Librarians: A Breed of Their Own

I love libraries, but what the heck is it with librarians? I swear every single one that I have encountered is draconian about frivolous rules, to say the least. They are also typically socially awkward, but that is really just an extroverted person’s opinion, not a fact.

When I was teaching high school, I was always flabbergasted by them. For example, I had a high school friend suddenly pass away. It was quite tragic, and I wanted to be able to attend the services. My students were doing their research portion of the term, and it was going to be a tricky arrangement to get the sub to teach anything appropriate in order to allow us to not lose our scheduled library time (which consisted of me teaching everything but giving students access to books). When I discussed it with my principal for approval, it was suggested that the situation called for extenuating circumstances and the librarians (take note plural here) should be able to handle my two remaining  classes in the library and, therefore, I would not need to take official time off and get a sub in order to attend the funeral. When relayed to the librarians, they both looked at me puzzled, terrified. These college educated women that could both be my mother replied, “You want us to watch them by ourselves? I don’t think we can manage that.” Un-be-lievable. Yes, I am asking you to actually work with and teach students (gasp!). You have a full-time adult library aid and 2 teen library aids per period, so I believe you can manage 27 students for 2 hours while I attend a 23 year old’s funeral, thanks.

Before I had two kiddos and began teaching college on-line, the grounded classes I taught were required to do an intro to the library since the students were Freshmen needing acclamation. The sessions they gave were boooorriinng. Although all the librarians were pleasant, they were able to put more students to sleep than a hypnotist. My classes always came away complaining of wanting to gouge their own eyes out with their mechanical pencils.

One would think that perhaps the public librarians would be better.  They are, however, employees of the third reich when it comes to rules. One day I forgot my library card (the shame!), which was not noticed until Daniel had already selected his books and placed them on the counter to be checked out to take home. Apologetically, I confessed to my forgotten library card and asked if I could be looked up by my name. Using my name to check out books was acceptable but only when accompanied with my photo id/license, which seemed reasonable. As I hand over my license, I was quickly informed that I can not check out any books if I forget my library card again until a full calendar year after this preposterous event of forgetfulness. I think illegals have an easier time getting social security cards and gainful employment than library patrons have checking out books sans library card.

(Daniel loves the library so much, he creates Lego models of the library, complete with a little boy at the computer being read The Cat and the Hat, just like he would be….see pic for proof!)

There are other incidents, but let’s fast forward to yesterday, when I received an e-mail letting me know our library books were overdue. Ooops! We’re generally better than this, but we’ve been busy, so late they were. I picked up my phone, which was next to me, and decided to quickly call and renew. Full of enthusiasm, the librarian informs me that I can certainly renew my books on the phone. Our conversation continues like this:

“What is your library card number?”

“Ummm. I do not have that near me, sorry. Can you please just look it up by my name?” I kindly inquire. 

“No, I can not.” she coldly replies.

“Seriously?” I ask full of astonishment.

The librarian flatly responds,”Yes, we can not renew it by your name.”

“But why not? That just seems silly.”

She quickly pings back this rationale: “Well, we do not know that you are who you say you are. You could be anybody on the other line.”

I retort the following: “Oh, yes. I am a completely evil stranger that goes around calling libraries and—oh my!—renewing other people’s late library books! The horror.”

We will not even go into the fact the stupid library card is now on my car key chain (so we will not  forget it any more), which could easily be lost. If lost, the sacred library card number would then be in the hands of evil doers of the world, at which point my library books could receive an infinite amount of renewals by the mystery villain, since knowing my name would not be a prerequisite.

Now that I look back, it appears to be a good thing I did not give her my name. :O)

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7 thoughts on “Librarians: A Breed of Their Own

  1. That’s hilarious… you cannot renew books over the phone but a stranger can call the electric company and pay someone else’s bill. That’s the government for you!

  2. I’m TOTALLY cracking up at this, Summer! I’ll be sure to carefully keep track of my library card from now on!

  3. Summer, when I moved back to Clarksville, I had a similar problem! We were staying in a motel, but had signed for an apartment and were trying to be careful with money. We went to the library and I attempted to apply for a card. We had nothing with us to prove our new address. When the librarian found out we weren’t actually living in the apartment, we were told we could NOT have a card. I threw a hissy fit and said some very unkind and bad words quite loudly. Daniel would have sent me to the corner, I’m sure.
    Although I now have a card, I rarely go there. I’m still afraid that I’ll be told I can’t check out anything!

  4. I have had similar conversations with other employees at other jobs – and it makes you want to gauge your eyes out! There was one particular university librarian where we taught that I LOVED! She worked so hard to reach the students and worked with me to create a meaning orientation.

    I love child-friendly libraries – I’ve found they cannot be too rigid and narrow-minded in their approach!

    I am so glad that was you and not me:)

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