Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back to the Grind--and a Rant

Well, I didn't win the lottery--and I'm guessing you didn't either. So back to work we go. Did you know that Web searches on job search topics spike on Sunday nights and Monday mornings, when people start contemplating another week on a job that for one reason or another doesn't thrill them? It's true. But with the economy about to tank again, people will start thinking about battening down the hatches at their current jobs and riding it out.

Meanwhile, I had a bad library experience yesterday. For many years, I haven't spent much time in the library. As a book maker, I felt I was doing my civic duty just buying books instead of borrowing them. But now that I have a four-year-old, I want her to have the same fond memories of going to the library that I do. So we got a card a few weeks ago. She's picked out books that look interesting, and we've had fun reading them and then going back for more.

But yesterday I got an e-mail that I was about to have an overdue book. But it was one we returned last Saturday. So I called them. After enduring voice-mail jail, I finally was connected to a clerk. When I explained my situation (very nicely, I thought), he switched into bureaucrat mode: "Well, have you ever had a 'claims returned' before?" "Huh?" I asked. He repeated it. "What does that mean?" I asked. Finally he explained his library jargon--have I ever claimed to have returned a book that the library can't find. "Oh, no, I haven't," I said. I refrained from launching into the "I worked in libraries for years and never heard such a nonsense term" schpiel that I felt welling up in my throat.

So in a nasal and somewhat accusatory tone, he launched into what the process would entail: They would send a "page" to check the shelf (why not just say "someone"?). If it wasn't there, they'd put the book on a list and look for it once a week on Tuesdays for a month. Then they'd call me and ask me to pay for the book (which, by the way, was a stupid little picture book that neither of us enjoyed, anyway).

Meanwhile, I keep checking online (at a site that requires me to retype a 43-character nonsense URL and a 14-character user ID each time) and the fines are mounting up. Me! A straight-A, type-A, never-paid-a-late-fee-for-anything perfectionist who's been working with books for 20 years. I stand accused of mismanaging public property. When I know I put it in the drop box with several other books. Aaargh!

I worked the front desk at a big public library for nearly two years. Only once do I ever remember this happening to a patron. We had just started using a computerized system. And still, it worked better than this one, 20 years later.

OK, I feel better now that I got that off my chest. Anyone else ever have a problem like this with the Hamilton East Public Library (where, by the way, the resume and travel books are decades old)?


Stephen Tiano said...

So let us know when they find it. it sounds like you may have to keep after them to get them to admit it’s there, however.

Lori Cates Hand said...

Well so far, it hasn't turned up. And yesterday I got another e-mail saying it was overdue and that if I thought this was in error, to call them as soon as possible. I have a feeling that the bureaucrat never wrote down anything about our conversation. I think tomorrow I am going to go there, pick the book off the shelf, and hand it to them.

Lori Cates Hand said...

Well, sweet vindication is mine. The library must have found that dull little book because they took it off my card tonight. In the future, I will be bringing books inside rather than using the drop box.