Thursday, July 27, 2006

Something for Nothing

I'm sure we've all noticed (how could you not) those particular individuals who EXPECT something for nothing. Don't we just adore these individuals?

So a mother calls up to renew her son's overdue material. He has previous fines. I tell her his new total of overdue fines: $16.50. I glance through his record. The "child" is high school age.

She is quiet for a moment and then says, "Is there anyway he can get that taken off?" I pause, waiting for her to enumerate the extenuating, life-or-death circumstance which has kept him from returning our property to us. But she says nothing.

No, shame at all. She thinks I should just remove her fines simply because she asked. I might have at least considered her request if she'd had the decency to fabricate a story. I might waive the fines based on creativity alone. (Which I have done before.) In my head I answer her: "Sure, I'll waive your son's fines, just because you asked, even though every other person has to pay them, and even though the library is LOSING money just to stay open. We don't need your $16, or anyone else's either."

Then, not 10 minutes later, I get a call from a man:

"Can you tell me if so-and-so with red hair is in the library?"

Let's stop here and consider this request for a moment. What this gentleman is asking me to do is to leave my post at the desk and venture into every corner of the library, asking every person with red hair if they are so-and-so, while patrons with ACTUAL reference questions wait at the desk and on the phone for my service.

"Is this an emergency?" Thank goodness for standard policy.

"No. I just wanted to know if he was there."

Yeah . . . NO.

No free handouts from the BITTERLIBRARIAN today.


At 2:05 PM, Blogger Angel, librarian and educator said...

What is it with bastards who borrow stuff, refuse to return it or do so late, and then don't want to face the consequences? What really irks me is the "hip" librarians wanting to eliminate fines because it is "more user friendly." Hey, get a clue. You borrowed the books. They are not yours; they belong to the community, so return them and be kind to the rest of the community, or pay accordingly. You think other places would put up with that? Best, and keep on blogging.

At 4:36 PM, Blogger davelibn said...

The state of WV has an open book exam for those wanting their contractors license. Patrons get a library card, check out a couple hundred dollars worth of books and disappear. We lost so many books that we simply put them at reference. I have been offered up to $100 dollars to let them go out for a couple of days. Still, the State Contractors Examination Board insists in send them here to check out titles and we have continually told them that they are only in reference. I am not sure if I want someone who takes an open book test fixing my porch,

At 2:40 PM, Blogger NonAnon said...

My favorite part of this post was your desire to hear, at the very least, a creative story in order to waive the fines. I always think that...c'mon, make something up, at least work for the waiving of your fines...although, the other day I had a gentleman explain that he was not responsible for his $2.75 fine because his wife and son went to Beijing without telling him the library book needed to be returned. Hmm. At least he had a story, but I had to deviate from the "just entertain me" rule and NOT waive it anyway, primarily because some other poor sad sack had been on hold for the book all along. Some days it's tough to be a librarian and keep a straight face.

At 11:47 AM, Blogger cristi said...

Good thing I wasn't on the phone. I'd have told mom there was a very simple thing they could do to make the fine on his record go away....hand over $16.50 and it will all go away!

At 2:52 PM, Blogger DirectorWho said...

we have the same problem with GED/GRE? name your test books here. WE get them in, brand spankin' new and one checkout and we never see them again.

When we are asked where are the books on ____ test, we just say, we stopped buying them because they disappear so quickly, and we can use the money for replacing them x number of times to buy the top bestsellers for a year.

This doesn't go over well, but then we say "You can always buy one and when you're finished, donate it to the library." that goes over even less well!

"The Director"

At 1:08 PM, Blogger DirectorWho said...

Let's for a moment take the second scenario in the posting -- giving out information about WHO is using the library over the phone.

Now, we have several situations:
1) legit - mom or dad wanting to talk to kid to say "Where have you been? Dinner was an hour ago and you are still not home! Get your butt back here RIGHT NOW!"

1) a) mom or dad having dropped junior or juniorette off at the library wants to make sure darling child STAYED at said library. Making the Library Staff substitute truant officers.

2)A nefarious person with a penchant for red-heads seeking a likely victim. In this case giving out information is akin to being an accessory.

3)A nosy classmate wanting to jump said kid when they leave the library (I know from experience! Ouch!). Again, not good.

My solution:
"I'm sorry, the Library's privacy policy prevents me from giving out information on library users over the phone. Plus we don't have a PA system to page them even if we could. Thank you for calling the Library."

Guaranteed to create a fire-storm of obsentities as well as numerous complaints to the County Commission.

But there you have it. In our case, it's STATE LAW not to give out information about Library users.

"The Director"


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