The 5 People Who Make Me Hate the Public Library

library overdueThroughout high school and some of college, I worked for a public library. While the hours were flexible and the rules lax (sleeping downstairs was a personal work habit of mine), it was during this time that I came to learn just what a travesty of public funding libraries really are – what antiquated hovels they’ve become.

You have to take two tests to get a driver’s license. You can’t drink alcohol until you’re 21. Hell, it takes a credit card and eight other forms of I.D. to get a Blockbuster card. But all you need to get a library card is your signature and a pulse — and even then, sometimes that’s not necessary. Yep, libraries are required to take in anyone and everyone, and it’s due to these ultra-easy membership guidelines that I started to hate the library. Loathe the library. Fear the library.

When BOOKGASM’s editor recently published his list of the nine most annoying bookstore patrons, it reminded me of my tour of duty at the library and why only very rarely, in the most extreme of cases, have I used them since. Unlike bookstores, which can refuse service to anyone because they are a business, libraries don’t have the same luxury, and here are the five kinds that ruin it for everyone:

Let’s be honest: Even just walking down the street, the homeless are an eyesore. You do everything possible to avoid making eye contact with them, trying your best to avoid their dry-heave-inducing scent. But hey, it’s a city street and they have every right to drink themselves into a deathly stupor there. More power to them!

But given those free, wide-open concrete beddings, why must they filthy up my local library? And even worse, why have we becomes such a bleeding-heart, politically correct society that refuses to call the cops and throw those bums out as soon as they walk in through the automatic sliding doors? I don’t care if it’s freezing cold or sweltering hot – libraries are not shelters!

Libraries smell bad enough already, don’t they? The moldy books, the musty air-conditioner, the Fritos corn-chip-like stench that seems to emanate from every children’s section – add to that a dirty hobo who just shit his pants and I’m ready to take my money from that bond issue back! I would much rather spend that cash to construct a shanty-town of sorts, on the outskirts of town, surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards, allowing the homeless to form their own community, possibly with their own libraries. I’ve got a garage full of Readers’ Digest Condensed Books that I’d be more than happy to donate.

vulture spider-manTHE PERVERTED
I originally wanted to title this category “The Single Guys,” but really, who’s more single than the sexually perverted elderly man who hangs out in stacks all day long, hoping to catch a quick upskirt? They are usually easy to spot, with many either looking like Spider-Man’s nemesis The Vulture or, even worse, character actor Pruitt Taylor Vince.

They always act like they are “looking” for a hard-to-find book, but more often than not are instead peering through the shelves at their masturbatorial prey. They stalk, they hunt and, when caught, they quickly look the other way, as if to appear inconspicuous. But we all know what they’re doing.

And if this all weren’t bad enough, then they stay in the bathroom for long periods of time. I know that our esteemed editor is against “dumping” at the bookstore, but when you are working on a time-consuming project at the library, sometimes a dump is inescapable. But, instead, you have to keel over and squirm with poop-cramps in your chair as the pervo locks himself in the stall and has no intention of coming out. Not even the not-so-subtle, loud throat-clearing will drive this creep out of his makeshift sexual habitat.

Here’s a tip, though: I have found that if you pretend to talk on your cell phone in the restroom, saying things like, “Yeah, there’s this creepy pedophile dude walking around. … I think I might use the Internet to look up the local sex offender registry,” they clear out pretty quickly. Just wipe down the seat.

library kidsTHE MOTHERS
We live in a day and age where too many mothers have become lazy, aging tweens, unwilling to take care of their own kids if it infringes upon their “me time.” Now, I can only imagine what their “me time” exactly entails, but I do know that it involves dropping the poor lil’ bastards off in the children’s section and leaving them there for hours on end. Sure, I’m all for children’s storytimes – a little Curious George and a Styrofoam cup of apple juice is good for the kiddie soul – but don’t desert them for six hours before the thing. How irresponsible are you? Oh, yeah: Very.

The bigger question is why, if your “me time” is so important, do you even bother to have children? Are they the human equivalent of Paris Hilton’s chihuahua? Are they nothing more than an accessory that you have to clothe and feed? Not to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but I remember a time when not only did moms (or gay single dads, for you liberals) sit and enjoy reading time with their tots, but before and after, they also read with them themselves. It was fun family “us time.”

But, in this era of parental selfishness, those days are dead, and it is really showing, as more and more children are growing up to be “guyliner”-wearing emo assholes who wear extremely tight pants and cut themselves. Thanks, Mom!

vida guerra nakedTHE MOVIE-RENTERS
I won’t hold back on this one: If you use the library exclusively to rent movies, you are human garbage. No other library patron causes me more anger than those who use the public library as their own personal Blockbuster. It has always infuriated me that libraries have video rentals to begin with; what better way to make sure people won’t read than to give them the movie instead?

