Monday, March 30, 2009

My librarian contract.

After reading, "Spider-Man Faces Being Banned In Nebraska Public School," where there is some constructive criticism about graphic novels in libraries: "many librarians don’t know the difference between Marvel Adventures Spider-Man and Marvel Knights Spider-man. (The answer is about 12 years.)," I began to wonder whether some libraries are jumping into the graphic novel genre too quickly, if they don't understand the age differences between titles like Naruto and Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. (Wow. I should break up that sentence. Sorry, no time.) Particularly in an elementary school library where second-graders and eighth-graders might share the same reading material (we did in my Catholic private school-- when I was in second grade, I brought an issue of The Witching Hour to show and tell to explain what could go wrong when you summon Satan into our realm. Because when I was a kid, that was huge problem; we were always calling on Satan to kill our parents or bring us ice cream).

Some librarians become truly self-righteous when they purchase materials that may cross the boundaries of age appropriateness. They make judgments about what they think kids are ready to read.

So last week, a librarian let a 6-year old check out a Spider-man graphic novel that had an age recommendation of 12-and-up. A librarian might say, "It's only Spider-man, big deal."

But if the publisher goes as far to label something with age appropriateness, then what level of responsibility do we have if we recommend something to someone who's too young? What happens if you ignore the publisher's rating system? If you say, "Oh, I think this kid can handle this, should you be held responsible if the parent or guardian disagrees?

If the librarian assumes responsibility for what kids read, then where will it lead? Can the librarian then be sued if the parent disagrees? Librarians say that parents are ultimately responsible for what their children read, but what about in the elementary schools? Parents are not likely to wander in and check what's on the shelves.

Would anyone in their right mind equate The Dark Knight: Batman Saves the Day (Batman has a birthday party) with Batman: The Dark Knight Returns?

So as a precaution, in anticipation of the day when librarians can be sued for recommending inappropriate material, I've created this librarian contract. Some might think I've overreacted, but I don't care. I'm doing everything to cover my ass.

I don't serve children, so this is not the child's version of the contract. That one has bunnies printed on it.

I now refuse to assist Customers until they have read and signed the following contract. After the customer signs it, a copy is made and pinned to the customer's clothing. Any customer wandering the library without a visible, signed contract is ignored.


I understand that the "Librarian" is making no recommendations for or against any particular subject or author.

The librarian is only available to facilitate your research for information. Any information you collect for your research is solely your responsibility. Any information you hear or view, touch, smell, taste or sense in any way, as letters, numbers, symbols or energy is entirely your responsibility as you chose of your own free will to enter this structure or location.

The librarian can only assist you as far as your ability to clearly communicate your need for assistance. If assistance is not met to your expectations, return when you are better able or willing to communicate in a way the librarian can understand.

Any electronic communication you receive is not a guarantee that a librarian has answered your query. Electronic data is unreliable and may have been tampered with between the librarian's and your device. Therefore, if you need assisted, non-recommendations for locating information, visit the librarian in person, and wear something so we can attach the contract.

By using the librarian for assistance, I waive any and all rights to complain, to feel aggrieved, to seek civil or legal judgment against the library or librarian. This contract does not exclude any related protections which are not explicitly stated for the library/librarian as guaranteed by other laws, statutes or contracts.

I fully accept that the librarian may attempt to stick me with the pin when he attaches the copy of this contract to my garment. If stuck, any loud noise I make will invalidate this contract and have me removed from the premises.

Witness: God.

If you follow these rules, the librarian should never have a reason to smack you right across your pathetic face. Unless you look like your asking for it.

Feel free to copy this and edit as needed for your professional use or entertainment. (No, of course, this isn't a real contract. I don't know what I'm going to do with you people.)