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Entitled Mofo

Hi everyone,

Long time lurker, first time poster. I am breaking my silence because we had a terrible mofo last Thursday and it's now Saturday and I am STILL MAD about it.

I work at a public library in an affluent California community. It is our policy that to check out, you have to have either your library card or your Drivers Licence/Valid state ID. No exceptions. This patron was a middle aged dude who'd ridden to the library on his bicycle and forgotten his wallet. We happily returned his materials, but when he asked about checking out, our clerk explained our policy and apologized for the inconvenience. The man went "REALLY?!" and shook his head. He stormed out of the library, shaking his head and muttering in the way that meant he wanted people around him to know he was Very Upset, though most people probably just thought he was ridiculous. I know I did.

About 10 minutes later, he comes back in. He'd gotten his wife to text him a picture of his library card and drivers licence. He came up to me this time (I'm a woman in her late 20s who looks younger, so people always come up to me thinking they can pressure me into stuff.) He showed me the picture.

"I'm sorry," I said. "We can only accept the physical cards. Pictures won't work."

"ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" He bellowed. He continued to say that he'd lived in this area and used this library for 20 years and he'd never had such terrible service. You'd think in 20 years, he'd learn our policies, but no. My favorite thing he said was, "It doesn't have to be so difficult, like this is the government or something."

"This is the government," I said. Still, I went and double checked with our senior clerk who double checked with our manager, all who said no. Our senior clerk came out, reiterated the policy and apologized again.

"You could make an exception to the policy," he said. Of course, if we made one exception, we'd have to make an exception for everyone, we explained. "Do I look like I'm going to steal 2 books? No. You could make an exception for the right kind of person."

"Everyone is the right kind of person," our senior clerk said. "That's why we enforce the policy with everyone." Which, I think, was the exact right answer. I ended up giving him our administration number so he could complain and he finally left, but I'm still mad that he clearly believed he was the RIGHT kind of person and was better than everyone else. What a snob. I sincerely hopes he decides never to come back.

Anyway! Thanks for listening to my tale of woe...


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 19th, 2014 05:14 pm (UTC)
I'm so happy your senior management backed you up.
Apr. 19th, 2014 05:21 pm (UTC)
Me too. And when he calls administration, they'll just say the same thing BECAUSE IT'S POLICY. Even for special snowflakes.
Apr. 19th, 2014 05:25 pm (UTC)
Sounds exactly like the people at the California library where I used to work. Only OUR admin would have caved immediately.
Apr. 19th, 2014 05:39 pm (UTC)
I hear you. Most of our patron have been pretty good about our "Card Must Be Present" policy. But the couple of people who have a problem with it are always the loudest.

It's gotten a lot easier since our library system put out a smartphone app... that includes a scannable barcode screen. Our patrons (and staff!) love it. One less card to carry, and they always seem to have their phones with them.
Apr. 19th, 2014 05:40 pm (UTC)
oh man that would be amazing! but i won't hold my breath with this system. our self check machines won't even scan a picture of their barcode, which frustrates people.
Apr. 19th, 2014 05:43 pm (UTC)
That's the only problem we have with the App: our self check machines can't read the screen. But most of our patrons are just thrilled with having their account on their phone, and the barcode has made the circ desk a much happier place.
Apr. 19th, 2014 09:24 pm (UTC)
"Everyone is the right kind of person." YES! EXCELLENT RESPONSE!!
Apr. 22nd, 2014 05:25 pm (UTC)
Apr. 22nd, 2014 10:50 pm (UTC)
It's the flip side of (and so much more elegant and face-saving than) "Everyone is Schroedinger's Bookthief."
Apr. 20th, 2014 01:05 am (UTC)
Our policy is library card, period. Last time I had one of those 'entitled mofos,' she complained to every one at city hall and the city manager said he didn't care what it took, he just never wanted to hear someone complain about that again. So now my boss has said, well it's still the rule, but we have to use our own judgement on whether or not we should break the rules. *facepalm*

My feeling is to go by the rules because if they want to fire me for enforcing the rules, I will have a fine time in court with them.
Apr. 21st, 2014 06:48 pm (UTC)
ah, nothing like having one set of rules for asshats and one for reasonable people. and nothing like forcing your staff into uncomfortable, uncertain situations.
Apr. 20th, 2014 02:33 am (UTC)
I am not being a devil's advocate here, I swear: but if he had pictures of both his drivers' license (so you can then ID him from it) and his library card, then why isn't that sufficient other then "its policy the library card in hand?" I could walk in with randomfemalelibrarycard and check out items and unless you asked me for drivers license, what he was presenting you was more secure, so to speak.

(I am actually curious. I work in an academic library and the student ID IS library card, and we will take a valid drivers license if they forget their ID (and put a note in the record that it was done once) because it serves the purpose of an ID and we can then verify them as valid students.... And as a library board member at a public library, I am not sure if I would see the downside of what he did, providing the system allows people to look patrons up by name and verify by library card ID number, which was visible on the phone.)
Apr. 21st, 2014 04:53 pm (UTC)
No, I totally get his frustration. It's a really strict policy, set in place partly because of California's privacy laws and the way our system decided to interpret them. I handle people who are frustrated with the policy all the time and am sympathetic toward that, but he handled it in the worst way possible. Public libraries are still government entities and the government is all about policy and bureaucracy and protecting itself in any scenario. Strict policies are one way my system does that.
Apr. 20th, 2014 07:07 am (UTC)
Well-handled. There should be nothing to fault you for in this interaction.
Apr. 21st, 2014 06:59 pm (UTC)
I've been the guy on the bicycle. People take for granted that a ten mile (by freeway) trip is no big deal, but when you don't have a car that fifteen mile (by bicycle-accessible route) trip is a big deal. But then, when the situation comes, I have sense enough to know when to say "Dang it, I screwed up. Too bad I can't blame anyone but me."
Apr. 22nd, 2014 06:39 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Personal responsibility is in short supply with the WRONG kind of people, apparently.
Apr. 21st, 2014 08:33 pm (UTC)
Our system recently changed our policy regarding library card photos when it was discovered that a decent cell phone pic of a patron's library card barcode number will pick up on the self checkout machines. While we have privacy confidentiality policies regarding accounts, it is assumed that anyone in possession of a valid library card has permission from the cardholder to use it, and it's up to the cardholder to keep their card secure or report if it is missing or stolen. It's not optimal, but for parents who have multiple children with cards, or spouses who want to pick up each others requested items it's ended many a headache.
Apr. 22nd, 2014 06:11 pm (UTC)
In the system I used to work for, in a large county, the official policy was either card or ID. However, in the rural areas, they pretty much did whatever they wanted - just look up people by name with no ID or card. And some manager at our central HQ even approved that.

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

Authority Record

the fuck
The Society for Librarians* Who Say "Motherfucker"
For all of those times when the gatekeepers of the world's knowledge are called upon, in their professional capacity, to use the word "motherfucker." Or at least to seriously consider it.

*Open to librarians; library associates, specialists, technicians, and paraprofessionals of all kinds; library school students; library aides and volunteers; and all of those who love libraries, or even just love a particular librarian. Welcome.

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