When libraries started to carry videos, they opened up a whole new clientele to the system that guaranteed I’d never go back: white trash. They are so eager to get their tapes – just watch their grubby little, puke-stained brats run from the entrance right to the movies, stumbling and tripping over each other. “Y’all only get five moobies each now, you hear!” their extremely obese mother calls out as she walks to the counter to return her (of course, overdue) movies, upon which during checkout, she’ll fight the charges with every ounce of strength in her KFC Famous Bowl-covered heart.

What’s worse is that for a library to carry a movie, they no longer have to have any literary merit at all. In the past, all most libraries had was the complete 27-volume BRIDESHEAD REVISITED miniseries and maybe a couple of documentaries about traveling to Belgium. Now, most libraries do away with the education factor, instead stocking movies like THE MATRIX RELOADED, WILD WILD WEST, or, in the case of my local library, NATIONAL LAMPOON’S DORM DAZE 2. I shit you not. I say get rid of all VHS and DVD from public libraries and spend that money on better, more up-to-date books and reading programs.

Besides, poor people, we already have a library for those types of media: It’s called fucking Blockbuster Video! Sell some food stamps if you need a movie that bad.

(NOTE: This also goes for people who use the library exclusively for the Internet as well.)

Everyone – well, most dudes, at least – have this fantasy of the repressed-yet-ultimately sexually voracious librarian, who, once her hair comes down from its bun, is a Dewey Decimalized sex machine. Too bad this could not be further from the truth, regardless of what the Suicide Girls’ bios’ say.

No, most librarians are very bitter, very mannish 65-year-olds who hate you for your unwasted youth and vitality, and show it by acting completely resentful when you ask them to do some semblance of work. Like postal workers, I’m sure they got into library sciences for a cool summertime gig, but, when life continued to pass them by like out of a scene in George Pal’s THE TIME MACHINE (picture it!), they found themselves on the brink of death and have nothing better in their lives than to take it out on you. It’s like living in a waking nightmare, I’m sure.

Luckily, in the next 20 to 30 years, through the use of computers, we’ll happily phase out the librarian and their sourpuss mugs. Electronic search systems will help us find the book, and, much like in many grocery stores now, you’ll self-checkout the book. Yes, at least in this respect, the future of your local library just got a little bit brighter.

But, like I said, that’s still a good two or three decades out. So while you wait, exclusively shop at local bookstores, buying the books you want. If you want them at cheap prices, order them from Amazon’s marketplace. The next time there’s a vote to increase funding for public libraries, vote against it! It’s up to you to shut these dens of literary inequity down. After all, they did bring it upon themselves. –Louis Fowler

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Comment by Katherine Redwine
2008-04-11 08:54:29

Yeah, I’m bitter after dealing with people like you who hate everyone who isn’t like you. Public libraries have their problems, but it is the only place anyone can enter without being judged (I hope!). And I’m not even 65 yet!

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Comment by Louis Fowler
2008-04-12 16:48:10

OK. Fine then. 64. You win!

Comment by tanya
2012-07-16 16:11:42

I use to go to my library without being judged, but here lately I have noticed that the librarians are very judgemental and rude and make rude faces showing their judgementalness. I use to love going to the library. Now I am thinking about moving just so I can enjoy my library again. These librarians are a bunch of stiffs that scoffed and laugh and talked behind my back in whispers because my family is louder than they should be in the library. I think they should get over it. We are being quiet for us, and nobody was studying anyway. The library is small enough that you can see if somebody is studying.

Comment by Troy
2008-04-11 08:55:06

“But, in this era of parental selfishness, those days are dead, and it is really showing, as more and more children are growing up to be “guyliner”-wearing emo assholes who wear extremely tight pants and cut themselves. Thanks, Mom!”

Thanks! I about spit my coffee on the monitor this morning.

Great entry.

Take care,

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Comment by NI
2008-04-11 09:49:41

Sure. Let’s fix all these problems by making reading an exclusive, elite activity, and then the idiots that really need it will be locked out because they smell bad, or because they like trashy movies, or because they’re actually male & human.

This is a brilliant idea. This way, whenever anybody wants to lock information away, they can say that you must be bitter, disillusioned, and jealous of youth, and kick you out.

Maybe we should make a library application form that asks how much money you make, and we can screen that way.

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Comment by Louis Fowler
2008-04-12 16:47:17

Finally! Someone who gets what I am trying to do. Your ideas are great and I do wish we could put them into practice immediately, but, you know, liberal congress and all…

Comment by luke
2009-09-24 14:45:23

Hey I’ve worked for libraries for 4 years now and I know from experience that not one homeless presson has checked out books or movies in my tenure. The simple trurts is that these people are not tax payers and mostly not voters. Yes there is an elevated number of homeless these days and the truth is that anyone that shows interest in getting a job or learning something new they have my full interest and i work at a big library too. That expand nearly two city blocks and have 4 stories. But mostly im surrounded my people living of my taxes and pissing me off. I mean how can you have 4 kids and come here and sit at a computer for 8 hours. You dont have a job and your on welfare. At least the homeless arnt on welfare thats what makes them tollerable. (Sorry about the spelling but i dont have time to use spell check.)

