Friday, June 13, 2008

First Bus Ride & Library Troubles [update]

I just put him on the public bus.

His friend, the one that lives 10 miles away a distance he was previously enthusiastic about bicycling to, also lives near the bus line. We are literally one block away.

It is not a great bus system. A bus comes by every half hour. They both go down the main strip from our town to the Next Town Over (where the friend lives). When it gets to the downtown area of the Next Town it either goes south to the hospital or north to the event center. If he catches the north-bound bus he will get within blocks of her house. If he takes the south-bound bus, as he did today, he has to get off at the library and walk maybe half a mile. He could have put his bike on the rack on the front of the bus, but didn't.

Anyway, it was funny. To me anyway.

Teenagers in general are all bravado. When we were making goals with the social worker one of the was to learn the bus system. His attitude then was "no problem." Today though he was nervous. I walked him to the stop because he was worried that the bus might not really stop. He got on worried about whether he would miss his stop. Would he be allowed to talk to the driver? Could he ask if this was the stop for the library? I assured him he could, really. He laughed and said it was like the first day of school all over again. [Update: I asked him to text me when he got there. He's there. He's fine. Once he was riding he wasn't even nervous.]

I also took him to our library to get him a library card. I told them that he had previously had a card at another library in the consortium when he lived "with his other aunt." The librarian explained nicely that there was a CD that had been checked out a year ago under his name. It hadn't been returned, and went to collections. Maybe we could contact his aunt and remind her to pay it? I said, "She's moved and she really isn't...that just won't work. Can we take care of it?"

We can, but we have to drive into The City because that is where the CD was from. Technically the library isn't supposed to let one person pay another person's fines, but they will probably make an exception in this case.

It was checked out shortly before he left his aunt's house, so I asked him if it was lost when his aunt tossed out his things. He said it was. So I told him not to worry about it, we would take care of it. I called the social worker to see if she can get the fees forgiven, at least for him. If not, I will see if we can mail in a check. Or maybe I should drive in and do it with cash. [Update: I called The City Library and gave them my debit card number over the phone. The fine is paid.]



  1. Speaking as a public librarian and as the child of people who were foster parents for many years.

    This situation happens all the time in public libraries. In every library I've ever worked in, if you explain the situation the fine is forgiven without anyone having to pay it. Just ask to speak privately with the library manager or supervisor on duty and explain that the fine was incurred when he was in the custody of another adult and that the other adult is not in a position to pay it. And because it is such a frequent occurrence, no public librarian I know of would every judge someone because of it.

    By the way, any information given to a public library employee is covered under the Federal Privacy Act of 1975. It is considered confidential, in the same way that doctors and psychiatrists are confidential, and against the law for a public library employee to tell anyone unless compelled by a court order from a federal court. (Whether a federal court is required or a state court would suffice varies depending upon the laws of your state.) Which is why public libraries fought the Patriot Act as it conflicts with this earlier law that most of us view as nearly sacred.

    Although this fine has already been paid, you may wish to keep this in mind for the future.

    One further note: before I left my job for our move to Europe, I was called "The Queen of the Forgiveness" at my library. As long as people were pleasant and gave me a good story, I forgave pretty much everything. If nothing else, as long as they showed good faith I would greatly reduce the fine. In my opinion, public libraries are for the people. Far be it for me to stand in the way of them using our services or materials!

  2. I was nearly 30 when I rode the bus for the first time here in my city. (I had actually ridden a bus a couple times before, but the route was literally straight down one street and really easy). Anyway, I was so nervous as well. And I'm an adult!


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