Monday, July 11, 2011

Library Bureaucrap

Forgive me this post. I'm just looking for a place to share my frustrations, and I might even delete it eventually. We'll see.

Today, I'm at the local library, taking the kids for story time. Wouldn't you know that O stayed put and listened to the story while E ran around like a crazy child? Not really surprised, are you? Two weeks ago (they were closed July 4) I inquired as to what it takes to apply for a library card, and the woman told me I needed picture ID and a utility bill or something that proved I live in the county. Oh, well, maybe next time. She mentioned I could bring my car registration, and I considered going to get it, but on this day I didn't park anywhere near the library, so I decided for sure to wait until next time.

Yesterday, I had a copy of my mortgage statement, but threw it away when I was cleaning up because all that stuff is online anyway. Today, I kicked myself for doing that because all the utility bills are in Eli's name. Boo. So I went to the library and fished through the glove compartment for the registration, and at a glance, my signature was on the bottom, so I grabbed it and went in.

After story time, I got Elsie busy coloring at a table while I made my way to the circulation desk to apply for a card, Oscar on my hip. The woman behind the desk asked if I needed help so I told her what I wanted and she said, okay, come on down here.

I thought I asked politely enough if I could just stay where I was, at the bottom of the U-shaped desk, and do the sign-up from 10 feet away so that I could keep an eye on my toddler (since this position was the only place at the circulation desk I could see her and they are very strict about supervising children--as well they should be). The woman, who is older than my mother, looked at me with a look of annoyance, took my license and registration and then rolled her eyes as she moved down the desk toward the computer. Yes. She did.

I decided to just grin and bear it, because what could I do? There are very few opportunities for me to go to the library (or anywhere) without children these days, so if they couldn't accommodate me in this way then I would probably not ever be a patron of this library. Besides, I didn't think it was an unreasonable request, was it?

After a minute, she comes back down the desk and looks at me. "It doesn't have your name on it." What? I was confused. I looked down in her hand and saw my name on it, so I pointed it out to her. Yes, she said, this is proof that you were the person to register the car because your signature is on it [believe me, she did a Sherlock Holmes-style comparison between my driver license and the signature on the car registration] but it doesn't have your name on it. It has his name. But not yours.

Please note that her delivery of this news was in no way friendly or helpful, not even very customer service-y. More, it was suspicious and accusatory, as if I was trying to pull one over on her, and it got my blood boiling. I just gave her a big fake smile and a used a high-pitched I'm-not-going-to-scream voice, and said, "Okay. Thanks." And walked away, grabbed my purse and diaper bag, and my toddler who was not very happy about leaving and we left, thanking the children's librarian for story time on our way out.

Two things that frustrate me about this situation.

1. The librarian at the desk was not very nice or helpful. I was pretty sure that librarianship (ism?) is a part of the service industry in the same way that teachers are, but maybe I'm wrong.
2. Bureaucracy sucks. I had car tags with Eli's name, our address, and my signature, and then I had a driver license with my name, our address, and my signature. Sherlock Holmes would have figured that out. Or at least suggested another piece of documentation that could be helpful. She didn't. (In my mind, I was asking flustered-like, "What do you need? A marriage certificate??, And you know, that would have been a reasonable request.)

Alas, next time I go, if I ever go again (because honestly it's a lot of work to get out of the house with two kids and then be treated like I'm somehow inconveniencing the librarian) I'll bring better paperwork. Unfortunately, my mortgage statements are quarterly, so it will be another three months, if then.

Yes, the not being able to get a card is my fault. But not being treated kindly by this woman was pretty low.

I went to Sonic to calm my nerves and E and I shared a Wacky Pack. All better, particularly now that I've blogged this. Okay, okay. I got a milkshake, too.



stephanie said...

that's crap.
were you at opelika or auburn? (if auburn, i know one of the children's librarians who would definitely help you out.)

Beaver said...

I was hoping you would comment--I needed a librarian's perspective.

Opelika (Lee County), unfortunately. Auburn actually has a system in place where you apply for a card and they mail it to the address you give them and that's proof enough that you live there. I'm okay with that.

Thanks for the solidarity, sista.