Biting Tongues

Usually the Merry Librarian features stories about how patrons treat librarians or library facilities. This week, however, we have a small example of the shocking way patrons often treat one another. Isn’t the library supposed to be a happy place? After all, free access to literature and information should make everyone happy. We think so anyway…

The Story of the Week this week is from Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“WOW…some people amaze me.  Prepare to be a little bit appalled.

A mother and son came in today to use the computers. When he presented his library card, it showed that an item was never returned from 2004.  I’m going to say that it is likely he has NO IDEA where the card is.  He was being charged for the item, a fine that was $11, so he was unable to use the computer until he paid for the item.

While I was explaining this to them, a lady behind them loudly GASPED.  Meanwhile, I found a solution for the mother and son so they could get their work done.

The gasper was next in line, and she needed a library card.  She asked me, very loudly (the mother and son were less than 10 feet away), “Why don’t they just pay the fine?!?!?”

Well…there are a myriad of reasons…usually they don’t have the cash with them…so I just shrugged, smiled, and went about giving her a library card.

She then sneered in their direction and said, “SCUM!”

DANG!!  Really?  Do you have to call patrons names while you are at my desk?  I have no judgement against someone who elects to not pay a fine.  In this case the card was blocked, so it’s not like they are trying to swindle the library!  Who knows the circumstances…but it isn’t really any of my business anyway.

The mother returned to line after she got her son set-up on the computer.  Now she was behind “Gasp-y.”  Knowing this, Gasp-y decided to say, “I had a library card a long time ago, but I don’t know if I’m in your system.  I rarely had fines, and when I did I always paid them.  But I most certainly never kept a book!”

I just smiled and said, “Oh…things happen, ya know?  I have fines all the time and sometimes I misplace an item I’ve checked out…I’ve paid many fines and replacement costs over the years…it happens…”

In case the mother was listening, I desperately wanted to reduce any embarrassment this passive aggressive library saint might create!

I completed giving “Gasp-y” her library card, and she asked me, “Where can I find your Christian non-fiction?”


-“Darcie” from Colorado Springs, CO

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