On the first of November, our library patrons will have the option of receiving automatic notices—about available reserves and overdue notices—via text instead of e-mail or phone.
Our e-mails go out at 6am, so the question was whether the issuing of text messages could be adjusted to a more reasonable time.
It can . . . which made me wonder about the possibilities—and the subjective definition of reasonable:
“This is the Public Library. How may I help you?”
“You people texted me at two-thirty this morning!”
“I see. May I have your library card number please? Thank you. Ah, yes, sir. You appear to have several books that are months overdue. I’m afraid we’ll be calling you bright and early each and every morning until they’re returned, or you pay to have them replaced.”
“You can’t do that!”
“It’s in the terms and conditions you signed when you registered for our texting notification service, sir, right under the warning that your carrier’s usual text fees will apply.”
“I never agreed to that!”
“You initialed both boxes, sir.”
“But . . . but this is harrassment!”
“You could always return the books, sir.”
“My taxes paid for those books—and they pay your salary, too!”
“I see. Well, I suppose we could make an exception in your case. How’s this—you return three of the five books and pay all of your fines, and we’ll move up your daily reminder to one am. Agreed?”
I love this bookcase . . . but where do you start shelving?
Library Principles for Students, from the Old Testament
(adapted from Ian Frazier’s “Lamentations of the Father,” by librarian extraordinaire, Jim Farrington)
Of the beasts of the field, and of the fishes of the sea, and of all foods that are acceptable in my sight you may eat, but not in the Library.
Of the hoofed animals, broiled or ground into burgers, you may eat, but not in the Library.
Of the cloven-hoofed animal, plain or with cheese, you may eat, but not in the Library.
Of the cereal grains, of the corn and of the wheat and of the oats, and of all the cereals that are of bright color and unknown provenance you may eat, but not in the Library.
Of the round pies of baked dough, topped variously and wondrously with goodness of the Earth, especially with extra garlic and double cheese, you may eat, but not in the Library, neither may you carry such therein.
Of quiescently frozen dessert and of all frozen after-meal treats you may eat, but not in the Library.
Of the juices and other beverages, you may drink, but not in the Library, unless it is that drink of two parts hydrogen and one of oxygen and only then should the mixture be held in a container of the prescribed shape and nature that miraculously do not spill even when uprighted.
Indeed, when you reach the place where the Library carpet begins, of any food or beverage there you may not eat, neither may you drink.
Laws When at Table, in Carrel, or in Wingback
And if you are seated in your comfy chair, keep your legs and feet below you as they were. Neither raise up your knees, nor place your feet upon the table, for that is an abomination to me. Yes, even though this might be something you would do in confines of your own domicile, your feet upon the table are an abomination, and worthy of rebuke.
Draw not with your pens or pencils or other implements of writing upon the table or the books before you, even in pretend, for we do not do that; that is why. Yours shall not be the last eyes to gaze understandably upon the words so written, and they should be as fresh for your followers as for you and your antecedents.
On Vocal Discourse
Do not speak loudly with thy neighbor or study mate within the Library; for it is as if you scream all the time. If you find a troubling idea foisted upon your eyes between the bindings of a book, your voice rises up even to the ceiling, while you point to the offense with the finger of your right hand; but I say to you, scream not; only remonstrate gently with a knowing nod, that you may correct the fault of the author in your own essay.
Likewise, if you find your mind wandering from the soulfulness of your studies, again I say, refrain from conversing with whoever be at hand so that others might not be so distracted.
Play not the electronic gadgets fitted to your ears at such a volume as to cause others to march to your drum machine.
Though the need will eventually arise that you must give in to your ignorance of a matter bibliographic and throw yourself prostrate to the all-knowing ones behind the Great Oaken Desk in the Campbell Reference Center, wail not despairingly nor gnash the teeth loudly, for the sound carries great and far in that part of the Library, and then many of your peers will know of your misfortune; behold, I whisper myself, yet do not die.
Various Other Laws, Statutes, and Ordinances
Attempt not to repair broken word carriers with your own tape, for these are matters better left to our specialists.
Forget not that to steal is one of the original sins, and you will be punished woefully, if not now then in the fullness of time.
Although the Library’s computers are capable of seeing many wondrous sites in the World, look not upon the lascivious or unscholarly among them, nor print endless reams of things of which those who pay your bills would not approve.
New technology has always required some adjustment . . .
* Downith started it by sending me this article—it’s not overly funny, but it is important!