Friday, November 6, 2009

An open letter to the librarian who put the local mothers in the naughty corner today.

I know that often I appear as though I have been dragged through a hedge backwards. I agree that my one-year-old son has developed something of an obsession with the Harlequin romance rack, and I apologise if you have found ‘Italian Housekeeper, Billionaire Boss’ filed away under Healthy Living. I’m equally sorry for the time my 3-year old sat in a chair next to your children’s librarian while she read, holding a different book under her nose and repeating ‘Not that one. Read this one. Not that one. Read this one.’ Obviously I should have stopped her earlier but I really, really had to nip out to the coffee cart.

I did not give you my pompous look of death (pow!) some weeks ago when you handed my friends and I pamphlets entitled ‘Appropriate Behaviour in The Library for Parents and Children.’

But when you stopped Story Time today to deliver a lecture to the gathered crowd of parents, I felt you had gone just too far. I’d like to take this opportunity to let you know what I would have said had I a) been quick off the mark; b) had the balls or c) didn’t really, really just have to nip out to the coffee cart.

I’d like to address your concerns, one by one.

I cannot hear the librarian read! You are causing a disturbance!

Um, no. It’s possible you’ve spent too long in a bubble where whispering is the norm and a little heated bitching about people writing in margins is as hot as it gets. Four women discussing breastfeeding and nit shampoo is not Girls Gone Wild.

Story Time is not an entertainment service for your children.

Yes! Yes it is! We spend all day with these small people. When you sit on a chair and read them a book, you release us from our duty of care so we can stand up the back and converse with big humans. For many of us, this is the only clear back-forth pattern of information exchange we will enjoy all day, as opposed to a surreal series of words strung together and featuring The Wiggles. Is it entertaining? That’s up for debate. (Shazam!)

Story Time is a professional literary program!

All respect, lady, but singing ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ and then reading a couple of Mem Fox tales doesn’t make you pre-school Harvard. Actually it’s nothing that the parents in your audience aren’t doing four times a day anyway, with funny voices, while simultaneously making dinner, folding washing and listening to a program on Radio National about sun bears, or the financial crisis, or vegetable uprisings – or, well, they can’t really hear the radio. That’s not the point. This is the point: get over yourself. And get the carrot out of your bum. Use some more of my taxes if it needs surgery.

Thank you.

11 comments:

  1. That's so screwed up. I have a long-standing love affair with my library, it's so kid friendly, it's not funny. Rubes crawls around while I am browsing, pulls books out of the shelf in bundles, opens random books on java for idiots and loudly pretends to babble-read to all who can hear her. Which is in fact the whole library. The librarians just grin at her and know that I will tidy up after her and intervene if page tearing is imminent. How are they encouraging kids to love books, if it has to be so STRUCTURED, REGIMENTED and NOT FUN. I'd be the one shoving the carrot in the snippy lady, rather than removing it. That woman goes home and sits on her plastic protected covered furniture, drinks her tea with a saucer IN HER LONELy UNIT BY HERSELF.

    Anyway.

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  2. Yowser - that is out of line. I took Chet to work recently for a lunch and it is not a library that is geared towards children at all. He pulled leaflets out all over the place, crawled around shrieking at the top of his voice and generally made his presence known. All was of course fine. Hmm, perhaps that librarian needs a field trip to some other libraries like the State Library where we used to have a client who would walk through swearing everyday and was obsessed with a business reference book that he would ask for by name and was filthy because he handled it everyday. Or she might like to visit the Family Planning Library and become conversant with the subject matter there - I doubt then that she would be concerned about adults having adult conversations while their children are, yes, entertained. It is people like that that give librarians a bad name.

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  4. I was once sacked from my job as a library shelver for not telling people to be quiet in the library. My ssssh and cats arse face wasn't as good as it should have been.

    I go to the same library every week with my very loud kids and each and every time the woman who sacked me asks us to be quiet, I nosily ask to speak with the manager and I nosily complain. Petty, but satisfying.

    Story time absolutely is for entertainment. Parents are supposed to sit back and watch the mayhem with that frazzled "you should see what my house looks like" smile plastered on their face. I think you did well not to stage a mutiny.

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  5. I was once sacked from my job as a library shelver for not telling people to be quiet in the library. My ssssh and cats arse face wasn't as good as it should have been.

    I go to the same library every week with my very loud kids and each and every time the woman who sacked me asks us to be quiet, I nosily ask to speak with the manager and I nosily complain. Petty, but satisfying.

    Story time absolutely is for entertainment. Parents are supposed to sit back and watch the mayhem with that frazzled "you should see what my house looks like" smile plastered on their face. I think you did well not to stage a mutiny.

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  6. Hear, hear! Precisely the sort of reasons library story time came to an abrupt end around here. Or would have if the builders didn't move in to renovate with a share of stimulus package.

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  7. Thanks, fellas. I don't feel so alone in my naughty corner. And perhaps I wouldn't be so hioty about Evil Librarian if I didn't have first-hand experience of Melissa, librarian supreme. I am a bit scared to go back next week though.

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  8. Bide your time quietly until she mispronounces something, then correct her and let her know how entertaining it was.

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  9. You there in the naughty corner: you're my hero.

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  10. Next week lets all get our husbands to take the day off work - and send them into story time to sit in front of the librarian (no kids with them) & stare gratuitously at the librarians well clothed cleavage whilst she nervously reads Thomas the tank engine to her attentive audience.

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Thanks for talking to me. I don't got cooties. Oh, except for when I got cooties.