Because letter writing is an endangered art

Dear mother who allowed her small child to sweep an entire shelf of juvenile non-fiction books and, later, about 50 board books out onto the carpet in scattered heaps and then waltzed off without trying to straighten it up or notify anyone of the mess,

You are a ho-bag.


Dear everybody else,

Here is how to not be a ho-bag while using your library.

1. Please keep an eye on children who might be prone to creating such messes. Actually, just keep an eye on your children, period. If you can't see them, that is not good. Seriously. There are freaky people at libraries. And things children might be tempted to climb up and then fall off of. Also sharp corners. And maybe exposed wiring. Who even knows.

2. When your child makes a mess, please clean it up. I don't CARE if the other kids were pulling out board books too. Please take pride in your library and don't leave it looking trashed.

Helpful Note: You library should have several shelves or carts specifically designed for books that need to be put away. Locate them and make them your friends. If at the end of your visit you realize that you have all these items you don't want to check out, you can just leave them on that shelf/cart to be put away by the library staff. Then you're not leaving a mess, the books go back where they belong, everybody wins and can go frolic in the meadows together while sharing moments of ecstasy and love.

3. There are exceptions to the Stay And Clean It Up Your Own Dang Self Rule.

a. You discover a big ol' mess about 5 minutes after you needed to leave for another appointment.

b. You have a fussy/screaming child with you.

c. You're not sure how to clean it up (especially when it involves, say, reshelving books by Dewey Decimal number) or where the items go.

d. Your water just broke.

In such cases, gather the books up so it's obvious that you made an effort, then go find a library employee. Say words like this: "I'm so sorry, I turned my back on [----]den for a second and he made a big mess. I've tried to straighten it up but I'm not sure how to put these books away in order . . ." Just explain the situation. At this point the librarian or whoever will stop you and say, "Oh, don't worry, we'll take care of it, thanks for letting us know."

And they really will mean that. They'd much rather put the books back in the right order than have to go over and fix books that have been shoved somewhere willy-nilly. They would also much rather clean up the mess with a cheerful heart than listen to your child scream while you try to clean it. Pretty much if the choice is ever between a crying child and something else, we will always pick the something else. Trust me. (Unless the something else is poop or vomit.) And they will respect you for coming forward, for taking responsibility, and for asking for assistance rather than just assuming that it's the library staff's job to clean up the huge messes you regularly leave in your wake. As if the library were Denny's with books.

When they see you during subsequent visits, they will not think, "Oh great, here comes that hobag who lets her kids trash the library. We know what we'll be doing later." They will instead think, "Oh hey, it's that nice lady who takes responsibility and doesn't think we are servants. We like her."

And believe you me: it's good to have the librarians on your side.


cooldad said... [reply]

I'm sorry. Can you please define "ho-bag" ?

Nemesis said... [reply]

Sure: "One who allows her children to trash the library and then just leaves the mess there."

stupidramblings said... [reply]


Would you please tell us how you really feel? The tone of your post didn't give any indication either way...

cooldad said... [reply]

Oh. Okay. So ho-bag is synonymous with irresponsible in the librarian lexicon. Good to know.

april said... [reply]

"...I turned my back on [----]den...."

best laugh of the day for me! i don't think i even what to know how many different prefixes utahns combined with "den" while naming their children. i guess it's better than adding a "la" or "le" before a name.

AmyJane said... [reply]

I like to think that me and my offspring try to be those good type of people. Judging by the librarians who start cooing at my baby and high fiving my son when we walk in, I think we're doing OK. And, yes, I'm quite proud of that.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Amyjane, you SHOULD feel proud! And now you know those library people have your back. :-)

TheMoncurs said... [reply]

The other day I was trying to pick out some books for my 17 month old and he wandered off. He was only about 10 feet from me, but he was headed for a doorway out into the main section of the library. A librarian who knows us from Thursday baby time had to collar him and I felt so horrid. I was like, "Nem would totally write a post about me right now."

Nemesis said... [reply]

Moncurs, no worries. That's pretty tame stuff. The judging only starts if your baby has been wandering around for more than a couple of minutes while you're checking your Facebook page. ;-)

Amanda said... [reply]

I'm glad you included the exceptions, I was started to feel really guilty about all those DVDs my toddler messed up while I was changing my baby's diaper. (The baby was screaming fit to be tied while I was trying to clean it up, so I put the rest in the re-shelf bin, made my excuses, and got out of there.) I'm glad the library gods will not visit me with their displeasure, and also that I'm not a ho-bag.

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

That is definitely NOT what a ho-bag is. Good, funny use of a classic 90's term however.

I had a hard time getting past the fact you are treating us all to ecstacy in a meadow. When is THAT going down?

Giggles said... [reply]

This is what you need to do. You need to get signs similar to the ones that Jeff Foxworthy was always talking about handing out to people. And then you need to start handing them out to people.

Then if people wear their signs the next time they come in, the librarians can already be drawing straws in the back to see who's going to have to take care of whatever that person breaks this time.

FoxyJ said... [reply]

When I was working as a page at Provo they actually added a sign in the kids section warning people not to leave their children unattended. That felt very "here's your sign" to me.

My husband was once working check-out and saw a lady let her two-year-old open a DVD, get it out, and suck on it without stopping him. No wonder library DVDs are always in such nasty shape.

Word verification: crakster
I think that should be our new term for such parents.

Bridget said... [reply]

I liked the "[----]den" line, too. Hilarious.

FoxyJ, my favorite part about all the ruined library DVDs is that we all just keep returning them without saying anything. I think we all believe we'll get into trouble if we report them as damaged, even if we're not the one who did it. So I keep checking out the SAME RUINED COPY of Angelina for my daughter even though it's been a year now and no one has reported that it doesn't work.

Yankee Girl said... [reply]

So don't hate me for shareing this:

About a week ago at my mom's library someone left a pile of poop in the women's bathroom. Judging by size, quantity, and location they are pretty sure that it was an adult woman who was attempting to squat over the toilet and missed. The janitors had all gone home for the day and so one poor librarian was tasked with cleaning it up. The other librarians have since showered her with awards and gifts.

dynomitegirl said... [reply]

I think I might be a ho-bag (dang it). You see the library is my favorite place in the entire world. My 13 year old agrees, my 10 year old agrees most of the time, my six year old puts up with the rest of us and reads quietly in the corner......then there is the monster 4 year old who believes the library to be a jungle gym (I am sure all of the books are the missing piece to the jungle gym puzzle that he can not put together). Our library consumption has gone down from weekly to way less than I would like after he learned to run. I never knew what to do with the books he pulled off the shelf. I admit I have been guilty of both walking away and trying to reshelf them. I never had a good solution for my problem, and now I know...find a librarian. (I was secretly worried they would ban me from the library card carrying club). New goal for the year...try not to be a ho-bag, I feel so much better now.

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