July 26, 2010

The Public Library: Part I


One afternoon every week, our public library shows a different animated movie in their auditorium.

Coincidentally, I happened to be in the library with my kids just before one of the movies was scheduled to start. When my kids saw the faux movie theater (auditorium + folding chairs + pull down screen) they turned into hyenas.

"Can we go? Can we go? Please can we go?"

I asked the librarian who was checking people in at the door if they had space for five more. She scanned the near empty room and then studied her clipboard. There were 13 names on her print out.

"I might be able to squeeze you in," she told me with a straight face.

"Great!" I said and gestured for my kids to enter the room.

"Wait!" the woman said, holding up her hand to stop us. "I need you to officially sign up for the event."

"OK," I replied and pulled a pen out of my purse. "What and where do I sign?"

"You have to sign up online."

"Is that really necessary?" I asked.

The woman used the words "critical" and "essential" in her reply.

"Can't I just add our names to the list that's right in front of you?"

Evidently, no I could not. I had to log onto the Internet from my cell phone to add my family into an online shopping basket on the library's website. (Important side note: I did all of this while standing five feet away from the librarian)

"We just went live with our online registration system," the librarian told me when I was done.

"I never would have guessed that," I replied.

"We're very excited about it," she continued.

"Mmmm Hmmmm," I hummed.

If you can't say something nice, it's best not to say anything at all.

I tried again to get my kids through the door. By then, the movie had already started.

"Did you print out your confirmation number?" the librarian asked.

I tried to stay calm.

"I'll let you in this time," she lectured. "But next time, you really need to bring your confirmation slip with you."

I told her that I would try...but I didn't say how hard.

56 comments

Kara and Theo said...

Your stories are hilarious, but I have to say how does one person encounter so many idiots in their lifetime? You have a true gift.

happyfamily said...

What is it about libraries that is either so good or so bad? Librarians are either wonderful or completely non-commital. Technology either harms or hurts, and there's either a mean collection of Clifford books (my kids' current fave) or there isn't. We got kicked out of the 2 year old story time because my kids weren't two enough yet. They were one month from it. Thank goodness for public libraries!

Sara A Broers said...

I don't get this either~ When my boys were younger we always went to these types of things at the Public Library. Always a great time and an interesting experience! LOL

Rachel said...

How do you meet such ridiculous human beings?? Are you a magnet for strange people?

Emily Heizer Photography said...

So far, I'm really not a fan of Florida.

The Mama Monster said...

OMG this is hilarious!!!! Did you look around to see if you were being Punk'd by Ashton? So funny!!!

~The Mama Monster

Emily said...

I almost want to reread the story because it's so unbelievable. Seriously?!?! That is crazy!

Heatherlee Chan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TORI said...

I think I love you - PULLLEEAASEEE be my bff...

Renny said...

I, too, am astounded by the number of weirdies you meet. Are you sure they didn't just move to Florida with you?

Tarcoulis said...

So..... what was the movie?

Barb said...

Soooo . . . . I am assuming (you know what they say about assuming?) that you don't have a little printer in that purse of yours? Hmmmm. . . .

LOL LOL LOL! ! !

Lauren said...

it's true, you have a gift of strange, awkward encounters, but also a gift of storytelling. Neither of which I posess. Perhaps that's why my blog is never as interesting or hilarious as yours. Thank you for giving me a good laugh with each of your posts!

Anna said...

::head+desk:: Oi, what a winner you met!

Dazee Dreamer said...

oh good lord. you have got to be kidding me. You are a good woman. I would have been causing a scene.

Jennifer said...

Why didn't you just do the same as at the DMV and walk over to a corner, pull out a paper, HANDWRITE your confimation number, make weird printing noises with your mouth and pull the paper out of your purse and hand it to her?

cyn said...

We ALL have encounters like this with the clueless of the world, probably very regularly. The Meanest Mom has a gift for describing it in such a way that it's hard not to pee pee in our pants laughing! Just a couple of days ago I was at an outdoor concert in Utah where there was a list of items not allowed into the stadium, backpacks included. As I stood near the entrance waiting for my husband, I saw one official allow several women to enter who were carrying VERY large purses, but then turn away a man who was carrying a very small backpack. Then, a man approached with a shoulder bag. He was told he could not bring his "bag" inside the stadium. The man mentioned that he had seen several women carry large purses inside, whereupon he was told that a purse is different than a bag, which is too much like a backpack. He handed the bag to his wife and said, "okay, well this is her purse." The security person let him through. The end. I bet Meanest Mom could have told that much funnier.

