Thursday, December 11, 2008
Scrooged by library rules
We've all had experiences where a simple transaction is blocked because of a rule. Thanks to some idiot that abused a privledge, the rule was established and we now have to jump through hoops. I understand why rules are set and generally try to conform rather than ask for an exception. Once in a blue moon, exceptions can be justified and should be made. Karen "DeafMom" Putz had just such a circumstance in her local Illinois public library.
Her daughter, also deaf, was to attend a production of "The Christmas Carol" with her class. A series of events left her without an interpreter and a suitable option was to obtain the captioned video. The Putz ladies headed for the nearest library, though not the one that receives the family's tax dollars. A reciprocal agreement allows for the loan of non-fiction videos. Fictional videos require a $100 annual fee plus $1 per loan.
Karen explained the entire situation and the librarian confirmed the captioned video was not available at their hometown library. The only option given to Karen was to pay the annual fee.
As a child I had a physical disability and used crutches for several years. I did not want preferential treatment, have never sought pity nor coddled anyone because of their differences or challenges. As an adult, I have worked with people facing physical challenges and my opinion has not changed.
I do believe in reasonable accomodation, but this instance was even beyond accomodating someone with a disability. The child had a school project. The mom had reciprocal rights to check out most materials from that library. Her contact information is on record. Her home library, as a reciprocal lender, confirmed they did not have the video. An exception in this case would not have caused a proverbial flood of patrons to request exceptions since this was a circumstance where the material was not otherwise available.
She wasn't asking to take out reference material - just a classic fiction DVD. Surely it would be better to extend goodwill and customer service than to have the Naperville, IL Library publicly humiliated.