We've officially had our first complete patron freak-out about the new library cards. I only wish I had been there to witness it first hand.
Let's call the superfreak patron in question Rick James, just to establish a theme and for no better reason than I happened to see the real Rick James on a rerun of the Surreal Life
a few nights ago. Our Rick James is a guy about my age who, being the
wrong race to begin with, of course looks nothing like the real Rick
James. In fact, he looks kind of up-tight most of the time. As far as
his patronage goes, he's actually only an intermittent patron at best,
coming in only once or twice a month, sometimes skipping several months
on a stretch. Even with infrequent visits, though, Rick James has
skirted the edges of Rogue status on a couple of occasions in the past.
instance, Rick James is a big fan of our books on tape. In fact, I
don't think I've ever seen him check out an actual, honest-to-God book
from us before. So, one time Rick James checked out one of our books on
tape and managed to break one of the tapes. Mind you, this would have
been okay with us, as we know that the tapes do break due to the
constant wear and tear. We wouldn't have even made him pay for it.
However, Rick James not only broke the tape but then tried to repair it
on his own. I don't know how exactly he did this, but images of glue and
nails come into my head whenever I think about it. In the end, he
failed miserably at the repair job, screwed the tape up even more than
it had been, then returned it to us. He explained what he'd done and
suggested we could probably do a better repair job than he did. I wanted
to say, "So could most paraplegic rhesus monkeys," but refrained from
Now, that's certainly annoying. However,
Rick's actual claim to fame is his utter refusal to check anything out
on his own card. Ever. It's not that he's even a Seefile or anything--he just refuses to use his own card.
the first several occasions that I had to deal with him, I would ask
his name so I could look up his record, as per our old VTLS system and
library policy. Rick James would just shake his head at me and tell me
to put it on the card of his girlfriend. Rick's girlfriend, Gladys
Knight, used to come in with him fairly often and they always checked
their items out on her card then too. I figured it was therefore an
authorized move and began putting his books on her card when he was in
solo; and it was cool with her. Sure, it was odd, but we didn't care if
he used her card so long as she was okay with it. And Rick James was far
from the only person to exclusively use someone else's card. Several
male patrons used to use their wife's card, which we just chalked up to
laziness on their part. With Rick there turned out to be another reason.
the past several months, Rick and Gladys have seriously cut back on
their visits. If I'd thought much about them, I might have assumed
they'd moved, but I don't so I didn't. Rick just suddenly popped up
again a couple months back, causing me to think, "Oh, yeah, the
book-on-tape-won't-use-his-own-card guy. I remember him." And, of
course, Rick also returned to checking out more books on tape to
Gladys's patron record.
Neither Rick nor Gladys have
been in for the past four weeks since we upgraded to our new circulation
software system, however. That is until last week when both of them
(Again, I only WISH I had been there, so most of the following dialogue is paraphrased from second hand information.)
bringing their book on tape selections to the circ desk, Miss E told
Gladys that she would need one of our new library cards before she could
check out. No prob for Gladys Knight--she's easy-going. She even had
her old card with her, proving she's a responsible patron. Miss E then
asked Rick if he needed one too.
"No, I'll just use hers," Rick James said.
Sorry, but no. We no longer allow patrons to share cards like that. You'll need one of your very own.
James grumbled and griped at this, but went over and started filling
out a new card application all the same. It didn't take him long to find
something to whine about.
"Hey, why do you need my driver's license number? Do I have to give that?"
Yes, you do.
All of our patrons have to have a unique ID number so we chose a driver's license number since most people have them.
Because we need to be able to tell patrons with the same name apart.
