This post has received several visits, questions, and a bit of a stir in the old golf-pencil stash…I’ve reposted it here as the link for comments on the earlier post couldn’t be retrieved…feel free to comment away now…
Where’s The Point?
I’m inclined to say there is no point…at least when it comes to these familiar little things–yes, the golf pencil, the mini-pencil, or the nubby pencil as Helene, a PLCMC collegue, told me she calls them today. Whatever you call them, I think they are a perfect little example of old ideas or practices that aren’t really serving us any more in libraries–at least not effectively. My point in their pointlessness is this: We pay money for these tiny little things that last perhaps for 2 or 3 usages and then wind up in the garbage can. You can’t sharpen them as they get lost or stuck in the pencil sharpener…they have no eraser and wind up being more of an annoyance than anything. As I was thinking about this, I looked at the pen in my own hand. It was a nice padded grip pen that I received free from a promotional products rep…I then I looked at the pencil cup on my desk and it is filled with dozens of unused pens and pencils… I look around the workroom in my department–dozens, perhaps hundreds of unused pencils and pens! And still we are paying for these tiny little bothersome yellow pencils! My curiosity deepened on this small topic, so I made a few calls and found out how much these items cost–for a box of them (114) retail = $14! Wholesale= $8! (a real steal? No.) I can confidently say that the library where I work each day could easily go through a box or more of these a day! I’ll let you do the math. We’re talking thousands of dollars here folks. But how could anything replace our familiar golf pencils? They’re as Library as, say bookends? For starters, how about just bringing out some of those hundreds of pens and pencils floating around in all the drawers and cups and bins in our offices…or, hmmm, remember that pen I mentioned earlier that had the name of a product rep on it? Don’t you just know that they (or another local agency) would likely jump head over heals to have their pens with their logo and info used in a building that serves thousands of people daily. Even better, what if the Library took the thousands of dollars it’s spending on these short-lived items and had inexpensive pens or pencils printed. “Then people would take them…they’d walk out the door!”you say? My response:” Oh, no! That means we’d have pens with our logo and message floating all over the Charlotte region!” Not such a bad thing to happen, I say. This alternative has much more of a point than a $14 box of golf pencils. Get my point?
What? Get rid of the mini pencils? Blasphemy! What if I want to play a round of mini golf in the stacks? Actually, I have never really given much thought to those little yellow pencils. After all, they’re there, so why not use them? So use them I do, once, and then throw them away. Much like a kleenex. Now I wonder can the library really afford to buy these little pencils? Apparently so. I just know that there is a better use for the thousands of dollars spent on them. It’s interesteing what we hold on to. We have gotten rid of card catalouges and stamping dates on the backs of books, yet we hand our patrons slips of paper and little pencils in this digital age. Now, I’m not suggesting we pass out Think Pads to our patrons. However it sometimes feels like we make two steps of progress and them take three steps back. I know that we will not change overnight and we have made great progress. To be fair, I don’t think my library has the mini pencils. I love the idea of having give away pens with our logo on it, or a good quote from a book. Or use the extra cash to buy more computers/ printers. I do get your point, and I applaud it.