I of course couldn't. So I called the same number and this time selected "your San Jose State University account" from the phone tree. It rang once and disconnected. I called the same number again and again tried to reach the San Jose side. This time I was placed interminably on hold. Eventually a very frazzled-sounding person picked up, who turned out to be the same lady. She forwarded my call again and this time, amazingly, a San Jose State librarian picked up. She told me that OneSearch uses different passwords and the formula for deriving my temporary password. She also very kindly renewed my books.

It took two tries between further internet outages and that fashionable modern programming where nothing clicks, but instead pretty patterns dance on the screen and if you are successful, something gauzily fades into view with no evident links but it's all very arty. But I managed to log into OneSearch and verify that the books had been renewed. I noted a message at the bottom of the screen that my membership had an expiration date of July 31, 2017. Then I went to bed.

Yesterday, since the housemate has a 4-day weekend for the July 4th holiday, we drove in to the library. There are new electronic information screens on the first floor, as well as new checkout machines that will probably break down even faster than the old ones did. Instead of the promised separate San Jose State checkout area, there was a desk with a harried-looking guy sitting behind it. We were referred there with our questions. Apparently checkout for the university library books will now be manual, a wonderful step forward for efficiency, but returns will continue to go in the same slot. When we asked about the account expiry issue, another guy sprang from behind the counter and ushered us over to terminals; apparently my hunch was right and we had to change those temporary passwords. We did so and are no longer expiring imminently. I'm afraid I gently mentioned that this transition has been badly mismanaged, and that I am sure there are lots and lots of the library's most active patrons affected by it. (I did not say that this is a violation of the charter under which the MLK Library was set up with city and grant funds, but the blog commenter is right, it is. It also appreciably curtails what's available from the interlibrary loan consortium, LinkPlus, for those who are members of libraries other than San Jose's.)

The one good thing? I happened to ask ... I now have two separate 100-book maximum allowances, one for the public library and the other for the university collection.
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