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CODE4LIB  February 2023

CODE4LIB February 2023

Subject:

Re: A Modest Proposal

From:

"Lolis, John" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Thu, 9 Feb 2023 13:08:42 -0500

Content-Type:

multipart/related

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (143 lines) , Outlook-s51g3rin.png (143 lines)

Thank you so much to all for your thoughtful replies. It has certainly
prompted quite a discussion (sometimes philosophical) among my colleagues,
and we'll be keeping them in mind as we go on. It appears that, at the
very least, additional outreach in some way, shape or form is needed,
especially at the local shelter here in town.

Here the question has expanded beyond the issue of unreturned laptops
because we're also considering a library of things circulation program in
which there may be some high priced items included. One contentious issue
has to do with possibly requiring a credit card number on record in case of
loss, damage or theft. Of course, we don't require a credit card when
checking out a laptop, as we recognize that most who need a laptop are
unlikely to have a credit card. But what if we were to loan out a $500 360
degree camera? I may be pig-headed, but I see no reason why we couldn't
require a credit card for something like that; however, the question of
fairness was raised, that we shouldn't presume that an impoverished or
homeless person *wouldn't* need a 360 degree camera, and therefore we
shouldn't require a credit card for such things as well. In an ideal world
I'd agree, but I think that practicality here demands otherwise.

Getting back to the laptops, my solution would be to have them do a
non-stop Rick Roll <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ> after the
due date. Then again, the words, "Never gonna give you up..." are not what
we want the patron to think in this case. ;-}

Best wishes to all!

John Lolis
Coordinator of Computer Systems

100 Martine Avenue
White Plains, NY 10601

tel: 1.914.422.1497
fax: 1.914.422.1452

https://whiteplainslibrary.org/

*“I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that
can’t be questioned.”*
— Richard Feynman
<https://click.fourhourmail.com/5qure95xkf7hvvo93wh2/7qh7h8h05vr4zrtz/aHR0cHM6Ly9lbi53aWtpcGVkaWEub3JnL3dpa2kvUmljaGFyZF9GZXlubWFu>,
theoretical physicist and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965


On Mon, 6 Feb 2023 at 11:56, Lena G. Bohman <[log in to unmask]>
wrote:

> You aren't going to like this answer, because it's very boring, but I
> think you can't know if this would work without knowing *why* people
> aren't returning laptops. I'm not a public librarian, but my mom was an
> academic who spent her career working with a very poor population of
> domestic violence victims, and I was often pressed into service as an ad
> hoc research assistant. One of the things I learned from the experience was
> that people who are on the edge have very chaotic lives. Even if they
> intend to return the laptop, they may not.
>
> I think you need to learn more about the population you are trying to
> address. Alternate explanations:
>
> 1. People checking out the laptops tend to be transient and move out
> of the area with short notice. Possible intervention: include a return
> envelope with prepaid postage.
> 2. People are selling the laptops to make quick money. Possible
> intervention: talk to local pawn shop owners about returning the laptops
> when they come into circulation.
> 3. People in shelters struggle with transportation to return the
> laptops. Possible intervention: talk to shelter workers about having them
> help to hold laptops at end of circulation period until they can be picked
> up.
>
> I don't think any of these issues would be solved by a ransomware like you
> mention. But I think you need more data to decide what to do. Probably that
> means talking to people who already work with your local homeless community
> (if, indeed, homeless patrons are the source of most missing laptops -- you
> probably want to run some sort of analysis to figure this out), and, if you
> can find the time to do so, interviewing patrons.
> Lena
>
> Lena Bohman
> Data and Research Impact Librarian
> Long Island Jewish - Forest Hills Liaison
> Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell
>
> ------------------------------
> *From:* Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Lolis,
> John <[log in to unmask]>
> *Sent:* Monday, February 6, 2023 11:30 AM
> *To:* [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
> *Subject:* [CODE4LIB] A Modest Proposal
>
> EXTERNAL MESSAGE
>
> (apologies to Jonathan Swift)
>
> Please take this as only half-joking. While it is eminently do-able, the
> question is would it be ethical? Other than stirring things up on a Monday
> morning, I'd also love to hear alternative solutions others have brought to
> bear on this problem.
>
> We circulate laptops bundled with hotspots, and as expected we've seen too
> many of them fail to return. Of course, we disable the hotspot when it
> fails to return, but that doesn't always result in the return of the
> bundle. What makes matters worse is that in the spirit of combating
> digital inequity, we do our best to accommodate those who are homeless, who
> have no permanent address other than a shelter, who have no cellphone and
> have no credit card.
>
> Other than Scalefusion MDM software which we're evaluating, I had a
> wonderful, deliciously evil thought: suppose, upon checkout, we started a
> clock ticking on the laptop. Three days after the due date, our very own
> branded ransomware kicks in. The patron sees a message: to recover your
> files, return the laptop. It'd be like a prisoner exchange; they return
> the laptop and we return their files. Of course, this only works with
> those who actually create data files that they value.
>
> So who's in on this (he asks tongue in cheek)?
>
> John Lolis
> Coordinator of Computer Systems
>
> 100 Martine Avenue
> White Plains, NY 10601
>
> tel: 1.914.422.1497
> fax: 1.914.422.1452
>
>
> https://nam04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwhiteplainslibrary.org%2F&data=05%7C01%7Clena.g.bohman%40HOFSTRA.EDU%7C6379f8d786b74edd55cb08db085faf18%7Ce32fc43d7c6246d9b49fcd53ba8d9424%7C0%7C0%7C638112979293045201%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=FNwwBPXe7FU57ekUJU1VtCr076GjCPg0g9Jiykkiy7g%3D&reserved=0
>
> *“I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that
> can’t be questioned.”*
> — Richard Feynman
> <
> https://nam04.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fclick.fourhourmail.com%2F5qure95xkf7hvvo93wh2%2F7qh7h8h05vr4zrtz%2FaHR0cHM6Ly9lbi53aWtpcGVkaWEub3JnL3dpa2kvUmljaGFyZF9GZXlubWFu&data=05%7C01%7Clena.g.bohman%40HOFSTRA.EDU%7C6379f8d786b74edd55cb08db085faf18%7Ce32fc43d7c6246d9b49fcd53ba8d9424%7C0%7C0%7C638112979293045201%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=Z4acNV%2B9SuMOQxzLJkSc9YiI97EWOFRMruNHTumjkZ0%3D&reserved=0
> >,
> theoretical physicist and recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965
> **** CAUTION: This email originated from outside of Hofstra University. Do
> not click links or open attachments unless you recognize the sender and
> know the content is safe. ****
>

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