AmandaStretch said...

As a librarian, and on behalf of librarians everywhere, thanks for doing the online registration thinger. We need our stats like that to prove how useful our services our being so we can show them to the people who give us our budgets but don't actually know anything about libraries (school district boards, local governments, etc.). However, also on behalf of librarians, I apologize that she was such a weirdo about it.

Ma Kettle said...

Oh my! A real enforcer of the rules that one.
giggle giggle

Vicky said...

WOW! I'm in for some revelations when I visit the Public Library again. Kudos to you for keeping the sarcasm low!!!

Teen Queen said...

wow. thats all i have to say, wow. somebody takes her job a little too seriously.

Heather B said...

Maybe the librarian was a DMV worker in another life... ;)

I just found your blog, and am totally loving it. As a mother of six, I really understand the realm of chaos that is motherhood. Keep the great stories coming!

Shanna said...

For a North easterner living in Sout Florida I have to say Florida is filled with weird people, most of whom don't care. I do have Floridian friends who are not weirdo's (at least not in that way)but it is remarkable how ridiculous people are down here. BTW you are soooo funny

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman said...

Florida treating you well, I see? Thanks for the laugh.

Jay said...

As a librarian, I have to say...I've heard worse. Glad to see you didn't explode from the red tape idiocy.

AlsoMean said...

In our county, if you forget your library card, you can still check out some books.
But they charge you $1 to have the librarian look up your account for you.
As in your family, Mom can withstand the wailing that ensues when the little person is pulled from the counter without her precious selections. Dad just pulls out his wallet.

paula/adhocmom said...

What is it with libraries? We have TO GET TICKETS for EVERYTHING at our library. Don't even get me started on what happened when Elmo paid a visit.

Amy said...

HA! That is a riot! I am a middle school librarian - I believe I am atypical.... one year I got to go to "Library Camp"... when I got home... my husband said, "Where you able to find any friends?" as I was the only one without a bun, rimmed glasses on my nose, a shawl with a cardigan sweater....
Amy
PS We are not all like your post...

Laurie said...

I think Jennifer's comment might have topped the actual post. I almost spit out my drink. I can totally see you, making printer sounds after you grabbed a pen off her desk (probably attached with a chain!) and scribbled a confirmation number.

Making It Work Mom said...

Oh my gosh! You have got to be kidding me. That is why we now avoid - libraries - too much work to rent a free book!

HD said...

OMG I agree. The post was supa-funny and Jennifer's comment was Grrrr-eat! I can so picture it happening too (in that weird I've-never-met-you-but-have-an-image-in-my-mind sort of way).

Tanya said...

Our library is a joke too. We have two good librarians, but the ones there during story time hate children. Go fig.

big mama said...

Can't wait for Part II! You definately have a talent for story telling!

Pastrami said...

I too work in a library and I just want to say that on my blog you can view the other side of this equation. Like those of you who come in to the library and ask for a book...by that one guy...who wrote the other book. I think it has a red cover, you know the one?

Check out capnkjv.blogspot.com

Also: Heatherlee Chan, you now have fines assessed on your library card account! Wah ha ha! Feel my power! :)

Julie said...

Another librarian here, though this is too funny. I can justify all the rules we have at the library where I work, but when I take my kids to our home library, I want to tear my hair out. I'm surprised she didn't tell you that you couldn't use your cell phone in the library. :) Almost afraid to read about The Public Library: Part II.

Kelley said...

Ok, I just found your blog and I have to say that I truly love it! Thanks for a guaranteed smile every time I check in!

Steff said...

I work at my public library and I am the person that puts on all the kid/teen events, like movies, and I would NEVER make anyone do that! That's so awful and rediculous!

miss a said...

holy cow. as a librarian by trade (and former children's public librarian), it's these types that make me nuts. there is no rule that is too small to be enforced. for the love of it, it's about connecting with children and families. let the registration go, or offer to register them yourself...

and i was exceptionanally young as a public librarian...in my mid 20's...

miss a said...

And - just read over the other comments, and I'm astounded at how many other librarians are out there reading your blog.

