Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Please forgive the intrusion

I know I’m treading in dangerous territory here – but I’m going to complain about the public library. I fully expect to garner a few rotten tomatoes, but I’m sorry, I have to speak up.

Yesterday I took my daughter to the public library to get her a book for a book report. She had a rather eclectic list to choose from which included both Madeleine L’Engle and Stephen King believe it or not, and there were exactly two entries from the list available. Not an impressive selection.

Now, I’m hoping this isn’t the case in most libraries, but I have to say the one in this town is staffed by the least helpful bunch of people on the planet. Not one person we spoke to made eye contact with us. A question about the computer system was met with a curt reply in between the stamping of book cards, and when we finally checked out, the person at the desk slapped the book on the counter and gave us a monotone, ‘Have a nice day’ without so much as cracking a smile.

I’m not asking for joviality, and I realize one has to be quiet [though there seemed to be tutoring lessons going on in the middle of the room, which I thought was rather rude.] There are smaller rooms around the perimeter of the main library that could be used for tutoring and there are also quiet little nooks on the second floor where the conjugation of verbs would not be heard by people doing research. No one seemed concerned by this. Nor by the woman having a conversation on her cell phone in the stacks.

Sigh. I realize a job is a job to some people, but I can’t fathom choosing a job in a library if you weren’t passionate about the work, about helping people, especially children to enjoy their library experience. In a world where people can download ebooks to their computers instantly or have Amazon deliver a shipment of books to their door by FedEx, wouldn’t you think library employees would be latching onto ‘customers’ like used car salesmen?

A friend of mine regularly borrows novels from the library, and she reports being browbeaten on several occasions when she’s returned books a day or two late. She says she’s been treated like felon while paying the 10 or 15-cent fine for an overdue book. Now I understand one must follow the rules, but again, you’d think the staff would be pleased someone is borrowing the books at all when many of them can be easily obtained elsewhere.

Maybe it’s me. Am I expecting too much? I used to love the library, but lately, I feel more like an intruder there. Whassup?

1 comment:

Jennifer McKenzie said...

Could be the pay. Often it comes down to cold hard cash or lack thereof.
Not to be all philosophical, but we do live in a world that equates "Worth" with "Money" (ebooks vs. big print anyone? *don't go there...don't go there*). In such a world, it's tough not to growl when you're the keeper of the literate history of mankind and no one appreciates you for it.
Having said that, I'd still complain. Usually, that kind of attitude starts from the top.