August 2, 2010

The Public Library: Part II

Our head children's librarian's name is Gregor.

Gregor is estimated to be in his late forties/early fifties, demands that all children speak in an inaudible whisper, and scowls if you appear interested in checking out any of his books.

I also outweigh him by at least twenty pounds.

"I forgot my library card," whispered the mom in front of me at checkout. There was dread in her voice.

I winced as she received her verbal lashing.

Fortunately, everything went fine with my transaction. Gregor even managed to make eye contact with my kids. Once.

In the parking lot, I opened the lid of a Baby Einstein DVD that I had just borrowed and noticed that the disc was split neatly into two equal pieces. It was blazing hot and my kids were already strapped in the car so I decided that instead of telling Gregor the bad news in person, I would just call him from the car. Another librarian answered the phone. I explained the situation and she agreed to make a note on my account so I wouldn't be charged for the damage.

"Just bring the DVD back the next time you come in," she told me sweetly.

Gregor was policing his territory when I returned.

"I don't care what someone else told you," he told me flatly. "You're going to have to replace the DVD and pay a replacement processing fee."

"Nope," I replied.

"You are liable for whatever library materials you take out of the building," he continued.

"Nope," I said again.

"I personally check all DVDs that come in and I didn't notice that that disc was cracked in half."

"Nope."

After repeating myself a few more times, Gregor began to tire. Sensing that he wasn't going to get $50.00 out of me, he settled for a 5 minute lecture and a black mark on my library account.

"I'm writing a note on top of the note that the other librarian wrote," Gregor told me, typing furiously. "It says that if you break another DVD then I recommend that your library privileges be suspended indefinitely."

"Nope," I said one more time.

I've been to the library twice since this incident. Strangely, Gregor doesn't acknowledge my presence.

46 comments

Anna said...

Well, I certainly would be all too willing and happy to go to a library with Gregor-standard service! /sarcasm Good for you for not letting him push you around.

Gina said...

What a jerk.

Just so you know, Orange County Library will deliver stuff right to your door. They will deliver from ANY library branch, and then you can drop it off at ANY library branch. No more Gregor :)

Itchin' Stitchin' said...

He sounds like a bully! Glad there are other people out there who stand up to people like this - I would have done the same thing and watched his head explode.

Andie said...

Hmmm sounds to me like he would be better suited for the DMV.

The Empress said...

Wow. Gregor's sister, Helga, works at our library!

Seriously, she has made my kids scared of the library. I used to love the library when I was a kid...

excellent post! really could relate.

Dazee Dreamer said...

Gregor needs to have a little dose of reality beat into him. just sayin

The Mommy said...

Good for you! I always cave (I think I have a guilt complex)!

Susan said...

It sounds like all the training in saying "No" that your kids have given you is paying off!

Ber said...

I seriously LOVE that all you said was "Nope". That's so something i would have done in a situation like that too. Ol' Gregor musn't sp?)get away with his shenanigans that easily!! Kudos to you!

Dee said...

Maybe Gregor is a part time Cafeteria Lady as well.

Wendy said...

$50 for an Einstein DVD??? I think Gregor was trying to make a profit for his own pocket!! LOL!!

Sara said...

Gregor is a gay name. Janelle is the horrific library worker in our town. She's a mondo bitch.

Andrea said...

Greggor - he's more Greg than other Gregs. Luckily he's not the Greggest.

Catherine Dabels said...

I want to adopt Gregor. He seems so affable.........

Emily012473 said...

Gregor sounds like someone with a hunchback who drags his leg behind him when he walks...

Karen Mortensen said...

My goodness what is up with him? Sounds like somebody needs a nap.

Mal said...

Reminds me of one of the librarians here who insists she is not to be used as a babysitter but finds it necessary to tell me what I should or should not do with my child (even when it has nothing to do with library policy or noise level, etc.), while at the same time admitting that she doesn't my children.

After a couple of nasty looks from me (which I pride myself in) and a sharp response (also, a love of mine), she also never makes eye contact with me.

