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Is This Poor Design, or Am I Just a Whiner?

That’s a picture of the front entrance to a local library. It’s a great library, perhaps the best in the area.

I don’t get there as often as I’d like, but it seems like every time I go to check out a book, there’s a fine on my account. Usually it’s a pretty small fine, less than $2.00, and I have no problem paying it, since I know it’s the result of having returned some books past the due date.

Well the last time we were there, I was checking out a couple of books, and I was thinking that maybe this time there would not be any fine, since I had not used the library for quite some time.

So imagine my surprise when the librarian said that I had a $29 fine.

I asked her how could I have incurred such a fine, and she said it was because the last set of books we had returned were destroyed as a result of having been put in a trash compactor. I must have looked confused, because as I was thinking, “we don’t even have a trash compactor, so how could the books have been destroyed”, so she continued by saying that there is a trash compactor right out in front of the library, and we must have put the books in the trash compactor.

If you look at the image at the top of this post, you will see the trash compactor in the bottom right of the photo.

Here is the trash compactor from another angle:

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I thought to myself that placing a trash compactor, which has the same design features as a book drop, right outside the entrance to a library doesn’t seem like a good idea.

Here’s what a book drop looks like at another library:

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They look pretty similar to me. Plus, the trash compactor in the picture at top is located right next to where cars can pull-up and ideally, drop off their books.

I asked her if other people have made the same mistake, and she said that a few people have done the same thing. I’m not sure if that made me feel better or worse, but it certainly reinforced my belief that the front of a library is a poor location for a trash compactor.

I know that it is obvious once you take a moment and read what is on the outside of the trash compactor. But who would think to stop and read the outside of a box that looks almost identical to a book drop, and is located right where you think a book drop should be?

Anyway, I paid my fine, and then couldn’t wait to get outside and see this trash compactor.

That’s when I decided to take a couple of pictures, as shown above.

And I thought, “well not all is lost, at least this should should be good for a blog post”.

So now I know, beware of trash compactors posing as book drops; it’s going to cost you.

But at least it’s better than the other possibility; dumping out your leftover food and drink into a book drop…

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Jim Borden

Accounting Prof. at Villanova; happily married for 30+ years; father of 3 outstanding young men; vegan; interests: fitness, creativity, education, blogging, social media.

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