Comment by Corey Redekop
2008-04-11 10:10:03

Normally I wouldn’t comment about such blatherings, but being a public librarian myself, I don’t see as I have a choice.

I enjoyed the similar entry Nine Most Annoying Bookstore Patrons as far as it went, but this list is simple intolerance mixed with personal gripes and a marked degree of selfishness and hatred.

The idea that libraries should not offer videos is absurd. The core mandate of any public library is to offer the community as many resources as possible. At one time, libraries would not have deigned to offer any popular fiction at all, content to supply literary classics to the exclusion of what everyone else was actually interested in. Times change. If you don’t like that the library offers its patrons a choice, I would advise you to simply ignore that area of the library. Granted, Dorm Daze 2 seems a little out of place, but libraries survive by offering as wide a selection as possible to every single library user. Many of my patrons hate the fact (quite vocally) that we offer alternative literature and non-fiction resources centred on homosexuality. I offer these items because, as the Canadian Library Association so adequately puts it, “It is the responsibility of libraries to guarantee and facilitate access to all expressions of knowledge and intellectual activity, including those which some elements of society may consider to be unconventional, unpopular or unacceptable. To this end, libraries shall acquire and make available the widest variety of materials.”

Yes, libraries sometimes have become harbours for the homeless. It is a peril of offering information resources to ALL. If someone is making a fuss, you are prefectly within your rights to complain. If someone offends you merely by their presence, I submit that this is due to personal bias, and not something a library can do anything about.

And perverts, unfortunately, are everywhere. If you suspect someone of stalking, report it. But I think you’ll find that it is extremely hard to convict someone of standing where you don’t want them to be. Librarians hate them as much as anyone (I have thrown out two truly despicable creatures in my time), but you can’t convict based on innuendo.

All that said, yes, libraries are not day-cares, and it is a sad fact that many people see them as such. If you are concerned, call family services. If the kids are causing trouble, complain. If the librarian refuses, complain to the board. No child under eleven should be left alone unsupervised. We librarians hate this as much as you do.

All this should not reflect the general blog Bookgasm, of which I have the highest respect.

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Comment by NI
2008-04-11 10:36:19

Hear hear.

Comment by Carl
2008-04-11 15:36:37

oooooo… a librarian… just curious… my dog chewed up a library book, so of course I did the right thing – threw it in the book return and ran like hell. That was about 10 years ago. Is there a statute of limitations for such things? The dog died a couple years ago (:'() if that makes any difference.

Comment by Corey Redekop
2008-04-11 16:52:48

You’ve probably been deleted from the system by now, so you’re very likely safe (if this is indeed a serious question). Most librarians are pretty flexible, and if you’re honest when books are damaged, they’ll be more receptive to bargains than simply running away and not acknowledging it. I know I prefer it when people come up and talk to me rationally. I’ve had a few people who have damaged books, tried to hide their actions, then argued like hell that the book was like that when they took it out. For the record, we do NOT let books in any state of obvious disrepair go out.

Just be honest. We’ll find it refreshing.

Comment by Carl
2008-04-11 21:33:33

YES!!! I’ll get a new card, tomorrow. And I’ll donate some of the 1200 books I’ve bought over the years to make amends. But I won’t admit to anything! Thank you 🙂

Comment by Sean
2011-11-29 11:59:44

Oh, now I feel MUCH better – well said : )

Comment by Sgt. Daniel Wayne Lewis
2012-05-13 03:53:15

I concur fully.
When I was a child in foster homes in the 80s, the library was the one place I could go to escape the ruckus and tumult of my daily existence. We had a very small library, so I read everything from Jane’s Book Of Ships to Brassey’s Encyclopedia Of Land Warfare, to Jane Eyre and Kristen Lavransdatter, to Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy and Dumas. My natural family is quite uneducated and impoverished, and thanks to the library, I was able to obtain a “true education.”
When I was living in my pickup truck and trying to obtain work, the librarys computers enabled me to discover the opportunities available here in North Dakota, a resource I would not have been able to utilize on my own meagre resources.
I enjoy going to the library, despite the aforementioned problems. Yes, I agree that there are issues with the behaviour of some people, et al, and in some major cities, it can be substantial, but the library is one of the few enviroments where I feel safe and relaxed in dealing with other human beings since my discharge from the service.
I daresay that anyone who thinks they are superior to another human being simply due to their chance birth into more favourable economic circumstances has not himself picked up more than a popular fiction novel. A lesson in Ernest Hemingway or Aleksander Solzyhnitsen would teach that.

Comment by Michael
2008-04-11 10:28:45

Nearly all your complaints are perfectly valid, and the trick is to use your library without hanging out there where you have to put up with all this shit. My library system (Dekalb County, GA) is extremely good. It gets about 95% of the books I want to read, and they have a website where you can put a hold on books. I keep lists of forthcoming books, check the website every day, and put a hold on them while they’re still “on order”. Then when they come in I’m notified by email and I go pick them up. I enjoy the benefit of free books without ever spending more than maybe five minutes in a library.