Carmen said...

Good job! I get a kick out of people with an over-inflated sense of authority. Not getting jacked up over it and just repeating 'No' over and over is exactly how to handle it. What is he going to do? Turn you in to collections over a library DVD?

We have a serious introvert in the children's section of our library. She never talks to the kids even when they're asking her name. Its annoying. I realize library people are probably shy by nature but they're kids. You're in the kids section. Have some joy damnit!

Maureen said...

Makes you want to go in just to annoy him..Im petty like that..;)

SS said...

Many public libraries across the country have experienced these kinds of problems, and they mostly relate to, guess what? MONEY. It is becoming unusual for trained, professional Librarians to work in libraries anymore. No. Instead, cheaper, clerical people who know how to work the software are hired. While these workers are important, it's like leaving the worker bees in charge with no Queen in the hive. They lose direction and concentrate on details. The Mission of any library should always be, as others have reminisced, things like helping patrons, encouraging library usage, and very importantly, making sure children love books and the library. They are not trained or qualified for these goals. They get called "Librarians" because they work in a library, but they are not professional, credentialed Librarians, and they too often become obsessed with (one small part of the running of a library) just preserving resources.

The Bus Driver said...

what a dipwad!

Megan said...

fantastic!!!!

Lisa said...

The children's librarian at our local branch once sighed loudly and said "this would be a great job if it weren't for the stinking KIDS!" Clearly a case of not reading the job description before applying for the position.

And, be aware that your library can and will turn you over to collections for unpaid fines. My mom had a client lose a mortgage over a $26 library fine. Surprise!

Vickie said...

The Librarian Nazi.

Jennifer said...

I'm studying to be a librarian....this guy needs a new career.

Hamlet's Mistress said...

You showed that librarian who was boss! You can take the girl out of Philly, but you can't take the Philly out of the girl Love it!

Vicky said...

Hmmm, have yet to have a run in with the Meanest Librarian but good for you for standing your ground! As a sidenote, Baby Einstein DVDS do NOT cost $50! Shame on him for trying to pocket excess!

Gianni said...

Gregor sounds like a peach. :)

Anonymous said...

Incredible. Can't wait for "The Public Library: Part III".

kim said...

totally true and totally been there. My dh calls them library nazis.
and yes, can you please tell me how one lost book that cost 5.99 equals to a 50 dollar replacement fee?

Kristen @ ladybug-blessings.com said...

So happy you stood your ground! I love how he actually had to write over a note. It is amazing how much power people working in public libraries (dmvs etc.) think they have!

Cathryn said...

I hope your kids weren't listening to this conversation--they just might follow your example and give you the same.

But if they give HIM the same treatment , then I say lesson well taught Jana!

Cathryn said...

I disagree with SS---
You can not train a Professional to be kind, caring and a good teacher. These qualities are inherent in a person and come out because of "who they are" not "how they were trained."

I would much rather train someone the dewey decimal system that to try to convince them to be nice to the children. No amount of money can make a mean person nice from 8-5, Monday - Friday.

Jennie @ ModernMamaz said...

Oh, Gregor. Apparently, someone has a bad case of "little man's complex." I'm proud of you, though. Gregor would have gotten a lot more out of me than "nope" so I applaud you!

june said...

Back in FL when my oldest was 3, we went to the library for story time. Well, there the parents didn't stay with the kids(?). They took them to a separate room, whereupon my 3 year started crying. He was brought out to me. After the story there is a craft, which I took Sean to. Where I was told by the NAZI librarian, he couldn't participate because he didn't stay for the story!
Ummm...that didn't fly with me. she proceeded to tell me how she had been doing for blah, blah years. And he expects to do the lamo craft, he needs to stay in story time time. Why do people like that work with children? A phone call to the head librarian and never went back. Still burns me after 15 years. NOPE! NOPE! NOPE!

Kristy E said...

