Friday, April 3, 2009

So, have you ever been evicted from the library?

I must admit I have. More than once. The first few times were when I was in 6th-7th grade. In the carefree spirit of preteens, my best friend Shannon and I used to go down the street to the Manor Branch Library to "do homework" and "research for our book reports." In all honesty, not nearly as much time was actually spent on either of these tasks as it was on staring at the heartthrob of our school, Gian Roselli. Shannon wasn't so enthralled with him and admittedly I'd never uttered a word to him and would put money on it that he didn't know of my existence, but I couldn't resist. Every time he got up from his chair I'd drag her thru the shelves of books to peek at him and see where he was going, and then run back to our table just before he came back to avoid seeming suspicious. All of this ridiculousness would eventually draw the attention of the library workers and we'd either get the loud, over-emphasised "SHHHH!" or, on those few occasions when we'd performed this little feat too many times in a row, we'd be asked to come back another day. Ahh, middle school.

However, my most recent library eviction actually came today.

I'm 30 years old. I've been happily married for almost 9 years now. I have 2 kids, one of whom is learning to read. I return books/movies on time, every time. I'm a shining example of what a library patron should look like.

And I got kicked out. Because of my son.

We went to the library today after I picked up Gennie from preschool, to get a new book for me and some kids DVDs for them to watch this weekend while we get housework done. Innocent enough, right? Yeah. I let them go over to the kids corner to play with the little toys they have set out while I hunted for my next read. I didn't find anything eye catching right away so decided I'd better go and find out if they were indeed still in the building. They were, and having a great time playing with this other little girl there. I stood watching them for a few minutes, then it occurred to me that none of us had eaten lunch yet and that we'd better get going so we could get home and eat before the inevitable melt-down began.

And that's when I made the fatal mistake. I announced, "It's time to put up the toys!" and bent down to pick Josiah up. At that moment, he let loose a tantrum like you only read about. It was a quick one, but loud. I pried the little train from his fist and jammed his binky in his mouth, gesturing to Gennie that it was time to head out. I still hadn't checked out her movies or found a book for me so we hurried over to the Mystery section. By this time Josiah was quieting down, and the screaming had all but stopped so I felt sure I could just grab something off a shelf and hope it was good. As we entered the aisle Josiah started reaching out trying to grab at the books on the shelves at his level. I told him No and pushed the books back into their places, all the while bouncing him on my hip and whispering, "shhhh". This didn't make him happy and the crying started up again but without the tantrum's fist-banging and decibel level. I handed him my library card to hold and my cell phone to play with while I was quickly scanning only the shelves at my eye level - who wants to try to balance a screaming toddler while bending down to see what treasure might be stashed on the bottom shelf? With the introduction of the library card he finally quieted down, enough so that I thought we were home free. I scanned a few more titles hoping for something promising.

Enter the Noise Nazi. She descended upon us like she'd been following us all along, just waiting for him to start up one more time before she struck. As she approached I was thinking it was one of the older librarians - in my experience age seems to rid some people, even those who had toddlers at one time, of the patience that it takes to handle crying children. But no, to my surprise it was a lady probably not even as old as me. Honest to goodness, this is what she said to me:

"Ma'am? Oh, I see he seems happier now. (smile, poke-pokeing Josiah in the tummy) That's good. But I must say that if he begins that crying again I have to ask you to take him outside. The noise really is disturbing to our patrons. (unnecessary baby talk to Josiah) But he seems happy now! That's good."

And she turned around and was halfway back down the aisle before she mumbled over her shoulder a quiet "Thank you for cooperating." She continued past the front desk and out the door.

Needless to say, I decided to forgo the hunt for a book and we crept out of the aisle and up to the desk to check out Gennie's movies. Another of the librarians came to help us and I apologized profusely for his loud display. She was so nice and said that he hadn't really disturbed anyone, especially compared to the riot that happens each week during Reading Hour in the children's corner.

Now, I just have to say that I can understand how hard it can be having to approach someone and deliver such a speech. Back in my kid-free days I worked in several jobs where I had to be the bearer of bad news. One such occurrence happened while I was a Case Worker for the Dept. of Social Services. I had to tell a man face to face that his wife (who was just recovering from major spinal surgery) would not be covered by the state medical insurance (to the tune of 100's of thousands of dollars) even though they had sold off all their possessions and liquidated all of their stocks and savings to become eligible, because they had chosen to use a small private hospital instead of one of the ones in town who accepted state aid. Yeah, wasn't the happiest day of my life, that one. That said, I understand that except for those few people in the world who delight in the rush they get from yelling at others it isn't pleasant to approach a stranger and ask them to vacate the area. But for a library system who wants patronage, especially that of young mothers who are able to bring their children to the different story times and summer programs, is it really in their best interest to ask someone to leave simply for some crying? Do they not realize that the chorus that emits from the corner every week during the story time is much more disturbing to the "patrons"? And more than that, did she not recognize the telltale signs of a frantic mom ransacking her own pockets for some treasure with which to stop the embarrassing display?

I think I'll lay low for the next few days until the heat dies down before I venture in there again. Too bad I don't have a book to read to pass the time.


The Bundy's said...

Okay, seriously?!?! Every time I've been in that place, which isn't all that often (but still), there have been like 5 people in the entire building and they are on the computers! " I'm sorry Amy your screaming child is making it hard for those playing computer games to concentrate." BOOOOOOO on that librarian!

The Washburns said...

:( I think she's a meanie!