Posted by: mindyourknitting | August 17, 2010

Bibliophobe

Lately I’ve been using our community library.  It’s a step I’ve resisted for a long time, since I like owning the books I read, but our home book collection is getting a little out of hand and the library has the advantage of having a ton of books for Abigail that can be returned when she gets bored with them (except for Ten in the Bed, of course, which was a whole other story – and we don’t dare whisper that title in our house now, since the blasted book has of course gone missing).  Using the library has worked pretty well for the last few months, with the exception of the DAILY automated phone reminders when I have books to pick up – okaaaaay Animatronic Lady who mispronounces my name, I KNOW I have books to pick up, that’s what your online system is for, stop calling me – and the difficulty of squeezing in a trip to the library in my limited free time. 

Part of the difficulty of getting to the library stems from the fact that I want to go alone.  You see, after our first trip to the library together (and what book-loving mama doesn’t dream of that day?!)  I decided I was not taking Abigail back to the library until she stopped acting like a feral monkey child.  Generally Abigail is pretty well-behaved in public, and we have no qualms about taking her shopping with us or to a *shudder* family-friendly restaurant.  But the library … whoo boy.  She was happy enough to toodle around the kid’s section, but when I wanted to grab something off a shelf a few aisles away, she protested like I was marching her to the gallows.  Loudly.  In a library.  And I’m just not comfortable having her out of my sight in public, even if I’m nearby (I was a little scandalized by the mother left her child, who was younger than Abigail, unattended while she looked at books a few stacks away.  I must be really trustworthy-looking).  So anyhow once I had my hands on the items I required, as well as a stack of books for Abigail, we made our way to the short lineup to check them out. 

On previous visits I had noticed a colourful contraption near the counter, placed on a table that is approximately knee-high.  It was some sort of plastic marble-maze, made out of blocks in primary colours and surrounded by fake vines and plastic jungle animals. The idea is that you drop a marble into the maze/slide thingy so it can whip around the curves and drop into a big jar attached to the bottom of the table.  This contraption was at the perfect height for little hands to grab it, and did I mention that it was surrounded by plastic jungle animals?  Abigail was taken with the animals, so she grabbed two in her little sticky hands and walked a few feet away with them.  Just as I was thinking “Perfect, she’ll be entertained by those for long enough for me to get the books checked out and get the hells out of here,” the librarian, in what I can only describe as a stern librarian voice, demanded that the animals stay with the display.  Seriously, lady?  But I was in a library and on my best library behaviour, so I said fine, I would get them from her  (instead of the “are you freaking kidding me?” that was on the tip of my tongue),  but this entailed wrestling them out of my poor kid’s hands over her loud protestations, all the while holding roughly fifty-two books and trying to prevent my child from bolting back to the kids section so we wouldn’t lose our place in line.  I had to cart Abigail out while she wailed, which is my least favourite thing to do.

So no, I didn’t enjoy taking Abigail to the library (although don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that she loves books, and will make sure she had a steady fix of them), and figured it would be easier to just go by myself until she’s a bit older.  And that’s why when, earlier this week, my husband informed me that he wouldn’t be home early enough for me to make a trip to the library before it closed to pick up the book club book I had on hold but had to be picked up that day, I was not thrilled.  Since I had no choice Abigail and I made the trip to the library for what I hoped would be a very quick trip after work.  It quickly turned into nightmarish combination of A Comedy of Errors and Dante’s fifth level of hell.  I gave Abigail a few minutes in the kids section, grabbed my books on hold, and marched us up to the check-out counter. Where we faced the forbidden toddler-height toy-thingy again.  But this time Abigail contented herself with taking a rubber cheetah and having him climb the marble-run contraption, which was great until she grabbed the marble-run contraption and it came apart in her hands.  I grabbed the four pieces she was holding but couldn’t put it back together so I stood there, my mind on pause, thinking what the hell do I do now?  And then I realized that the SAME librarian from our first visit was standing at the checkout counter, doing her very best not to look at me or – god forbid – offer some help. 

