A blank title-suggest form you can fill in on computer

Here’s the circuitous, Dickensian process TPL uses when customers wish to suggest an item to buy.

  • Blue form Customer has to know this is even possible in the first place (few do) and tells a librarian. Librarian gives customer blue form.

  • Customer handwrites complex bibliographic data onto form. (But for the love of God, if you work for TPL don’t try to fill out a form on behalf of a patron. Management will smack you down as if you were leading a peasant uprising.)

  • Librarian retypes some of that information into Amazon to ensure the item is available (yes, TPL really does rely on Amazon for that function) and is or is not in the system already. (We’ve gotten this wrong many times, but the point is unchanged.)

  • Form is submitted via internal snailmail.

  • Collections Development reads the handwriting on the form and enters and re-enters it into computers (Amazon yet again, internal ordering system, catalogue).

  • With nowhere on the form to write down a response, Collections scrawls a few words across a page in Sharpie and sends the paper form back via internal snailmail.

So: The same data is handwritten, perhaps from a source on a computer screen, then retyped at least twice (item not ordered) or many times more than that (item ordered).

While we’re waiting for this process to enter the 20th century, I banged out a title-suggest form in Acrobat that you can fill out and print onto an original blue form. Again: The whole thing is set up to print onto an original-stock blue TPL form, not to print a sea of blue onto a white sheet of paper. You can fill out the form in something like Preview on Macintosh, but really, you have to use Acrobat (any platform) to print it properly, because Acrobat can cleverly print only the items you typed in right there onto your blue form.

Instructions are given in a comment on the PDF, which, incidentally, is kind of tagged and kind of works in screen readers, not that that matters. This is Version 1.0 and may be improved over time. (Among other things, I’d use a nonprinting layer for the scan of the original form. But I’m not getting paid to do this, am I?)

Who should use this? Well, local branch staff, for a start. Life’s too short, is it not?

What else is wrong with the form?

It isn’t really a “form” and was never “designed” and doesn’t “work” and doesn’t need “huge black lines” and shouldn’t be “blue” and is “a total disaster,” but what do I know? Only half my friends are the best graphic designers in the world. And interloan forms are about as bad.