Monthly Archives: September 2007

No sympathy here….

In the never ending saga of Libraries That Make Awful Decisions, there comes the story of the Harrison Public Library in New York.

Even the dead apparently have to pay the fines on their overdue books at one Westchester County library. Elizabeth Schaper said she was charged a 50-cent late fee while turning in a book that her late mother had checked out of a Harrison Public Library branch.”I was in shock,” Schaper said. “This has rocked me to my core.”

Schaper’s mother, Ethel Schaper, died at the age of 87 on Sept. 16 after suffering a massive stroke. A few days later, Schaper said she found a library book, “The Price of Silence,” by Camilla Trinchieri, that her mother had checked out from the library.

“My mother was an avid reader _ she read an average of two books a week,” Schaper said. “She was a frequent patron of the library.”

Schaper said she returned the book last week, and was stunned when the man behind the library counter told her of the 50-cent fee.

“I told him that maybe he didn’t hear me right, that my mother had just died, otherwise I’m sure that she would have returned it on time,” Schaper said. “His only reply was that, ’That will be 50 cents.’”

Connie Perrotta, a secretary for the director of the Harrison Public Library, confirmed the incident occurred but said that the library would have no comment.

Schaper said a couple days after the incident another library employee called to apologize and offered to return the fine she had paid.

OK.  Kudos to the library for refunding the fine…..but I’m afraid the damage was done.  And the story has hit the AP wires, which means everyone and their brother know about the incident.   I sincerely hope that this is not business as usual at this – or any – library.

In contrast, a number of communities in my area of the state were recently hit with torrential rains – over 17 inches in some areas.  The libraries in those communities were relatively unscathed, but many people lost their homes.  Some of those people actually went to the library to report that the library books that they had checked out were lost along with all of their possessions.  The library’s response was to forgive the fines and replacement fees.  The librarian figured that these folks had enough to deal with.  Worrying about reimbursing the library didn’t need to be on the list.

Now…..which library has endeared itself to the community?  Which library’s bond issue will be passed, when the time comes?


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Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship


I recently had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of a wonderful new book by Minnesota author Brian Freeman, and I wanted to share my thoughts on the book.

“Stalked”  is a terrific read.  Brian is a mystery writer and crafts riveting, fast-paced stories with interesting twists and turns.  I started the book on Friday night, picked it back up on Saturday morning, and didn’t put it down until I was finished.  I couldn’t read fast enough, I was so drawn into the story.  And I didn’t see the ending coming, either.

The book won’t be out officially until February, so I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a bit to read it yourself.  But make a note and grab it when you can!  In the meantime, he’s got two other terrific novels – “Immoral” and “Stripped.”  If you like mysteries, you’re gonna love this guy.

MPOW will be hosting Brian in an author visit on March 20th, so if you’re in the area and are interested, mark your calendars and meet Brian!

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Filed under Me and mine, Miscellaneous

Fun Library Marketing – Really!

It’s been a crazy few days at MPOW. I’m hip-deep in grant writing, and I’m seeing the end of the tunnel but it’s still a ways away.

I had to take a minute, though, and send kudos to the folks at the Wyoming libraries. Yet again, they’ve come up with a cool and clever marketing campaign. They always seem to make libraries seem like such fun – something most of us struggle with. Face it, most library marketing is boring. Bo. Ring.

Enter those fabulous Wyoming folks and Mudflap Girl.

It’s a fun take on the (ahem) traditional mudflap image. They’ve got some terrific bookmarks, too.

And my personal favorite:

Love ’em. Makes you want to visit the library, because these people are fun. There’s more on their website, so go check it out. And have fun, already!


Filed under Libraries and Librarianship

Customer service….or not.

DBF and I chatted this morning about her frustrating experience this weekend at a local car dealership.  She takes cars very seriously.  She had done her research, culled through the possibilities, and had chosen The Car.  She ended up so frustrated by what was going on at the car dealership that she walked out.

This woman was going to write a check for the car, and she walked out.  And the dealer will probably never know what happened.

This brings to mind the story passed on during one of the programs offered by MPOW geared to seniors.  One woman attended the classes, dragging her husband with her.  Turns out, he hadn’t been in a library since 1954.

What happened to that man in a library that was so awful that it took him over 50 years to return?

What customer service are we offering to our patrons?  Are we greeting them with a smile?  Are we being as helpful as we can?  Are we making patrons feel like coming back? Or are people walking out after having an awful experience….and never coming back?

Recently I visited a library – whose name and location will remain cloaked for obvious reasons.  Another librarian and I had walked in to present a program for the library.  We were standing there,  bags and laptops in hand, rather obviously looking lost.  To our right was the main circulation desk, at which were seated two librarians.  They were chatting with each other.  They would occasionally look at us, give a faint moue of distaste, and then go back to chatting.  No greeting at all.  Finally, I asked for some help with directions to the room, which was reluctantly given.

Gosh, what a warm welcome.  Made us all warm and fuzzy inside.  </sarcasm> I am assuming most patrons are greeted this way in this particular library.

This.  Is.  Not.  Acceptable.

We work for the public.  We seem to lose sight of this, but the fact remains….we work for the public.  And if the public finds that we’re superfluous and they haven’t darkened our door in 50 years because  of some cranky-pants librarian…..well, that bond issue just may not pass.

If you are a library manager and have staff like this in your library, they are hurting youDo something.  Before it’s too late.

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Filed under Customer Service, Libraries and Librarianship


We spent the weekend at home with family, celebrating my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary.

50 years.

The weather this time was beautiful – one of those picture-postcard days in late summer.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Fluffy clouds in a brilliant blue sky.  Apparently, this was not the case the day Mom and Dad got married.  1957 was pre-air conditioning, and it was beastly hot.  Mom recalls that the reception hall became so warm, the icing started melting on their wedding cake.

The family gathered for a dinner at a local restaurant – all five of us, with assorted spouses and kids.  Dad’s sister Jeanne joined us, too.

It was a wonderful evening of laughter and reminiscences.  And it was a blessing to be able to have the celebration.  Many never are able to do so.

So, to Mom and Dad, and to family.

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