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Comment by Drew
2008-04-11 11:25:39

Uh . . . isn’t this a humor piece?

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Comment by Louis Fowler
2008-04-12 16:50:54

No, this is a serious manifesto. For more on this topic, please send $1 to my PO box. Blessings upon you!

Comment by Tom Power
2008-04-15 15:55:39

No, a humor piece would contain “funny.” This is a hate-full and hateful diatribe.

Comment by Ame
2008-04-21 20:58:46

Not into satire, huh?

Comment by jana
2008-04-11 12:01:44

You should come to a Medical Library — no “mannish-looking old librarians” there. We are all young-looking sexy librarians!

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Comment by King Rat
2008-04-11 13:14:22

Sweet! I’m going to head over to read all about otosclerosis now.

Comment by Louis Fowler
2008-04-12 16:52:32

Unless you post some sexy pics, I’ll never believe you.

Comment by Sgt. Daniel Wayne Lewis
2012-05-13 03:55:34

I doubt he is intelligent enough to read Latin or understand more than the diatribes of Rupert Murdoch and Company, and he would be disgusted with the Hippocratic Oath.

Comment by pussreboots
2008-04-11 14:07:52

You must live in a hell hole of intolerance if that’s your public library. Mine is very nice even with the videos, occasional homeless, children and I’ll be the obese mom (but not checking out videos). I have been to KFC in 20 years.

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Comment by Thorpe
2008-04-12 04:26:07

Some of the pervs don’t even bother hiding in the bathroom. They’ll crank it at the computers to porn sites.

My least favorite type are the bitter old cranks, the sort of guys who probably spend hours of the day composing angry letters-to-the-editor and live to hassle people with their ranting and raving. Ex. 1 – the short, sour faced man ahead of me at a library help-desk one day who said the staff were “fascist Nazis” because the library didn’t stock enough JFK/UFO/9-11/fake moon landing/etc. conspiracy books to suit him. Ex. 2 – the hunched over old coot who haranged a friend as he waited in line because said friend was wearing a windbreaker with the logo of the grocery chain store he worked at on it. Old coot had noticed it and went off on my friend about how companies were evil and he was a capitalist drone and personally terrible and evil.

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Comment by Louis Fowler
2008-04-12 16:56:04

“Old Cranks and Elderly Coots” was going to be the sixth person that ha smade me hate the library, but I didn’t want to offend anyone.

Comment by matt
2008-04-12 14:53:52

Woah – just stick to reviewing books, ok? I like how “obese women” are always associated with “white trash” or viewed as the lowest form of human life. Because people get to be overweight simply because they are unintelligent and lazy, right? Not because there are emotional and psychological issues involved. Certainly not.

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Comment by admin
2008-04-12 16:26:31

Hey, it’s not for nothing Oklahoma City has been named by Fortune magazine as the fast-food capital of the nation! We’re #1! In the extremely obese!

Comment by Louis Fowler
2008-04-12 17:04:43

You’re getting it all wrong. “Obese women”, by me at least, are not viewed as the “lowest form of life”.

No, white trash in general is the lowest form of life, and, usually, it just happens that 75% of women who are white trash, at least in Oklahoma where I base most of these recollections, are graphically obese.

(On a personal level though, the only real obese people who I just plain hate are fat guys who sit around jacking off to old episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” while writing fan letters to Kristen Bell. Those guys are reallllly sad.)

Comment by Allan
2008-04-12 17:25:28

Dear Kristen

How have you been doing? It’s been a week since I last wrote and I still haven’t heard anything back from you. That’s okay, I understand that doing the narration for GOSSIP GIRL and filming all of those reshoots for FANBOYS has really put a strain on your schedule. Take your time, there’s no rush.

I hope you’re doing good. Today totally sucked for me. First I accidentally scratched the the fourth disk from the third season, which is the one with “The Zeppo” on it and that’s only my third favourite Xander-centric episode of all time! I guess I’m going to have to go out and buy a new copy to replace it.

But that wasn’t even the worst part! Just a few hours after I scratched the disc I read this comment on a book review website about how much this guy hates me just because I’m a bit overweight and I like watching the MOST AWESOME TV SHOW OF ALL TIME while I write letters to the former star of TV’s ALL TIME CUTEST TEENAGE DETECTIVE. Why would he write something like that? What did I ever do to him? I don’t understand why some people can only make themselves feel good by hating everyone else. It’s just lame and it makes me sad.

Anyway, I better get back to Buffy. Before I go though, if you happen to run into Alexis Bledel sometime soon, could you ask her why she had a lawyer send me a restraining order. She had to know that I was just kidding! I don’t even own a horse!

Your Number One Fan

Allan Mott

Comment by Louis Fowler
2008-04-12 17:32:50

Yes, like that!

