Sunday, May 16, 2010

Horror No. 34: Clowns.

Motherfucking clowns, man. Why'd it have to be clowns?

Get out your red rubber noses and magic handkerchiefs. The circus is coming to town, and the clowns have taken over the library….

Friday, February 26, 2010

Horror No. 24: Change

This is one of the worst things that can ever happen, anywhere. No one likes change. No one likes when the quiet library gets noisy and they don't like when the noisy jungle gets quiet.

Change is a symptom is discontent. Either the universe is dissatisfied with existence, or God is pissed off; either way, changing times means this game of musical chairs is going to leave someone without a seat at life's table.

Some changes are actually good, once we adjust. But there is never any guarantee that change won't kill us all. Climate change on the planet is not good for humans. And climate change in the library means I need to find a safe place to keep my shawl.

Sometime there are small changes we can appreciate, like fresh flowers on the information desk. Or fresh toner in the copier. Or a spritz of air freshener in the restrooms. These are good changes, but they are few.

So the message to libraries is, don't change. We love you the way you are now. If now were 1949.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Horror No. 11: Self-righteous Assholes

So I see this today, "A citizen of the Fond du Lac School District has added more books to a list she wants banned from the schools."

Not only does someone want some book removed from the school, but now she has a list.

I can only say, "Be Wary of Individuals Carrying Lists." On a small scale, not having a list means that when I go grocery shopping, I will buy whatever the hell I feel like eating at that moment. Which means pizza and beer. And that keeps me happy. But a list means I have to look for things on the list and keep wandering until the cart is filled with all of the items from the list. Where the hell do they keep the pimentos??? Joe McCarthy had a list. Moses had a list. The Terminator had a list.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Horror No. 800: Embezzlement

I've seen a few stories this year (2009-2010) about librarians stealing from their libraries. Either they use misuse charge accounts or are charged with misappropriation of funds (what the hell does that mean, anyway? it doesn't explicitly mean stealing, just misusing money you were trusted to spend properly,... but I guess most people spend it on themselves.)

The reason why this clocks in at No. 800 is that every public servant hopes to one day be placed in a position whereby we might steal vast sums of money. Not that we would, but it's pleasant to fantasize about embezzling millions when they're often just a signature away.

At the library, I fantasize about stealing paper clips. I string them together into long chains so when the day comes when I am at my moral weakest, I can grab the whole mess of them and be out the door. Whenever someone asks to borrow a paper clip, I slowly, resentfully, pull the end of the chain from my drawer and remove one paper clip, knowing that this supply redistribution is pushing my dream, and my retirement, farther and farther away.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Horror No. 3: Sex Offenders

I don't even know what to say about this one. I put at Horror No. 3, but just the nature of it should put it higher. I'm keeping it at No. 3 because it didn't happen in the library.
"Sex abuse charges against Alabama A&M University's dean of library services will be dropped..."

"Clarence Toomer, 57, of 2504 Little Cove Road, was indicted in late 2008 for second-degree sexual abuse, court records show. That is defined as sex with someone between the ages of 12 and 16 or someone unable to give consent."
Okay, here is librarian, and not just a librarian, but the dean of library services at a state university, having sex with a child. I can't even calculate how offensive that reads.

The only thing that keeps this from being truly vile is that I might imagine that he had sex with a 16-year-old prostitute who told him he or she was 18. And this is still offensive, but I've seen enough Lifetime movies that I'm desensitized toward the plight of teens who turn to prostitution.

Or, and this is a stretch, if he had sex with "someone unable to give consent," maybe he had sex with a zombie.

The fact that the State of Alabama won't prosecute Toomer if he completes some sex offender treatment program leads me to believe that it was a hooker. And how often have we seen men of power (in this case, a dean) get caught with prostitutes and not be punished? If the Lifetime for Women channel is any indicator, every day at 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Horror No. 50: Theft.

Libraries know theft. On both ends.

People love to steal from libraries. Maybe it's because we don't do anything to stop them. If we take any security measures at all, it's usually a five cent fine per day for an overdue fee. And who doesn't feel justified in stealing library books under those draconian conditions?

