Odd things in the Library

My love/hate relationship with the public Library continues. By necessity really; I have to keep going back there to return my books, and what? I’m supposed to leave there empty-handed? Still though, the Library can be an odd place. Let’s take last night for instance.

Last night, while my son and I sat in the not-quite-a-café in the foyer across from the security desk I couldn’t help but notice them getting agitated. A few minutes later the head security guard walks by, wearing heavy duty disposable plastic gloves, carrying a large plastic bag at arms length. He’s making his way towards the exit at a sort of “I’d like to look calm, I hope I look calm” pace. What was in the bag? I never found out. But the junior security guard followed behind and I heard him remark to another colleague, “Well, we’ve never seen that before.”

The kid’s section was completely empty last night, except for one guy. A grown man, maybe fifty. He was sitting at one of the kid’s sized study tables right in the middle of the the section, reading out loud from an over-sized children’s Bible. And I need to emphasize he was reading as loud as he could possibly read. Like he was reading a sermon in a church. Earlier, he walked by and grumbled menacingly and frankly, just plain weirdly, at my son and I.

Lastly there’s me. Sometimes my reading interests strike me as odd. Am I the only person out there checking out The Selected Poems of Herman Melville alongside Seth Godin’s famous marketing book Unleashing the Ideavirus? Does that set off alarms somewhere in the bowels of the Culture League HQ? Alert! Alert! A reader with conflicted reading tastes—good God, he reads marketing books!—is leaving the downtown library! Send out the dogs! Save Melville!

Maybe not. But I’d actually kind of like to go to the Culture League HQ. I bet they have a cool library.

7 responses to “Odd things in the Library”

  1. This really sounds like a story from The Twilight Zone…
    The thing that doesn’t leave my mind is: what was in THAT bag?
    And you were not even curious enough to ask!

  2. “Does that set off alarms somewhere in the bowels of the Culture League HQ?”

    You know, I’ve actually wondered about this, about who keeps track of library records. Awhile back I kept a list of every book I checked out for about a year and a half. When I went back and reviewed it, the list was so schizophrenic that I was sure I had to be on the government’s watch list for potential madmen.

  3. Most libraries have policies that nobody should keep track. The databases are often designed to simply erase records of what’s been taken out, once you’ve returned it. Librarians tend to take a dim view of censorship or government monitoring of what you’re reading. That’s not to say that the government doesn’t secretly do it anyways, but it’s a verboten idea to most library folks.

  4. I imagine that the members get to wear capes.

  5. I’d like the Caped Culture League (are we talking capes and monocles or superhero capes?) to find out what was in that bag. And, clearly, they have our library records (although Elliot does know his Library business so maybe you should listen to him instead of me).

  6. …Although, I do suspect that the U.S. Government does keep track of this stuff. Luckily, I’m Canadian. Our government is so thoroughly occupied with selling beaver pelts to Europe and laying track for steam engines that they can’t be bothered to inspect Library databases.

  7. Actually, Ian is right. The US gov’t DOES want to have access to library patron records as part of the misnamed Patriot Act. So far, librarians have refused to cooperate. I even did a post about it last year on Not Mayberry.

    You lucky Canadians. Well, when global warming eats up most of our coastline, and moves the wheat belt several hundred miles north, we are all going to pack up and come your way. (Or we could just reinstitute the draft).

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