And Orlando - oh, I wish you all the best. I lasted 6 months before I begged my Techie Rocker to transfer away. May your humor serve you well!

Moxie-Dude said...

Some people just take their jobs too seriously ;-)

Aunt Crazy said...

Ooooohhh eeeemmmm geeeeee NO, just NO she didn't...what was the point??? See, this is why I don't do so well with people, cuz I would not have been able to keep my mouth from pointing out to her just how silly everything she said was! SIGH

Pastrami said...

The reason there are so many librarians reading this blog is most certainly NOT because we're sitting around doing nothing all day! :P

Hold on, I have to go kick an 11 year old out of the teen center...

Average Girl said...

I am a librarian wannabe, and I can totally understand where she's coming from. It's a position of power, right? Am I right? So funny -- thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute, are you sure you don't live in Indiana? Because I'm sure that SAME librarian works for my library system. Actually, she was so grumpy I actually quit going to the library for a couple of years. Its simple, if you don't like kids, DON'T BE A CHILDREN's LIBRARIAN!!!!

a few pounds over the years said...

Your adventures are always great. I just found your blog and love it. Thanks for making my day!

Sheryl said...

This is what the Gov't run programs like health care will look like. I love little officious people that inhabit such places as the DMV. Drives me...CCRRAAZZZY!

The Empress said...

love your blog!!!! Mothering Mayhem recommended you... you are perfect.

yup. we have the librarian's sister over here..what the heck is that all about???

Jen said...

Wait - I just noticed that this posting is called Part 1. Is there a part 2 or do you just "know" there will be more?

vanilla said...

If that's not a perfect example of technology (or rather its users) gone nuts, I don't know what is.

NewsPhotoGirl said...

Librarians are WEIRD. My one twin made a break for the door as I was checking to my books. I managed to grab her just as she got to the parking lot. The librarian RAN after me. Not to help. Oh no. She was upset that I ran out with the unchecked out books. Did she hold the door open for me as I walked back in dragging two out of control toddlers to finish checking out. No. Did she hold the door open as I left. That would be another no.

Pastrami said...

Librarians are weird because they don't help you enough with your out-of-control kids? Please consider instilling a little more discipline in your children before taking them out in public again.

Sarah said...

Pastrami, Seriously. NewsPhotoGirl's talking about her TODDLER running for the door. Yes, a TODDLER. She has TWIN TODDLERS! Hello! A twin toddler making the break for the front door of a library isn't the same as an eleven year old using books as a frisbee in the teen section of the library.

Kinyama said...

I love this story... I have run into the librarian here in NY! She used to work at the Burger King I go to! Seriously!

http://kinyama.blogspot.com/2009_04_01_archive.html#5052137353394643177

This is my post about here back in 2009 when she MUST have worked at the BK.

Hannah said...

As a public librarian, I apologize. Sometimes we have to follow "the rules" even if they sound totally ridiculous. I do at least try to look sympathetic while saying things about "essential steps in the process" (while internally rolling my eyes right along with you). Hope that you and Gregor work things out, too.

Anonymous said...

If we let too many people in the room the fire marshall is mad. Children's librarian's know that some kids won't show up. Gram comes and the park is more exciting, a swim day since it's not raining, and ear ache.

People were mad we let someone in at the door when they were told 2 days before the program was full. So some were coming thinking they could in, but then we ended up having to see your child cry and just encouraged the situation. So we sign up a percent extra so the "right" person in line who inquired 2 days before gets in. We were getting it at all ends. The room has a limit. Or maybe the puppet person was contracted to do a program for 50 people even though the room fits 75 because that is how many can see the stage properly. If it's a drop in and there are too many who come people are ticked we didn't have a sign up. No one wants to get tickets anymore with online programming but then you don't have that piece of paper claiming your place in line. I would love to approach like a movie. You show up if there is a ticket fine if the tickets run out, bye.

The person at the desk for the DVD likely wasn't a librarian. A librarian orders books and provides help with reader's advisory. A support staff person deals with DVD's and fines. Bless them. The amount of people who complain about ten cents! Seriously not judging you. Library staff had fines too time to time and they are there 5 days a week.

The library should be loud, that means it's being used. Who said seniors, who are loud or need you to be loud since they can't hear well get to decide whispers are the appropriate volume? Architects are getting better but why a vaulted ceiling above the check out desk? People have to talk there?

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