And on the other side, public libraries are often supported by taxes, and taxation for all good, free people is basically theft by the government. And there is nothing you can do about it, sez I, Ha! Ha!

Recently, I have seen stories about teams of criminals who steal from the librarians by having one member distract the librarian while the other goes through her desk or office or purse. But this recent story has someone stealing a painting from a law library in Scotland:
"'The painting was down in the basement by the toilets, but anyone going down there would have had to have had a ticket.'"
So the valuable watercolor (wait, watercolour) ‘I Cannae Hear Ye’ by artist, Tom Scott was taken from the basement by the toilets. Remember, this was a valuable painting. What do they keep in the main library lobby? Priceless sculptures?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Horror No. 4: Kiddy Porn.

Here it is, Man Arrested for Looking at Child Porn at UNO Library. And I just started this blog yesterday with the intention of documenting all the horrible things that can happen in your library.

The goal here is just to document news stories as I find them. I was fully expecting to have Regular Porn (Horror No. 18) or Murder (Horror No. 6) appear first before we got to Child Pornography.

Librarians understand that Child Pornography will always be a problem at libraries. As long as we allow Internet access, we allow the Child Porn to flow freely into our lives. I'm not sure if librarians thought about this back in the early 1990s when the first graphical browsers were created. All I remember thinking was how damn long it took for an image to load through my work computer that I loathed visiting any site with more than one 22 kb picture on it.

For every librarian who tries to block Child Porn from the library, you will find twenty others who will fight for Free Speech. The only way libraries will get rid of the child porn is when the Internet Providers decide to block it. And since most of those are public companies, why don't their shareholders demand that it's blocked?

And it doesn't matter how abhorrent the crime, there will always be defenders who will find some comparison with something rational that will make your feelings appear irrational:
"You know who else feels that way? George Bush."
Which one, the father or the son?
"Does it really matter?"
There is always another argument down the road you need to win.

"If you're going to execute Child Molesters (Library Horror No. 1), then how soon until you descend that slippery-slope toward executing Cat Owners (Library Horror No. 45, and not to be confused with Library Cats, Horror No. 21)?"

And that's what's absurd. We have no plans to execute cat owners. Not today, anyway. I have 44 other horrors to deal with first.

That's why there are crimes where you just need to act. Society needs to move to a point where when you call 911 on some guy who molested a child, the operator just says, "Okay, I'll dispatch a car in about 20 minutes. Whatever happens to the perp between now and then will not be investigated by the officers. Don't make me spell it out. Just be creative."

And don't ask why Kiddy Porn is only Horror No. 4. Since I anticipate more stories this year about child molestation in libraries, I decided to leave a few gaps at the top.

And why is Murder only No. 6? Dunno. Sure, Murder is horrible, but we've become so desensitized toward violence that the "coolness" factor of seeing a real live murder victim outweighs the "ick" factor. And I'm assuming that the victim deserved it, like in a gang turf war, or something. The murder of an innocent person is not cool at all.

So you should understand that the numbering system is entirely subjective and should not dissuade you from converting the Horrors into a family fun board game like BINGO.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Horror No. 36: Pee-pee

It's not uncommon to find urine soaked pages in library books. Since we all read in the bathroom and we understand that accidents happen. And for some authors, "onpurposes" happen.

Our library has damage report slips where we can enter the type and cause of the damage. Under "Bodily Excretions" (too numerous to mention here, but we learn about them later), the form has check boxes for: Accident; Accidentally On Purpose; On Purpose; Fox News said to do it.

In Clute, TX, thugs have been peeing on the library books:
"When something like that happens to a book, you have to withdraw it," said Lisa Loranc with the Brazoria County Libraries. "There's no other option."

No one has been able to say for sure who is responsible and if any of the
incidents are connected, but they also note that there is an intermediate school
just a block away.

So, of all the possible horrors that can happen in the library, pee-pee turns in as number 36. Of a total number of how many, I don't know. And what is library horror number one? I don't know yet, but I'm sure I'll recognize it when I see it.