And it’s at moments like that I realize how uncharitable we can be to other people – all it would have taken to make the situation a thousand times more bearable was for her to say “gee, that happens all the time” (because really, doesn’t it?  How could it not?  It’s primary-coloured plastic, surrounded by toy animals at the perfect height for little hands, for crying out loud!), and “here let me help you with that.”  But instead I stood there with the dismantled thingy in my hands, trying to balance my purse, books, and Abigail, and all the while my brain is stuttering like a needle stuck in a record groove.  I couldn’t figure out what to do, and became more flustered by the moment.  Finally the adult part of my brain kicked in, I thought“fuck it,” I’m a grownup and I don’t have to deal with this.  I put the pieces of thingy on the table amidst the stupid plastic jungle animals, took the kid by the hand, and approached the counter to check my books out.  If the librarian wasn’t going to help me put that thing back together, I wasn’t going to worry too much about it, and would manage a dignified exit.  I went to hand over my library card and….couldn’t find it.  It had fallen out of my wallet at some point in the kerfuffle, and I remember asking Abigail to pick it up for me because my hands were full of her destruction, but I couldn’t figure out what she had done with it.  So I spent an uncomfortable two minutes searching the floor for it, when the Unhelpful Librarian says “*huff* It’s right here.”  Abigail had, against all odds, put it on the check-out counter, RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE LIBRARIAN.  We finally escaped with our books, and in retrospect I keep thinking that this experience felt exactly like it does when you’re pushing your kid in a stroller (especially when they’re really little and you’re a new mom and you have little idea what you’re doing) and the douchebag in front of you lets the door slam on you and the stroller on the way into a store.  It would take so little to make something easier for you, but someone else can’t be bothered.

 Oh, and the book club book that I need to have read by September 1st because I host book club next month?  I had accidentally ordered the book on audio CD, so I had to request an actual book copy.  It came in today, but the copy was so tattered the librarian SENT IT BACK and requested the next available copy.  I give up, I’m going to Chapters to buy the book and the library can suck it – I tried.   

Oh, and if, say, hypothetically, your kid ripped a whole page out of a library book, what would you do?

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Responses

  1. So funny and so painful at the same time. The librarian sounds like a book-nazi who was a former civil servant. (no offence ms civil servant). I used to love libraries, before the Internet, and worked at 3 diff ones over the years. I learned how to paint in watercolours by ordering dozens of books through inter-library loans in Petawawa.

  2. OMG…you poor thing…um…my mom works at the library…I should find out which one, she loves taking care of little kids when they come in to get books!

  3. My boys have both mangled that same animal thingy. Though I lucked out and got the nice male librarian who was very sympathetic. I’ve finished the book and am bringing it home tomorrow night if you want to borrow my library copy. We should be home by 7pm.

  4. Ouch! Not exactly a service announcement for OPL. The lady at the front counter was likely part-time clerk with, obviously, a stick up her butt (and not a friendly, professionally trained, service-oriented librarian like myself 🙂

  5. My kid has also played with the animals, screamed in the kid section and taken a running jump off the step and fallen on his head. All with spectators- hurrah!

    Oh and I’d just tape the page in. I’ve had to previously tape an almost ripped out page.

  6. I can’t help but wonder if the librarian lady went home & wrote her own blog post about your “adventure to the library” Maybe it went something like this: UGH, that woman and her kid came back today…it’s ok I got her back for all the aggravation she has caused me. I sent her stupid book back. I then proceeded to order every copy they had at Chapters in the entire Outaouais. Lets see how that over protective mother likes me now! Why can’t she just stick her kid in the kids section like anyone else? And what’s the deal with the kid always having to play with my animal jungle marble thingy anyway?

    I love reading your blog Trista, you make me feel so normal! 🙂


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