Comment by Sgt. Daniel Wayne Lewis
2012-05-13 04:12:13

Who are you to designate whom is trash and who is not? It is you and your ilk who insist upon starting wars with people on the other side of the world, whom enslaved other human beings because of the colour of their skin, and whom through their lack of true education are inable to commit more than the occasional hateful remark or insult to the English language. What I find disgusting is men who claim the title of superiority over human beings whom have been denied the advantages they themselves have enjoyed since birth, who then wish to deny even more people opportunities to advance, and then in turn, criticize people whom are not able to advance themselves! If you feel the need to prove your manhood, then you should attempt engaging an adversary whom can return in kind, not those whom are already defenseless and shattered by the storms of life’s tempests. I hail from humble origins, yet I tread through the Valley Of Death that claimed better men than I, men such as Alexander and Darius the Meade; I will be surprised if you even understand the reference. I cannot stand people whom have bravery when it comes to attacking children, homeless men (many of whom served in the military, and have the right to use a computer to watch a video if they so desire), women, and educators, yet will not engage in combat that is mental nor physical with someone of greater wits, intellect, and most likely, physical prowess than they themselves profess… Instead of loosely flapping ones gums like a rusty hinge, drive to your local recruiting office and pick up something heavier than a laptop. I am proud of my humble heritage, and proud that I do not have to base my manhood on attacking the weak and defenseless.

Comment by Eric L
2008-04-12 23:08:13

I don’t disagree with your POV on people using the library only to rent videos, but I do use the library to watch TV shows on DVD. I finished DEADWOOD seasons 1 and 2 (and am still waiting to start season 3. I’m on the list, but it seems like it’s a long list) and am currently watching BATTLESTAR GALACTICA SEASON 1. To rent a movie is $5 and I can swing that, but a box set can add up to $25 or so which seems silly considering you can borrow for free.

I’m like the guy a few posts above- I put my stuff on hold via the internet, when it comes in I head on over and leave in less that 5 minutes. Libraries are great, but there’s no reason to hang around them.

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Comment by Keith
2008-04-13 14:38:33

You are so on the mark. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I worked for my community college’s library back when I was in college. From what went on there and what I could see on the local public library, you are right on the money. I’m glad to hear someone say it. We live in such politically correct times that we are frowned upon if we speak the truth. Bleeding hearts, etc. get so upset if we are critical of the unwashed masses. Great blog post. I loved it.

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Comment by WordClay
2008-04-13 19:54:09

I could not agree more with your post! Before coming to work with WordClay, I worked for my local library. I can identify especially with “The Mothers.” I have had to report a few in my history at the library. Anyway- excellent post!

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Comment by Tim Bird
2008-04-14 02:01:06

I remember a while back, a homeless man whose constant staring at people and body odor so offended patrons at a library in New Jersey he was asked to leave. He sued and was rewarded like $150,000 or something. What a world we live in.

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Comment by Thorpe
2008-04-14 04:49:43

The crazies and weirdos, you gots to watch out for. One library I frequented had a regular known as Ms. Kook. She was a fortyish black woman with a high-rise frizzy hairdo and spent lots of time at the library researching, she said (well more like told to anyone she thought would listen, even if they weren’t) for her upcoming case against her former employers at some government agency and local law enforcement for derailing her promising career as an accountant, harassing her via phone taps, threatening calls and jacking up all her phone bills in the hundreds of dollars. Fortunately, as she was quick to tell everyone, William Jefferson Clinton and the state’s attorney general had heard of her plight and were going to aid her any day now.

Or the guy who haunted a county library. A creepy middle-aged gentleman who was in no way covert with his leering glances at the younger female staffers and patrons. He tried to hit on some of them apparently, trying to wow them with his blather about TV show trivia and such. He only left one day after a regular patron, a quiet young woman, snapped and told him to shut the fsck up and stop standing so close to her table. She later told some of us he was so close to her she felt his breath on her neck. Mortified, he left and was never heard from again in the years since.

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Comment by Andrew
2008-04-14 08:53:08

Hehe… Who’s been trip-trapping over my bridge?

Love your work. It’s amazing how many library users (and sometimes workers) harbour these kind of revolting sentiments of prejudice… and feel entirely justified in expressing them.

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Comment by fletch
2008-04-23 07:59:52

Well there is that free speech thing. Louis is right on the money. I used to be able to the library as a kid andit was a great safe place. Now a days it’s the opposite! You can’t leave your kids alone for a minute, the place is gross and smelly, the pepople working there are hella rude!!! It’s like a garage sale where you don’t have to pay for anything.

Comment by J. S.
2008-04-14 14:47:27

My library already has electronic check out!

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Comment by Anarchivist
2008-04-14 14:57:37

Funny, the only one on the list that bothers me at my public library is the Mothers. We get the rest, but I have no problem with them. Maybe that just says something about me…

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Comment by Eric L
2008-04-14 20:11:14

He tried to hit on some of them apparently, trying to wow them with his blather about TV show trivia and such.

Are you implying that women aren’t interested in guys who use TV trivia as pick up lines? In retrospect that explains a lot.

