Today I filed a complaint with TPL’s Advertising Review Working Group. The complaint is about advertisements on the back of due-date and hold slips.
Back dans la journée, my personal heroine Jan Wong wrote a column for the Globe (2001.11.21, A6) describing how Air Canada demanded she sign a letter promising never to bring sharp objects aboard a plane. (She indeed had done so, in the time-honoured tradition of sting operations that airport security always flunks.)
I have a note here from a few months ago reminding me of a dream I had (Martin Amis/Henry James: “Tell a dream, lose a reader”) in which a trim, officiously cheerful middle-aged British man met me in the classic featureless interrogation cell seen in TV cop shows. He spun around then slid over a sheet I was expected to sign admitting my transgressions against the Toronto Public Library and promising never to commit them again.
You and I both know what a “problem customer” is and that I ain’t one.
On your hold slips. (Unintended consequence, or were we intentionally not informed?)
If you’re blind or visually impaired, or if you’re just keen or these sorts of things, you can watch DVDs with audio description – additional narration that talks you through the movie, telling you whatever’s happening that you can’t figure out from the the main soundtrack.
I could go on a big diversion here about what a total nightmare it has been over the last decade just to make sure the description track from the first-run theatrical release actually makes it to home video. I could also describe how I actually maintained the master list of DVDs with audio description for years until I realized that threatened to become a lifelong unpaid (and unappreciated) task.
Anyway. TPL has a couple of hundred DVDs with audio description. The problem is they are really hard to look up in the catalogue. You have to use exactly this subject heading:
You must also know to search by subject. A seemingly simple step like that is actually way beyond the capacity of most users, nor should it be their problem, nor does the new catalogue make subject searches easy.
Yes, there’s a link to that search on an accessibility page. But had you ever heard of that page? Did you know TPL had DVDs with description? Did you know how to find them?
That’s a lot of problems. But one of them has been solved.
Easy ways to tell people how to find described DVDs
At my suggestion, the crack TPL Web team (that is not an ironic statement) added a bunch of shortcuts. They’ve been set up so you can tell people how to search for DVDs when you’re just talking to them, or are running a radio show, or are using something other than an online medium where somebody can click a link.
It’s real simple. Just tell your friends to go to any of these:
Nice easy-to-remember phrases. Tell all your friends.
(If you want to write out
TorontoPublicLibrary.CA instead, you can.)
A week later, TPL says the same thing
Philip Preville, a resident contrarian at Toronto Life despite not living a life in Toronto, took time out from his busy suburban lifestyle to damn Rob Ford with faint praise. One of the achievements Preville attributed to him? “At Fairview Library, an automated book sorter will save $160,000. It all adds up.”
The May issue publishes (i.e., rewrites) my response:
What I actually wrote:
Philip Preville – in the wrong more often than any Toronto Life columnist (and he doesn’t even live in Toronto) – blows it again in his half-assed panegyric to Rob Ford. “At Fairview Library, an automated sorter will save $160,000,” he writes, failing to mention that the equipment comes at the cost of 4.5 full-time-equivalent jobs. (That’s on top of the 107 positions by which the library is already short.)
But Preville doesn’t account for those details, or for the fact that the library budget was reduced this year under the current board, which actually managed to infuriate librarians enough for them to go on strike in 2012. So yes, “[i]t all adds up” – if what you’re adding up is really “all” of it.
Phil Preville, go fuck yourself.