By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
"Wanding the book with a light pen is a necessity if you're working the desk; stamping a date-due stamp isn't."
Although the new system was an immediate hit with children (high breakage because of overenthusiastic young readers forced the purchase of a cheaper brand of stamper), Westberg initially fielded a number of irate phone calls from older patrons who believed that library employees were simply trying to shirk their duties.
"My response was that there was a problem, and I didn't intend to injure my staff," explains Westberg. "I told them that if workers' compensation is having to pay a claim on one of those injuries, that directly impacts the city's insurance policies, so that directly affects you taxpayers, as well. Overall, though, we didn't encounter nearly as much negativity as we'd anticipated."
Still, Meineke, the ergonomics expert, warns that a self-serve date-due stamper isn't necessarily a miracle cure for a librarian's medical woes.
"You've got to take a look at the whole picture," says Meineke. "Sometimes, what's happening at work is just part of the problem. What are these long-term librarians doing when they get home?"
Last year, Meineke received a surprising answer to that question, when his company conducted a study for the Scottsdale Public Library system. Puzzled that one employee was suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome in spite of a work station that evidently posed no physical challenge, someone asked the woman how she spent her off-duty hours.
"It turns out that she wired bird cages for a hobby," says Meineke. "She'd take wire and needle-nosed pliers and weave the wire through the bars and bend it. Every night when she got home, this is what she'd do for four hours."
Says Meineke, "This was the same motion we were trying to avoid in her work station.