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Comment by Moist
2008-04-15 13:17:33

“Hey, baby, let me tell you about what happened previously on Battlestar Galactica.”

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Comment by Grace
2008-04-16 11:46:41

I’ve been a public librarian for 15 years – since I was 23 – so I’m nowhere near 65 and I’m not bitter. In fact I have a pretty cool job running our library’s website. Several of your points are valid – libraries being public institutions get every kind of customer imaginable – because we’re public. And unfortunately, some of us do have some staff who may be a bit past their prime. However, you say:

“Luckily, in the next 20 to 30 years, through the use of computers, we’ll happily phase out the librarian and their sourpuss mugs. Electronic search systems will help us find the book, and, much like in many grocery stores now, you’ll self-checkout the book. Yes, at least in this respect, the future of your local library just got a little bit brighter.”

I respectfully disagree that the librarian will be phased out. We’ve had search systems for years now and while Google and other search engines have made it much easier to find quick answers, your local librarian who is trained in search methods can help with more difficult searches.

I’d also recommend checking out what your local library offers, you may be surprised if you haven’t visited lately. Yes, most of us have DVDs and videos – as one of the commenter’s said, that’s because our communities want them. But, we also have paid databases that have quality information that simply can’t be found through an Internet search – and it’s free. You can also find downloadable electronic books, audio books, movies, and music at many libraries. Programming options have expanded beyond story times for children to include programming for teens and adults. And, we still have books.

While you still may run into some interesting folks at the library, it’s well worth a visit either in person or online. BTW, many libraries already have self-checkout.

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Comment by John A. Karr
2008-04-16 21:35:25

Careful, you may run into Librarian Sirens:

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Comment by Danika
2008-04-19 17:48:55

I couldn’t agree more! How dare people be poor, enjoy movies, or be 65! And dare to show their faces in public! The world we live in, indeed.

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Comment by Carolyn
2008-04-19 22:02:19

Finally, someone who shows my anger towards the public library and about 70% of the people who attend it. I am currently working in a public library. The only reason I tolerate it is because I started in high school and just started college and need flexible hours. The homeless reek to the point that I have to spray air freshener after they leave, if they ever leave before closing. The mothers let their kids tear the children’s section apart and snot on everything while they look on obliviously at their little angels. I have already had 3 men escorted out of the library by police for harassing me to leave with them after they watch porn on our unfiltered computers. And what is the point of checking out 10 movies at a time unless for illegally copying them, unless they truly have that much free time on their hands. No wonder these old grouchy women hate life and people, we’re half way there. I have truly come to appreciate going to school for an education to get the hell out of serving the public.

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Comment by Hyper Thalamus
2008-04-21 09:44:26

I can’t believe how many people are completely dead to sarcasm and irony! Come on, folks – lighten up! This piece is well-written and funny. It’s a good rant. You probably never liked Don Rickles or Lenny Bruce either.

I can vouch for a lot of this – I worked in a public library. If you work in a library and you don’t like this piece, then you most likely resemble part of it, or you’re not being honest.

Fact is – homeless people DO shit their pants in the library. They DO pass out in the media viewing stations and piss themselves. Creepy old dudes CERTAINLY DO take “breast examination” materials into the men’s room for extended periods of time. When you take a position at the library, you do not consider that this sort of thing will ever be part of your job.

I live in a town that USED TO have a state-of-the-art mental institution, but the taxpayers – in their wisdom and desire to save a buck or two – decided we didn’t need such things, and so these folks are now just turned loose and basically on their own. You’d best believe they ALL come to the library.

So, while the taxpayer is “saving money,” the good folks who work the desks are dealing with crazies who scream obscenities and throw things at them, threaten suicide in the local pond, and then the police must be called, etc etc etc. . . are we still saving money? Promise people a tax cut, and they bark and clap like Pavlovian walruses.

Anyway – I digress — this is some funny stuff ’cause there’s a lot of truth in it. Don’t listen to the nae-sayers!

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Comment by Amee
2008-04-21 21:44:38

It’s not all that well done, but it still doesn’t take much to figure it out.

Comment by Hyper Thalamus
2008-04-21 22:23:24

Not sure what you mean, Arnee. All of the subjects and/or objects of your sentence are the word, “IT”

“IT’s not all that well done, but IT still doesn’t take much to figure IT out” .. . ha ha ha ha. . . I’m sorry – really I’m not trying to be an a-hole – i just want to understand what you meant.

Hyper Thalamus

Comment by Eric
2008-04-29 19:48:44

This post is elitist and stupid. Not saying that about you, you may or may not be (maybe you just had nothing else to write about). This is the public library funded by tax payer dollars which would allow any tax payer entrance, with their warts and pet peeves and whatnot.

As for the homeless, sometimes people fall on hard times, there have been rich and famous, Harvard graduates, and so on who have been homeless. Anyways if they want to learn something to maybe earn a living, who’s to stop them. You would have kicked out the real Chris Gardner from the Pursuit of Happyness out when he’s trying to support his family but can’t afford to buy text books.