Naturally, Rick didn't like that one little bit.
is just the government!" he said. "The government is trying to get this
information and keep tabs on what we're reading. Your new system
probably keeps a record of everything we read!"
first off, the government ALREADY HAS everyone's driver's license
information. After all, drivers licenses are issued by THE GOVERNMENT in
the first place. Secondly, our system does NOT
keep records of everything our patrons have read. Some patrons wish
that it did, because they can't manage to keep track of what they've
read by themselves and wish we could tell them so they didn't keep
checking out the same Patty Cornhole book. But, no, we don't keep
patron book records. Even with the new circulation system, we only have
the ability to see who the last patron to check out any given book was,
and this is for purposes of tracking down patrons who might have allowed
their dog to have a bite of a book should we wish them to pay for it. It's
hardly a grand scheme of the Homeland Security Conspiracy, but there was
no telling this to Rick James.
About this time, Mrs. C stood up from her computer where she'd been listening to Rick James's ranting.
"It's not the government," she told him. "We have nothing to do with the
government." (Well, outside of a miniscule amount of funding.) "And we
don't store records of what patrons read."
Mrs. C then
explained that the drivers license number was necessary to differentiate
Rick James from any other Rick Jameses who might be patrons of one of
the libraries in the surrounding consortium counties, (or indeed the real Rick James). We're in essence trying to protect our patrons from
having other people with the same name check things out on their card,
saddling them with the bill if the items aren't returned.
tried to grumble some more about this but relented after Gladys told
him it made perfect sense to her. He finally put his license number down
and turned in his application to Miss E.
As she was typing it in, Miss E noted that Rick's listed address was a post office box.
Sorry, if your mailing address is a post office box, we'll need a physical address as well.
This is what ignited the powder keg.
"You need a physical address?!! You need a physical address?!! Why would you need a physical address?!!" Rick was really starting to shout, getting far more angry than necessary.
C stepped in again and tried to explain that people change post office
boxes and telephone numbers all the time and we really have to have a
backup method of contacting patrons when we need to.
why would you need a physical address?!!" Rick continued to shout,
ignoring everything she had just said. It was like his brain was stuck
in a loop and just kept repeating, Why would you need a physical address? Why would you need a physical address? over and over, drowning out all explanation to the contrary.
a new voice entered the fray. Our head librarian, Mrs. A had come
downstairs just before Rick's tantrum began, had witnessed it and now
she was having no more of it.
"Now look here!" Mrs. A said. Rick immediately stopped grousing and looked here.
Mrs. A marched up to him and said, "The reason we need your physical
address is so we'll know where to send the sheriff when you don't bring
our books back!"
I love Mrs. A.
didn't have much of a defense for that, but he still had a fallback
position: "But why do you need a driver's license number?!"
we don't want anyone getting more than one library card in our system.
And if we require a unique ID number like a drivers license we can stop
people from getting multiple cards."
Let me explain," Mrs. A said. "Before we put this system into place,
there was a patron in another county who got five different library
cards from five different libraries with five fake home addresses. She
then checked out ALL the arts and crafts books from those libraries and
has now disappeared with them. Thousands of dollars worth of books are
gone because we didn't require proof of ID to get a library card. Now
that we require the drivers license number, if we try to make a new
patron record and type that license number in, any existing records with
that number will pop up automatically and we won't issue the patron
"But why do you need a physical address?"
Yes, indeedy, Rick had waited through all that just to default to But why do you need a physical address? once again. There was just no talking to him.
Knight went ahead and accepted her new library card, but Rick James
refused to supply the necessary information for his and left saying he'd
do it some other time. Our guess is he'll try to go to another area
library and see if he can sneak past security measures there. He's not
the only one. We've already discovered another guy who has already
managed to get two cards at other area libraries by telling them that he
has no driver's license or state ID. He also supplies them with faulty
contact information, which is why it's important for libraries to follow
policy and demand to see some form of identification, if only a current
bill and a photo-id. We've now got a "liberry" APB out on that guy and
have just added Rick James to the watch list as well.
Rick James situation, however, does put me in mind of another patron
and former almost-rogue who, coincidentally enough, I was already in the
process of composing an entry for....