Go with a smile!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Idiot Librarian part 2

Part 1 is here

Another unpleasant encounter with library staff. Maybe I think, if it wasn’t for the books, I wouldn’t bother with that place. Maybe there’s a reason why people don’t have respect for civil servants. Maybe they’re jaded because they have to deal with the worst of humanity.

It’s the library book exchange again. I thought that I would get rid of some more of my books. I had left it late. This time last year I had just taken my subject test GREs – what I then knew was a trial run. This year I would actually be deciding on my options.

Anyway the build up to this encounter wasn’t exactly pleasant. I realized that the book exchange was on Saturday, I had done nothing for 2 weeks because it was the climax of the academic term, where people are taking tests all the time and rushing after projects. Then there was this stupid feature in Microsoft Visual C which always produced a bug unless you told the compiler exactly which library to link to. It was common enough that I found 5 other people putting up that exact problem and exact solution while searching the internet. (Nat if you’re reading this thanks for yr help)

Then, a rush home to make sure that I could find 30+ books to clear out and dash out to the library. Things went wrong all the time. Books went missing everywhere. I told the maid to summon the lift for me, and she missed it by a couple of seconds. (Yes, I know I’m dangerously close to a re-enactment of a very famous photograph). Then I looked everywhere for the van and found it in the not often used parking lot. Then I got my maid to load up the van, and was about to drive off when some beeping told me that the door wasn’t closed properly. I drove over to the nearest library when my way got blocked by a car turning into a police compound. (This was an important factor in my decision not to blast a 10 second horn and swear loudly at him). Then I found myself at a carpark with 20 minutes to go. I dragged the luggage, finding that it was not very ergonomic. The walk to the library was around 100m.

So the point is – I reached the library in a foul mood. Later on, the librarian said that she was going to inspect the books for quality. She threw back 10 of my books. 1 or 2 of those books, I wasn’t going to argue with her about the quality. But I was quite irritated at how she flipped through most of the pages (later on I realized that she was looking for underlinings, so that made sense, but at first I was pissed off that she was being fussy). Then I grew really hot under the collar when she threw out some books that were perfectly good, never been read before, in pristine condition, for no other reason than that the pages were yellow. Naturally I wasn’t going to take that lying down. I said, what does it matter, you’re not paying me a cent for all those books anyway. She said, we don’t want to be throwing out too many books when people don’t want them. That sounded OK for now. But I argued about the books’ condition, and I got her to take back 4 of the better books.

Then she told something to another librarian and walked off. The other librarian wrote out an order to me for 26 books. I knew that the 26 books didn’t include 1 of the books I just got her to accept, so I said it was 27. The second librarian said, she told me 26. Do you want to wait for her to come back? I said no, after all it’s only 1 book. So I signed and took it.

But I got back home, counted the books that were rejected and realized that I had given away 31 books. I was shortchanged by 4. Now, you remember, this was the same people telling me that they didn’t want to throw out too many books, and on the other hand they’re now practically guaranteeing that 5 books will be thrown away. I didn’t know what to call this. I don’t think she should be handed over to the police but I would call this theft. I’m sure she wanted to make sure that I got fewer coupons than I gave books.

Well there're always ways to resolve the situation. You know how civil servants hate complaints. So I used the feedback thing on the NLB website. And I added some little note about how I loved going to the library for years - until now. Heh heh.

Anyway I did the wise thing - went for the book exchange early in the morning and got some remarkable books. An account of Teo Soh Lung's stay in the air con room, Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine", "Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid", "The Logic of Life". I only regret that I didn't pick up Galbraith's "Affluent Society". In a book exchange, a large number of books will not be picked up. That's only to be expected. After all I am giving them a pile of books that, even though I would have picked them up myself, I wasn't able to sell them.


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