Yeah, hi. I don’t know what I’m doing with the library these days, or what it’s doing with me.
I keep telling you the Library Board is made up of pikers, seatfillers, pols, and lobbyists as far as the eye can see. Now we know its chair is willing to lie about driving drunk, albeit below the legal limit.
All of these are the same people who:
Engineered a library strike, then sent the savings from that strike back to the city.
Then got the library’s budget cut.
Set up an advertising program one of whose first users was an ambulance-chasing personal-injury law firm (which refused to comment on that designation).
Started dinging people a buck for holds and for overdue DVDs, with the result that people are afraid to place holds and circulation is actually down for the first time in living memory.
Should we also discuss the fact that it is now materially impossible for the public to comment in person or in writing on any issue before the Board at an immediately upcoming meeting? (This is the same Board that can and will refuse a written request to address it. How do I know? I’m the one they refused, after sitting around looking baffled at the request in the first place.)
I still am waging this perverse cold war (I wouldn’t capitalize it) with Collections Development. That department and other petites fonctionnaires continue to swoop in and turn the screws on frontline staff who make the capital error of trying to help me. There is now an entire list of such staff harassed and countermanded by middle management – here as elsewhere, the most picayune yet power-mad stratum.
I can only imagine how incensed CDD must be when we (not I – we) return rejected blue forms with an attached statement that, in effect, the reason for rejection was bullshit. This is the department that buys the TV series Gavin & Stacey, whatever that is, but deems Friday Night Lights and Southland inadmissible under criteria that actually aren’t published.
Levels of fuck-you in blue forms:
1 TRL reference-only
1 TRL, 1 NYCL
Honourable mention: 1 TRL, 1 your branch
I was going to save this up till I actually had them in hand, but what the hell. There are two saving graces in this ongoing blue-form Kafka manqué.
After submitting about eight pages of documentation, including proof of availability from the label (only I have to provide that) and an all-important career résumé on MetaFilter, the library is buying three of the pile of new reissues of classic and only slightly dated albums by Jimmy Somerville and friends: Age of Consent, Read My Lips, and a best-of.
The library is buying not enough copies of a collection of dance films by DV8 Physical Theatre. Think you know modern dance? Wait till you meet Lloyd Newson.
Did you know they’re tagging the entire visible collection of the Reference Library in preparation for TPL’s new plan to facilitate wholesale theft of that branch’s irreplaceable items? You’d be surprised who inside the organization thinks this is the stupidest idea ever, in no small part because it is. You’d be even more surprised to learn that apparently the entirety of TPL management save one does not know what staff-only RFID checkout is despite its being in use in a dozen branches. That obviously means they do not know that staff-only is the correct configuration for the TRL Browsery.
Why don’t I take a break?
The last time I did that I missed the deadline to apply to become a boardmember. Now, we know that the lying – and now drug‑ and murder-implicated – executive administration would have smothered the thing in its cradle like a Somali crack baby, but I’m not making the same mistake twice.
In the back of my mind is always the following question: Will this be the week the library serves me with a notice that I am banned from its premises? While that would be the nuclear option, it is the only step they haven’t taken and I don’t put it past them. You wouldn’t believe the shit these graspers have tried to pull behind the scenes.
Want to go out for a soyaccino sometime? You’re buying.
Here is the oversized-holds cart at Yorkville – necessary because the wall shelves are too short, but having the side effect of exposing interesting books to whomever passes by. I always take a look.
One day I saw a children’s book and could not quite understand the cover. I looked at the barcode:
J UKR. A Ukrainian children’s book. (Cyrillic cursive is pretty hard to read even for someone like me who can painstakingly sound out roman type. It’s a piece of cake for native readers, obviously.)
Anyway. First of all, I didn’t know the library had Ukrainian children’s books. (French, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese – sure.) So they exist. But not at Yorkville. Somebody put a hold on it. And that somebody is going to be a very interesting patron.
Who is she? What’s her background? Against all odds, is she teaching her kids Ukrainian? (The ancestral language must be preserved at any cost!) Isn’t she interesting, I repeat?
But because of RFID self-checkout, Yorkville staff will never meet her, never get to know her, have no inkling of what could be a new set of customers with unique needs.
This Ukrainian-speaking mom – I am aware of the assumptions I’m using here, thanks – becomes a cog in a machine: Search for book via computer, place hold via computer, enter branch and bypass every human being to check out book by computer.
This Ukrainian-speaking child is not a computer, nor is the mother. Because of a decision to turn every item in the Toronto Public Library into a miniature radio transmitter (even Ukrainian children’s books) and download labour to library users, staff will never get to know either of them.
(and – though no longer on the official registry – registered lobbyist) Mike Foderick: “The Toronto Public Library is in the stone age, in my opinion, when it comes to RFID.”
Here, then, are glories to come at the new Brentwood branch.
Directly across from the registration desk is the express self-check-out area, designed for ultimate flexibility and to keep you from having to wait in line for the simple transactions surrounding book check-outs. While located so that staff can help if necessary, it is the ultimate in customer convenience. It is so easy, in fact, that you can teach your children to be independent library users!
Indeed. You can teach them that the public sector in the 21st century is built on child labour. Adults will be there if and only “if necessary.” (Sort of like dads.)
Mind that alarm sounding on the way in, kiddo. Do you need the booster?