Rules Rules and More Rules

A post about rules from Library Yarns:

So, I was at work today, once again enforcing rules that I don’t agree with. Three people are working in a conference room on their laptop. They need to print. They ask if they can use one of our patron computers and attach their thumb drive. No problem so far. Turns out that they don’t have a library card and we have a strictly enforced rule that you cannot, no way, no how use our computers without one. I try to use mental telepathy to encourage them to tell me they are from out of state, but they tell me they are from another suburb. Sigh. I try to morse code my own library card number to them (okay, not really) but nothing is working. There is nothing I can do. I want to tell them I think it’s a dumb rule and if there was any way that I could help them and not get in trouble, I would. I can’t say that though…because I’d get in trouble. I’m not a fan of trouble, especially when it involves me.

So, these poor people cannot print what they have been working on all morning. It’s okay, says my co-worker. They aren’t from our library district. She tells me not to feel bad. I do though. Really bad. Not just for them, but for what it does for peoples’ perceptions of libraries. Aren’t we supposed to help people?? There were empty computers. It wouldn’t have hurt anything. Will those people go back into a library if it doesn’t meet their needs? I think that libraries are at such a critical juncture in terms of perception. Why are we pushing people away?

“She tells me not to feel bad…” Wow!

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5 thoughts on “Rules Rules and More Rules”

  1. Thats why we have department vending cards at my library. Patrons pay us at our discretion or buy a vending card themselves.

  2. We have the same rules and I understand how you feel. I polled library systems from around the country a few months ago. Most have the same rules. What is the reason the people are not using their own library? Is it a “one time” thing? Could you have reciprocal “computer use” rights with the other library system if this happens often?

  3. That’s why we have in our library a rule that no staff member will EVER be criticized for breaking a policy if it is in the best interest of the patron.

  4. I’m with Alan. Staff should be trusted to make decisions to bend the rules when necessary to serve the customer.

  5. I can not tell you how many times I have faced this same problem. I agree by following some of the tightly knitted and gripped policies, we are chasing patrons away. I had one student (I am in an academic library)say to me “and I thought librarians were friendly, helpful people!” Ouch! I know just exactly how you feel!

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