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All These Books And They Still Can’t Spell “Respect”

, , , | Working | July 19, 2021

At a time when libraries still used actual film projectors and reels to show films, the large central library in my city had but three projectors. One was in the children’s area and that was sacrosanct. The other two were the responsibility of the reference department.

We had, have, and will likely always have a governing board made up of the most entitled humans on the planet. As far as they are concerned, we are their personal slaves (and they have been heard to say that untrained chimps could do the job of a professional librarian) and everything in the library exists for their personal use. Their library fines are always wiped clean, books are set aside for them for months, and… they get to use the projectors, and too bad if they are needed for a program.

At the time of this story, our head librarian was an arrogant nit who believed the library existed to pay her for telling any and everyone that they could do some previously taboo action.

Take out movies without checking them out? Sure. Forcing a librarian to type up a report for a board member’s child? Great idea. Have a librarian accompany a young, strong, able-bodied board member through the stacks and act as both sherpa and llama? Excellent.

And, of course, loan out the projectors and forget to mention who has them.

We had several back-to-back programs that required a film projector. The second projector was missing. And it remained missing for months on end. NO ONE, including the director, knew where the projector was. Meanwhile, we were pushing the malfunctioning first projector back and forth between programs and sometimes during programs.

One afternoon, here comes a board member, carrying his briefcase and the second projector.

Board Member: “Hi, I told [Library Director] I was taking this out and explained why it’s a little late. So I am bringing it back today.”

Colleague: “When did you take it out?”

Board Member: “Oh, it was just a couple of days ago.”

He gives a date two months ago. My colleague stares blankly and sighs.

Colleague: “Okay.”

Board Member: *Now cranky* “Well, [Library Director] said! She said I could have it for a program on [date two months ago]. I didn’t have it that long!”

[Colleague] noted to all and sundry that the projector that was lost had returned to us… and let everyone know what constituted a “couple of days” in the Board Members’ lexicon. Sure, it was petty, but it allowed the rest of us to know that we weren’t completely crazy thinking that the Board had very little respect for us or for the patrons.

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