If sounds if it was up to you, you would do the Brave New World thing and put people in castes and put the Epsilons in the circular file, when if you were born in that situation, how would you feel if no one gave you a chance. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses, but as human beings we need to learn to accept and live with one another. Most avid book lovers and authors would agree with that concept.

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Comment by fletch
2008-04-29 22:59:39

“Call us when the space shuttle lands.”

Comment by CJHill
2008-05-04 16:14:28

You know, I’ve always believed that a writer who needs to vilify people and spout inane generalizations in the name of humor is really rather sad.


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2008-05-22 06:52:40

[…] did we ever get lambasted for our distaste-of-public-libraries piece! But Scott Douglas’ nonfiction work QUIET, PLEASE: DISPATCHES FROM A PUBLIC LIBRARIAN […]

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Comment by Angie
2010-01-20 01:12:13

I used to work at a public library too, and I can feel you on the movies for sure. Oh, and we had a foot fetish man who hung around the stacks and stared at ladies’ feet. No sandal wearing for us while we were on the job!

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Comment by Callie
2010-02-16 14:32:57

Um, yeah, really people. This is funny stuff! It’s not like he’s trying to be prejudice or anything, he’s stating facts. There really are people like this that go to public libraries. Bugs the HELL outta me, that’s for sure. Lighten up, would ya?

So for anyone that commented anything on here about this being a bad piece or Louis writing about hate and stuff like that, I disagree. Ha.

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Comment by Ferris
2010-08-27 15:38:37

I am a 28 year old public librarian and I agree with you on every single aspect of this, but I am not a mannish lady. I am heavily tattooed and so are most of the young women I work with.

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Comment by Jane
2013-09-18 10:28:36

Another reason why I’m happier not to go to the library. It makes me sad that you all don’t have enough sense of your uniqueness that you need to scar yourselves.

Comment by Doreen
2010-08-30 10:32:52

Ok – I found this piece funny and very apropo. This weekend I just happened to be at my local library (Aurora, Co.) when the cops had to be called. One guy was schizo and trying to pick a fight with a big black man who was only there to work on his college paper. They had to get ems to come and take schizo off to the mental ward for eval. Meanwhile – I am trying to tiptoe around them looking for some new books that I haven’t already read while they’ve got 5 cops and 3 ems workers trying to ‘talk’ this guy down. Not that I don’t enjoy watching human drama in action, but when I go to the library I just want to get some interesting reading material that isn’t over 20 years old. After spending 2 hours searching, I left with 2 books I already read but which were worth another read, and 4 books on subjects I am mildly interested in. It seems like my local library has stopped buying any new magazines, limited new books and are just moving in items from other local libraries that they are closing. I think soon libraries will be shut down and you’ll only have the internet clubs meet there. There were 10 times more people playing games on the computer than were looking for books. Why can’t we combine our resources, from the extinct libraries – keep the homeless out (face it they aren’t there to read a book), and buy some NEW reading materials. If you want music or videos – go to Blockbuster…. the library should be for BOOKS. Let’s get some new material in there!
By the way Louis – you are a funny guy!

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Comment by Dont Work For A Library
2011-03-30 19:32:44

Those of us that work for libraries KNOW exactly what he is talking about.

Those that get “offended” usually are:

A) Some bleeding heart patron that thinks because they come there once a week or so, they have any clue what it is like working there most of the week for a whole year!

Here a clue-in: That “adorable” homeless guy that adds to your yuppie visual safari in the “city”, stinks most of the week, brings in bags of trash, demands that we look up random magazine articles that he wants printed out for free, sneaks food, and leaves a mess at the table he had occupied from open to when he had to leave to go to the shelter!

B) Some librarian that gets to hide out in their cubicle for most of the day while letting the clerks deal with this chaos, and thus has the same bleeding heart BS view of these nut-jobs that yuppie patron has.

And of course when the poor clerks have to lay down the law on one of these #$%@, they go run to the librarian that, because they think they know better, just gives them what they want, totally declawing the clerk that they then still expect to control the chaos WHILE THEY GO BACK AND HIDE IN THEIR CUBICLE!

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Comment by R
2011-03-31 18:55:57

So many anger issues in this thread.

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Comment by s
2011-09-06 15:36:02

Finally! There’s someone who feels the way I do about public libraries.

I only stay at my local branch long enough to pick up my reserved books or DVDs. Whenever I stayed for hours, I’d have to deal with hearing kids talk and giggle amongst themselves; children coming up to me , asking me for supplies, bothersome librarians (Yes, I know that the library will close in 15 minutes. It was announced on the PA system a second ago!), etc.

Jeez, I’m not everyone’s mother. How pathetic it is that someone in their 20s who doesn’t want children has to take care of other people’s children because the parents don’t take responsibility for them.

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Comment by R
2011-11-30 09:31:15

Hey, s. You’re only one letter away from me in the alphabet. We have a lot in common. Would you have my baby?

