Page 102 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 40

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JEW ISH BOOK ANNUAL
do with these once he receives them. Wherever feasible, the
forms, or an accompanying brochure, should also list the range of
fees normally charged for the various services offered by the
participating institutions. Libraries whose fees or materials-usage
policies differ markedly in certain particulars from those posted
by other institutions may have their special requirements indi­
cated by a notation forewarning the prospective patron that it
would be advisable to write for further clarification.
A second recommendation: Delays entailed by the under­
standable insistence of many institutions for prepayment can be
reduced substantially by the introduction into the library world of
a widespread use of that common medium of exchange, the credit
card. The researcher who holds in his hands a standard requisi­
tion form of the kind described above should ordinarily be able to
determine approximately how much he is going to have to pay for
the services he is asking for. His calculations completed, he can
then enter his authorization on the form for the payment of the
total amount by credit card to the library he is dealing with.
A credit card system is obviously easily established. Libraries
cooperating in the venture I am proposing may choose, also, to
allow patrons to maintain prepaid balances in a central office
account against which the debits reported by the individual lib­
raries would be entered as they occur. I should think, however,
that this might impose more of an administrative burden than
most libraries would care to assume.
I suppose, when all is said and done, that for the foreseeable
future Judaic research by people in my position will probably be
carried out in much the same fashion as I have had to do it in the
past — principally, that is, by working through the impersonal
channels set up by the various institutions as long as one must, and
bypassing these the moment a friendly contact is established with
a fellow human within a particular institution. For the researcher,
whether he is working within the library itself or far from it, the
latter modus operandi can work wonders; once attained, it is
astonishing how smoothly and rapidly the work then goes. But
because that happy state is unlikely to be attained when the
researcher and the librarian are not afforded the opportunity of
meeting face to face, the adoption of the relatively simple pro­
cedural changes I have suggested here should serve to some
degree as a means of keeping the work from faltering, or even
from being brought to a total halt.