a reply, and my reply to DeKalb County Libraries

{DeKalb Libraries responded to my open letter (which you can read in my last post). Director Weissinger waived my yearly non-resident fee and promised to look into the situation at the Tucker branch. My reply is below. I well know this pushes my buttons for long-ago personal reasons, but I also know it's a vital issue today}

Dear Ms. Weissinger,

Thank you for such a prompt response. Even though you have waived it, I would like to pay my yearly non-resident fee -- I went into the library ready to pay it. My neighbors have had to do this as well, and they are avid library users, most of them with small children. If they live in Tucker and less than a mile from the Tucker library and have to pay the non-resident fee, so do I.

You didn't mention it, but I also want to pay the $10 fine that has sat on my card since 2005. I don't remember this fine and didn't realize I had it, but I am happy to pay it, even though the desk librarian at Tucker sounded punitive when she told me about it. "Okay, I'll pay that, too," I told her. Then I was told I couldn't use a credit card to pay the $55 total, so I said I would go home and get a check.

The entire exchange was unpleasant, unprofessional, and frankly shocking. I have never encountered librarians -- or trained para-professionals, or anyone behind the desks -- with such a blase, bored, who-cares, and "you're bothering me" attitude. The point, for me, is that librarianship is still the most unbiased, staunchest bastion we have with which to fight illiteracy and misinformation. An informed citizenry is vital to our democracy, not to mention individual quality of life and community health.

I am capable of looking up the answers to my questions on my own. Many of your patrons are not. Your services benefit people of all ages and persuasions and demographics and diversities. Many years ago I was a homeless teenaged mother, infant on my hip, standing in front of the information desk asking for help. I had no earthly support. Librarians behind that desk took me in hand and gave me the tools with which I could fashion a life. If they had turned me away, if I had felt unwelcome, I wouldn't have gone back. And I did go back, over and over, library after library, in town after town, ahead of the landlord, ahead of whatever disaster befell me, until I could get on my feet. I well understand the power of libraries and librarians to help shape a life. Lives.

If the fee (and fine) cannot be paid in the traditional way (since it has already been waived), I will make a $55 donation to the library fund of your choice. Please let me know how I can pay this.

Thank you for listening and for reading, and for considering what might be done to ensure all are welcome at the library.


Deborah Wiles

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