Kid loses library privs, gets a news article

Since I found it on Fark yesterday, it must be a precious snowflake story masquerading as real news.

The headline says it all: Nazareth rescinds 7-year-old Tatamy boy’s library privileges over residency

Dominick Philip’s mother says her little boy was crushed by news that he can no longer visit the Memorial Library of Nazareth and Vicinity.

“He was crying and saying he was never going to the library again,” Melissa Philip recalls. “He just didn’t understand what he did wrong.”

The 7-year-old didn’t do anything wrong. He just had some fun at the library on the day a Morning Call photographer turned up to snap photos.

Dominick led a parade of other kids around the library, a planned activity, and got his picture in the Allentown paper. The photographer included Dominick’s hometown — Tatamy — in the caption; that’s where the trouble started.

You see, Tatamy residents aren’t part of the Nazareth library system. They’re part of the Easton Area Public Library system.

A library employee checked Dominick’s address after seeing his photo in the paper, then called and left a message on the family’s answering machine with the news, Melissa Philip says.

“As a parent, it just makes you upset,” she says, noting that it’s outrageous someone took time to research her son. “It’s a little over the top.”

I don’t know why anyone at the library would have bothered either. Must have been a slow circulation day if they had time to check up on somebody like that.

But, I wonder what the phone call really said – that he can’t come to their library ever again or can’t borrow from that library on account of where he lives. That’s two separate issues.

One is over the top and an unnecessary restriction. Anyone should be allowed to be in a library if they want to be, unless they’re causing a problem for other patrons or staff. This boy was participating in a planned activity, not causing undue disturbance or being violent in any way. Kicking him out of their library for good makes no sense to me.

The other might have to do with some arbitrary taxing law that might be stupid but will still be followed to the letter by library staff. It might be a case where only residents of that town can have cards and whoever first issued that boy his card dropped the ball. Was he with his mother or a teacher when he first applied for it? Normally libraries won’t let a child sign up for a card all by himself. Had they lived in Nazareth when the card was first issued but later moved, and didn’t realize the card would need to be canceled? There’s not enough information in this article to really understand why it happened. Sounds like an unnecessary embarrassment for the boy anyway, not the first photo in the paper that caused the mess, but this one.

Regina and Saskatoon have public libraries that service residents of those cities. Saskatoon Public Library will give a card to anyone with a valid address in town, and anyone who lives out of town but pays property tax in the city, i.e. business owners. I expect Regina does the same. Saskatoon will also give an SPL card to anyone from anywhere in the province (including Regina) if they provide us with a valid regional library card.

Saskatchewan, like other Canadian provinces, is divided into several library regions on account of its size (bigger than Texas, plus a couple more states). Chinook Regional provides a hideous map, but one city in each region has the regional headquarters and then dozens of smaller towns get branches. Headquarters buys and distributes books to these regional branches so people in those towns have access to library material they wouldn’t otherwise have. The branches may only be open a couple afternoons a week (or be in the breezeway between someone’s house and garage) but gosh darnit, they can get that Nora Roberts book they’ve been waiting for. It works just like a public library system with a main branch and branches and encompassing up to 30 or so towns in each one.

Our province is in the process of setting up an even better inter-library loan service than we’re running now, to make it easier for someone to get the book they want, regardless of what library owns it. Taking out a few hoops, making it a more direct request service that will save time and money, hopefully.

Anyway, it’s too bad this kid’s name got dragged through the muck. It’s too bad he’s only seven and already a target of bureaucracy. I hope he doesn’t stop using libraries. I hope this misunderstanding doesn’t turn him away from the joy books can bring.

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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2 Responses to Kid loses library privs, gets a news article

  1. Roberta says:

    I’m from the area, NOT affiliated with the library, though. The boy was not barred from the library, only from taking out books. The town he lives in refuses to provide funding for the area library, so their residents do not get library privileges. (The library asked for $11,000 in funding, amounting to $12/year per resident, hardly onerous for a middle-class town. The big meanies in this case are the town officials who don’t value library service enough to fund it.

    How did the boy get a card? His mother went to a neighboring library and misrepresented her residence to qualify for one of THEIR cards. Since Pennsylvania has a statewide open-borrowing program, the mother got herself privileges in Nazareth through the back door. She’s not paying a penny in library tax to anyone, but she’s letting other taxpayers foot the bill for her. Just a little selfish, I’d say.

  2. 1minionsopinion says:

    Okay, gotcha. The article was certainly a little bit one sided then, eh? No real surprise there, I guess.

    Thanks very much for updating me on this.

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