Actually they can (and will) send you to collections. We borrowed some dvds and books for vacation - and once we got back I kept forgetting to bring them back. I returned them 2 weeks late. We have not been back to the library yet (it's been one month) and I got a collections notice from a company this week for $21. Geesh I would have paid it when we go back - now they've paid some other company to do the dirty work?

However, I will say the children's librarian at my library is fantastic. She's a little old grandma type lady (around 70?) who talks to all the kids and parents and helps find books they might like. My kids love her.

Anonymous said...

geek on a power trip!

Laurie said...

Been reading your blog for a long time now and I'm still never sure how much of what you say actually happened. But you know what? I'm starting to not care either way. It brings me laughter EVERY.SINGLE. TIME., so truth, stretch of the truth, or outright lie, keep blogging!!! :)

Anonymous said...

As a librarian myself, this makes me so sad! Please don't think most libraries and librarians are so terrible at customer service:) Obviously if you just checked out a broken DVD, it should not have been charged to you. And children's librarians should love working with children, and should NEVER express an opinion otherwise in the presence of library patrons!

Life As I Know It said...

Perhaps Gregor should consider another career? One that doesn't involve working with children. Or people.

Megan B ♥ said...

You are my hero and you have given me untold amounts of inspiration for my next run in. Stupid people, get out of my way.

Maria said...

Doesn't anyone interview these people before they get the job?

Seems like it's not too much to ask if they like working or have experience working with children.

Oh, how I miss not having a library close to home and why are they only open during office hours when I can't get there?

Tip: next time he charges you for anything like that, offer to go buy it yourself instead of paying the fine. Wonder how he'll go about pocketing the $50 when you're offering to get the item brand new for much less?

Love the blog! Keep at it.

barefootquilter said...

That's awful. Our children's librarian is a jewel. She talks very loudly and LOVES talking to the kids. There isn't much about being quiet in the kids section.

However, when my twins were toddlers, and I let them play on the computers - I checked 3 times and the sign said they couldn't be OLDER than 12 but said NOTHING about a minimum age - they ripped into me. And they were SO fussy about teeny rips in pages.

I didn't go back for 2 years. =( I went to the library in the poor city next to us where they didn't care if the books were ripped in half as long as you didn't leave packets of cocaine in them.

Anonymous said...

Have you heard of the book The Library Dragon? You should buy it, gift wrap it and hand it over to him. It's AWESOME!

Anonymous said...

I have to say something about the $50 because as much as I disapprove of Gregor's attitude, it's not an unreasonable cost. In fact, it's pretty cheap compared to what we charge. But it's an academic library, so it's reasonable to assume that most of the things we're replacing are more expensive.

The most expensive DVD I saw on the Baby Einstein site was $15.99. Standard shipping will cost another $4.95, so already you're at $20. But when that DVD arrives at the library, they're not just going to pull it out of the box and stick it on the shelf. First, they have to open it. Surely we've all felt the pain of trying to get those adhesive seals off DVDs? In all likelihood, that Baby Einstein DVD isn't the only one they're unpacking that day.

Second, it has to be cataloged. Depending on the library's local practice, this might be really easy, or it might be a pain in the you-know-what.

Then it has to be tagged for security and/or barcoded. There are numerous methods of doing this and some are easier than others. But the point is, there are people doing this processing and they don't work for free.

And while $30 for processing might seem excessive for a DVD that didn't even cost $20, consider that the library probably has a set cost for replacement and processing, which ultimately benefits the patron if they've lost a book valued at $75.

office said...

The Tax Return Crack-Up<4>
Realizing he might have dug himself in there,Microsoft Office 2010the general emphasized that Office 2010he had spent some time as a junior Office 2007officer working "very closely Microsoft Officewith the Israeli air force" and that heMicrosoft Office 2007had found that "more cosmopolitan,Office 2007 key liberal version of the Israeli population" Office 2007 downloadto be just chock full Office 2007 Professionalof that sort of "goodwill" necessary Windows 7to give a bunch of land back Microsoft outlook 2010to the Palestinians.