Friday, October 8, 2010

Library Angst

Why are all the good public lending libraries only to be found in Anne Arundel county, Maryland? Seriously - other libraries need to get their acts together. My AACo library card let me do all sorts of things I can't seem to do anywhere else:
  1. check out DVDs without a rental fee. And it's not as if this was a paltry collection of nothing but second-rate children's shows and cheap old BBC productions of Shakespeare from the '70s. Granted, those things were there, too, but there were good old movies, film noirs, Disney, recent action flicks, historical dramas, rom coms, and the invaluable British television section with series like Inspector Lynley Mysteries and Midsomer Murders. Those things provided hours of entertainment. (Particularly laughing at the omnipresent foresight of murder mystery killers to dress themselves in all black 'sneaky-suits' before committing their crimes. Seriously? How many people keep black trousers, gloves, tops, and ski caps in reserve for just such occasions? Do they go to Monsoon and River Island and the Gap thinking, 'I may lose my grip with reality or break into a homicidal rage at some point in the future...I ought to have an outfit for that!'??) If I wanted to pay to rent DVDs, I'd join Blockbuster or Netflix.
  2. Reserve books without a £0.50 reservation fee!!!! Yes, Lynn Truss, I'm baldly and unrepentantly abusing punctuation to properly over-emphasize my point. I've never seen this until just recently trying to reserve an otherwise unobtainable book from the Hampshire library system. Really? Really, Hampshire Libraries? You can't keep enough copies of the book in-stock or decently enforce your return policies and so you're making me pay for the privilege of getting the books I want from the library? I thought your whole raison d'etre was to keep popular books in stock so people could read them for free?
Yes, I'm harping about a paltry 50p - I do get that - but it's not the half a quid I'm lamenting, it's the principle of the library as a free public service. You pay when you abuse the system and lose stuff or forget to bring it back on time or put dirty additions on illustrations (or make vulgar illustrations all on your own), or deface the book in other ways. Yes, anonymous prude who likes Agatha Christie, that includes using White Out to remove swear words. (Unless you own the book, I suggest not censoring it. Other readers will pen the swears back in while muttering vengefully about your probable ancestry and uncultured nature. True story.)

(That's right, Agatha, you write what you £*%&-well please. Hmph!)

To start the 'nickel and dime'-ing process on things like borrowing certain types of media or asking to be assured of getting a particular item, it sets a bad precedent and opens the door to all sorts of other ridiculous fees that begin to annoy like an itch you complain about but can't quite be bothered to scratch.

Get it together, libraries. Do charity drives for children's literacy in the community or something, but find ways to make money that don't involve fees to reserve stuff I can't find on the shelves.

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