Hell hath no fury like the woman whose child’s first and most recent library experience was marred by a crabby security guard. I keep trying to like the Independence branch of the CPL, I really do. But it’s darn hard when I have an unpleasant encounter with a staff member (usually the same security guard) about once each year. I’d complain to the higher-ups if I knew to whom I should direct my complaint. The head librarian at Independence is about 5 years younger than the folios at the Rare Books Room; I don’t think she cares.
But I just had another run-in with the security guard at Independence and I’m fed up. I stopped going to that particular branch for about 2 years after my last major encounter (in which same security guard told me that I “had” to cover my nursing baby’s head with a blanket because I was nursing him in the library. My response:”No, and it’s illegal for you to suggest that”), but slowly returned to my closest branch after racking up major fines in forgetting to return my books on time to Sulzer.
What was the problem today? I walked in to the library at 4:25 p.m. with three kids, a stroller, and a Razor scooter, the latter of which I planned to fold up and put into the stroller, but didn’t yet do so because The Boy was so excited to enter the library and get his first library card. Security guard: “You have to leave that behind the desk.” Me: “I was going to fold it up and put into the stroller.” Guard: “That’s OK for today, but you can’t have that in here.” If I folded it up and put it in the stroller before I entered the library, they’d never know it was there. Nit-picking at its finest. Next, the guard tells The Tot that he can’t be around the corner from the desk; he has to be with me. Does she not work with children? How does she not know that 2-year-olds do not necessarily stay with their mothers?!? The librarian who was helping us fill out The Boy’s library card application told us that the library was closing at 5 p.m., so we went around the corner to look at books.
We ran into The Girl’s classmate’s dad, and he tells me that the Independence branch is so much better in terms of book quality than the Austin-Irving branch. Meanwhile, The Boy and The Girl pick out books.
At 4:45 p.m., the guard comes over to tell us that the library is closing in 15 minutes and that if we want to check out books, we should do so now, and if we aren’t checking out books, we should gather our things. There are two other patrons in the library, including our acquaintance. The Girl starts to freak out that she’s going to be locked in the library, pulling on me and crying, despite the fact that it’s now only 4:47 p.m. and we have to wait for the people in front of us to finish checking out. (She gets really anxious the end of any event — movie, concert, flight, etc.) In the middle of this, The Boy leaves his books in The Tot’s stroller seat because he doesn’t want to carry them, and The Tot gets mad and tosses them out. So then the guard is chastizing him/us for that, The Girl is freaking out, and I am ready to lose it. At 4:50 p.m., we get to the checkout desk and there are no other patrons in the library. I asked the librarian calmly and nicely if she could refrain from pushing us out the door as my daughter gets very anxious about being locked in, etc. The security guard overhears me and says, rudely, “We close at 5 p.m. I do this every day.” As if I was somehow calling her experience into question; I was just asking, very nicely, for a little accommodation for a scared 4-year-old girl.
The best part of this? I walked into my house at 5:04 p.m., and we live about a 6-7 block walk from the library.