Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Library: Weirdness Abounds

Patronizing the library is one of those essential tools for those trying to glean knowledge and entertainment on a budget. It's right up there with stealing boardgames and iTunesU*. Our old library was amazing and tragic. It had about 6 shelves of large print Janet Evanovich novels abutting old issues of Good Housekeeping. That was about it.

But they knew us and loved us. We used inter-library loan a lot, and it became our most common way of getting books. They would applaud as we entered and weep as we left**.

Fast-forward to now: we own an e-reader. The Gutenberg Project has given us over 20000 books we can read whenever we want, and we don't really need the library all that much.

Only I love watching DVDs.

I'm a big fan of watching television series(es?) all the way through but we sold the majority of our DVDs before we moved. So we have 30Rock, Bones and The Office. I want The West Wing, Modern Family and Law and Order: Criminal Intent. I'm hurting here, people.

Though we are taking advantage of the Netflix free month trial we were offered (again), I've been trying to fill in the gaps by using our local library.

And it is working against me.

I'm not talking about the central branch with its Nicola Sacco death mask and perfect copy of the First Folio. No. I'm talking about our local branch.

A branch that shall remain nameless.

The first visit we made to this specific library was odd and uncomfortable because it was packed out with people trying to escape the heat. We decided to go because we didn't have internet yet and we needed to do some banking. I also had to print a shipping label for something that sold on while we were unpacking (accidentally, I guess).

I sat down to the computer and a rather brusque woman comes and tells me that I didn't sign up for a time to sit at the computer.

The computer was open, and there was no line. It turned out that if there was a line, I would have needed to sign up. Since I took the last available computer, a woman who apparently was in a hurry to check her Facebook went and signed up for the line a few seconds after I sat down. She then immediately proceeded to tell the librarian that I cut in said line.

This was explained to me in the most tedious, confusing way possible. Unfortunately, I understood what had happened immediately and had to wait through the 5 minute explanation. The accuser took the computer I vacated, though she eventually got kicked out because she refused to silence her cell phone. I know all this because I saw it all. Waiting in line.

It only got weirder from there. Once, the librarian put extra DVDs on Jord's account because she wanted to. Another time the librarian didn't scan our materials in and we were charged late fees. When I called to see what was up, I was told that at our branch, that's the norm.

And one of the librarians is straight up terrifying.

George worked a library for a while and he talked about people that poop in elevators and sleep behind the stacks. Weird people come to the library all the time. I mean, have you ever used a library bathroom? So I get it. It's just every time we go, they raise the bar a bit higher.

"Oh. You aren't sufficiently creeped out today? I'll go ahead and take this opportunity to flip out on a small child that is standing next to you. That didn't do it? Okay. Next time you're here I'll accuse you of breaking a DVD that you never checked out."

But alas, I had some DVDs due today and I'm trying not to use any extra transit fares. Also, I think I have SAD and I needed the walk. It's about 15 minutes away and the weather was pretty nice.

When I get in, I browse their selection. It's got like 6 copies of She's Gotta Have It and a copy of The History of Baseball. I walked up to the checkout and placed the DVDs I was returning along with a DVD I wanted to check out. I hand over my library card.

She lets out a deep sigh.

Immediately, without a word to me, she leaves and begins talking to the other employee working behind the desk. She brings her over and explains a computer problem she's having. I'm just standing there, looking like an idiot. They work on it for a second and then I guess it's fixed. I'm still just standing there. She looks at me and says "what do you want?"

"I'm returning these and I need to check this out."

"Gimme your card." It's been in her hand for like 10 minutes.

I walk out with my DVD and a guy steps up to the counter. As I walk out she says "All these people coming up here, taking things. They just keep coming."

And he says "If you're going to be rude, I'll just leave."

*Hungry Hungry Hippos, natch.
**That's not even wrong.

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