Data is great. Our ability to collect metrics on human activity gives us insight into patterns of behavior and that allows us to adjust our strategies accordingly. But our dependence on analytics can be misplaced. Or at least that’s what a Florida librarian says.George Dore, a librarian in Orlando, Florida was suspended from his position as branch manager after an investigation revealed that he had created a fake identity to borrow library books that were falling out of fashion. His creation, the fictional Charles Finley, was given a career (ballplayer), a drivers license number, an address and a voracious appetite for reading. He was also endowed with a wide-ranging taste in literature.
Basically, Dore was gaming the system. Finley’s reading marathon was engineered to inflate the library’s data, tricking its algorithm by creating the appearance of popularity for books that were not being borrowed much. (Culling books that have not been read for a long time is a common practice at libraries.)Finley borrowed more than 2,300 books over the course of 2015, increasing circulation at East Lake County branch by 3.9%. He was also a super-fast reader, checking books in and out within an hour. Nine months into Finley’s reading marathon, his speed-reading led to suspicion and an investigation, which began in November 2015.
The notion of rebel bibliophiles breaking the law to save books is undeniably charming to book lovers. But actually, the librarian is alleged to have committed fraud and authorities in Florida are not impressed. The inspector general’s report on Dore states that creation of a fake library card “amounts to the creation of a false public record….”