Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Miss Information is annoyed by logic

What the hell is wrong with people? Libraries are pretty simple. You borrow stuff, you return stuff. If you return it on time, it’s free. If you return it late, there’s a penalty. This concept is elegant in its simplicity. And yet…

Today Miss Information encountered a patron who doesn’t get it. A woman came to the desk with an overdue paperback. She shouldn’t have to pay the fine though. Hm…why’s that exactly? Well, she declared triumphantly that she had mistakenly believed that the book had been returned earlier. When she noticed it was still on her record, she explained this to the library and they changed the status to “reported returned”. Then she found the book at home and brought it back. So, you see, she doesn’t owe the library anything. Miss Information has a slightly different understanding of library policy. The book was due earlier, yes? The woman agreed. And in the woman’s house the entire time? But of course. The woman repeated her “reported returned” story. It is a good story for sure, but it still kind of means that even though the book was believed to have been returned, it was in fact NOT RETURNED, in other words—the book is OVERDUE.

Miss Information refused to waive the fine. This is the second time she has had this stupid conversation recently and she’s tired of it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas argument season

It will come as no surprise that Miss Information finds the holiday season annoying. It is worse this year because she has spent the pre-Christmas weeks writing a jolly, festive essay about utilitarianism.

Bah humbug.

Yesterday a woman came in to the library. She was not happy. Join the club, lady. Try spending the holiday season with Jeremy Bentham. She wanted to take one of the seven day loan books. It was due, unsurprisingly in seven days. The woman was not having any of this. Surely it should be due in eight days on December 29. The library wouldn’t be open after all on December 28, so how could the book be due? December 28 is a holiday, you know. Except it isn’t. The library is open as usual on December 28. The woman argued. Of course the library isn’t open. December 28 is a holiday—a statutory holiday. Banks aren’t open. Beer stores aren't open. Nothing is open. Except the library. Miss Information promises. The library is open. So, really, you know, people should pop in, visit, return their seven day loan books, surf for porn and argue with Miss Information.

Not this woman. She wasn't coming to the library because it’s a damn holiday and nothing is open.

The library. The library is open. Miss Information swears the library is going to be open. She will be here at the desk, spending the day arguing with people about whether or not the library is open. So just a normal day then.

Miss Information can’t help but wonder whether these sorts of conversations are helping her achieve the good life that JS Mill wants her to have. He would really be disappointed in her.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Miss Information is filled with holiday annoyances

Miss Information is struck by the differences between library branches. In her last branch, some of the staff members were Christian, some were Muslim, some were Hindi, some were “other”, and some were just conscientious objectors. Whatever. When it came to festivities, everyone pulled together. Sometime in November, trees were decorated and boughs of holly appeared everywhere. Every department became sparklier.

The new branch in the nice neighbourhood is less multicultural. Though there’s a substantial Jewish population, the neighbourhood is mostly Christian. Miss Information has never met a group of people less interested in decking halls. Last week, she arrived at work to find a Christmas tree near the reference desk. The decorations were in boxes in the work area. She waited to see the decorations on the tree. She’s still waiting. The tree remains naked. Very minimalist. Not too festive.

Miss Information pretty much understands the new branch staff. She just bets that someone was told to get the tree and the decorations out of storage, so they did. No one was assigned to decorate the tree, so they didn’t.

Ho, ho, hum.

It’s been distracting Miss Information so much, she almost missed a very entertaining customer, who claims that another library has been poisoning his coffee. Miss Information is impressed by the initiative of this other branch. She just bets they’ve decorated the hell out of their tree.