Comment by Slade Grayson
2011-12-01 00:52:46

Will you name the baby T?

Comment by K
2011-10-29 17:49:52

Too bad, blockbuster died. Oh and be more respectful, not everyone has a high disposable income. Going to the movies are what? 20-ish bucks?

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Comment by Dubs
2012-04-19 17:07:47

I use the library almost exclusively for renting movies. If the library is supposed to be a beacon and storage of precious knowledge, then I couldn’t find a better place to rent classics than my local library. People who perhaps have communal internet connections or barely any at all can’t handle the streams from Netflix and whatnot; they would be the type to find the library’s collection of Welles, Bergman, Kurosawa, Fellini, etc, invaluable. Go in one week, rent your favorite films of Capra, Wilder, Lean, Hitchcock, etc. and come back the next just to find dozens of other titles welcoming you with open arms.

The particular section in this article, where you deride people like me, is laughable. You seemed to have taken the most half-baked route in empiricism and spotted one or two general types (if not the very same individuals!) of people who happen to rent movies that get on your pet peeves. Do you really think that entitles you to call lovers of cinema on a budget, or really with any sorts of restraints that make the library a salvation for cinematic knowledge, human trash?

Well, then I sincerely offer you a succinct “fuck you.”

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Comment by Jane
2013-09-18 10:39:10

Ah – another one, like me, who finds that reason fails, and there comes a time to be succinct. By the weeds in the yard, I swear that if I could but use those two precious words without getting banned, (even though those words are in the books, movies, etc., my life would be significantly happier).

The classics in my library have been thrown out in favor of the “popular.” The reference materials have been thrown out because of the internet. Yes. Some were outdated, but, in some academic circles, that translates as, historical source documents.

Space within libraries is at a premium, and, given that they are now mostly rooms for access to wifi and computers, of course the wisdom is to get rid of those nasty, space-taking books, and even the classic movie VHS tapes, that never failed, in my experience, unlike the garbage DVDs that are usually guaranteed to drive one mad because patrons use them to file their nails.

Comment by Judge Smails
2012-07-17 11:23:58

Libraries should be run like exclusive country clubs. Keep the riff-raff out.

You should also have to show some kind of identification card to prove you’re a citizen of whatever town owns the library.

Oh, and Danny Noonan should definitely be one of the 5 people kept out of the library.

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Comment by librarian
2012-11-26 19:24:54

I work in a library. I love 99.9% of our patrons. I have a great time with 99.9% of our library patrons. And then in walks the .1% in whom evil takes a human form.

My least favorite patrons: I don’t mind people who have library fines. I don’t judge people who have library fines. The people I can’t stand are the people who come in yelling, screaming, and raging at me because they have accrued a library fine. I’m sorry, it’s not my fault that you/your spouse/your kid did not return their items. When you signed up for a library card you were informed of the checkout dates and the fines for not returning your items. I did not create those parameters, but there they are and everyone is asked to adhere to them. Do not verbally abuse me or my coworkers because you have accrued fines. Do not act like 1) I am trying to swindle you out of your money, 2) I am somehow making up the amount, 3) I am personally targeting you above all other library patrons, or whatever other crazy scenario you’ve come up with in your mind.

As for everyone else — I love them. Many of the folks who come in because they are homeless are actually wonderful people when you take the time to talk to them. The moms and kids — I have such empathy for their situation being a mom myself. The perverts — I have gotten asked out a surprising number of times while working at the library. No one has been rude about, though. And it kind of flatters me if I must admit it. 🙂

I will say, working at a library is nothing like what I thought it would be.

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Comment by R
2012-11-27 12:19:01

Anyone who asks you out is a pervert?

Comment by Beas
2013-01-21 16:28:44

….and I agree with everything you wrote! I work in a library and we finally got a director who
kicks ass and threw out the abusive-crap-in-the-upholstered-furniture-bums who made our life a living library hell. It’s nicer for staff and the sane patrons, the majority of our clientele, who don’t miss being menaced by psychopaths.

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Comment by Caleb Ritchie
2013-04-29 22:51:58

Has anybody ever called you on your entitlement before?

Or will this be a first for you?

In any case, having gone to college, yours is not an innocent ignorance. Yours is evil. Shame on you.

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Comment by Jane
2013-09-18 10:42:40

As a former pain-in-the-ass patron, it’s hard to find too much fault with this piece of…satire.

Comment by Danny
2013-04-29 23:13:04

You sir are a privileged asshole. It is ridiculous how short-sighted your comments are and how blind you are to any sort of growth.

Do your local library a favor and stay out of it.

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Comment by Mike Reynolds
2013-05-01 20:36:15

You guys have a real knack for timely criticism. What are your thoughts on the Yugo?

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Comment by guesswhat
2013-08-15 08:49:02

guess what bro? I didn’t read your article. but nice constructive use of your time complaining about less than first world problems.

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Comment by guesswhat
2013-08-15 08:51:16

maybe you should spend less time writing and complaining crap and paying attention to what others are doing and try reading a book!

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