Tuesday, May 17, 2016
One of the advantages of my long tenure at my library, in addition to knowing where the bodies are buried, is that when some new management peccadillo comes down I can understand at a glance exactly how it will all go down. Many years ago a new policy was introduced wherein patrons needed to provide a library card for check out. If they did not have their card we could look them up with their license and issue them a new card for two dollars. Otherwise they could not check out at all. In other words, they had to have a library card to check anything out or they had to pay for it.
I still think of this as one of the most appallingly absurd policy decisions in my system's history. But when it came down as official policy I had already been here for so long that I barely even found it upsetting. I knew at an instant that
A. None of us would seriously enforce it, and
B. At the psychologically unstable branches, where some people did enforce it, they would finally alienate the wrong person, who would then set the whole house of cards falling down.
And so it was. The policy was dead in the water in less than half a year, except at one (now formerly) psychologically unstable branch who tenaciously carried on a version of the expired policy because they hate you.
Luckily they don't hate you anymore. For the most part you'll have to go to another library system to find people who hate you.
Though why anyone anywhere would hate you is beyond me. You're so nice!
A more recent "from on high" decision involved the introduction of small grocery store like shopping carts to my library. This one, on the face of it more sensible, I was actually more upset by. I could see at a glance that the main users of these would be the indigent men who are spending their declining years at our library (meaning their last four decades), avoiding showers, and who need a kind of portable in library home on wheels. And so these carts are, little mobile homes for people like the smelly man, who finds it a useful tool to hold snacks, greasy clothes, and also serves to assist him in his decrepit walking. While I have, on occasion, seen people use these carts to hold books, it is the exception, and often becomes a problem for them when they have to transition to leaving the library without the cart. The beauty of the non cart system is that what one can carry (and books are quite neat and transportable) is a good measure of how many books one can read, or how many movies one can watch in the course of a natural check out period. If you can watch more movies in a week than you can comfortably carry, then whatever extra effort it takes for you to carry those is probably sorely needed by you.
Of course, the main reason these carts were upsetting to me is that they aren't policy. They're well made objects that will be with us for years and years to come. I am right now sitting next to a spine stapler that has been in this library since the fifties! Does it work? Very well, except that it jams and has to be disassembled after every four uses.
So I guess I'm saying that having enough experience to make one able to see the future is a mixed bag. It can give one perspective and patience. It can be calming and give one a semblance of wisdom. But on the other hand it can just make one have to go through everything twice.