Monday, January 26, 2009

It's "Library" not "Liberry"

One of my best friends works with a girl who pronounces "frustrated" as "fustrated" and "library" as "liberry." We've decided the poor girl was never taught how to use R's.

This seemingly unrelated introduction brings me to my topic: The public library.

Many folks in Milwaukee are talking about how usage of public libraries is increasing due to the hard economic times as stated by this article in the Journal-Sentinel.

This is great news to bookworms like myself because it means that I am no longer alone in my need-to-read-everything-I-get-my-hands-on nerdiness. There is, however, one beef I have with the public library that I must get off my chest.

Two weeks ago I needed to get my hands on a copy of Shirin Ebadi's "Iran Awakening." She is coming to campus and I am attending a book discussion with her, thus I must read the tome. I went to the library's website to search the catalog and found a couple of copies available at Central, which were both on hold, and one available at Cudahy. Not wanting to drive myself down to Cudahy, I requested it to be sent to Wauwatosa for maximum pick-up ease.

Slick, no?

During the next 12 days I incessantly checked the online records which stubbornly reported the book to be "in transit."

Now, I'm no mathematician, but even I know that it does not take more than twelve days to move a book from Cudahy to Wauwatosa. In fact, had I known it would take so long I would've driven myself down to Cudahy.


Once I saw the book was in Tosa, I checked online to see if my card was still valid. I hadn't used my library card in awhile and wanted to make sure I wouldn't have to renew it. The renewal process requires you to bring a photo ID and a piece of mail with your current, in-county address visible. My card was indeed still valid, and does not expire until June as the library operates on a 2-year renewal cycle. Huzzah.

I arrive at Wauwatosa ready to run in and check out the book, when the librarian asks me if I have any documents on my person that will verify my address. As I haven't used my card in 12 months they want to make sure my address is still valid for Milwaukee County library usage.

I explain that, because I checked online to ensure library card validity, I do not, in fact, have any such documents. And why, I questioned the lady, does the library require affirmation of my address on a yearly basis if my card does not expire for two years? Remember, dear reader, the card renewal process only requires you to, drum roll, verify your address.

CAUTION: Mind-bending logic approaching.

Why does the library not, I asked the lady, just enact an annual card renewal process if, when you do not use your card within 12 months, you must still go through the same process?

She turned to the other librarian and asked if she could forgo the process this one time and let me take the book.

This is really the end of my beef, which isn't really a beef so much as a question of why the public library, holder of knowledge, does not utilize logic in their own operation.

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