Colbert Report: Nailed 'Em - Library Crime

Dominic Philip gets banned from his local library after a photo of him tooting a kazoo in a parade is spotted.
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Nailed 'Em - Library Crime
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The mom seemed to know that they were skirting the rules of the service area all along. If so, the message to the child = "it's OK to cheat", and that's the worst part. The child ends up saying, "I hate the library" at the end of the story. Nice.

The library could have handled this better too. Calling the family and demanding they forfeit the card? How about waiting for them to come in (they do need to return their books) asking about their address, and explain the library's service area? Do this even in cases where you know someone is cheating. Libraries with complicated service areas also should have resources for the circ staff to use so that the wrong people don't get resident cards in the first place. That said, I bet there's more to this story.

I live in the area (and no, I have no connection to the library in question). The mother went to Nazareth and was refused a card because of her residence. So she went to a neighboring library, gave incorrect information about her residence, and got a free card there, complete with open-borrowing privileges at all state-aided libraries. Yes, it's clear to me that the mom understood the rules and went out of her way to circumvent them.

Why didn't Nazareth let the mother buy a non-resident card? It's a hot-button issue locally. The mother's town, Tatamy, refuses to fund the library. What they want instead is to partially subsidize those residents who want to buy nonresident cards. That may sound reasonable on the surface, but if that becomes the new model for library funding, watch out.



At least, not according to the news story published in June.

I have a hard time blaming this little boy or his mother in light of the small-minded tattling that went on to even lead to his getting "busted". They pay taxes, too, after all. Thanks for the great PR, Nazareth Public Library!

No, they don't pay taxes, at least not library taxes. That's the crux of the matter! This family is getting library service for free, and other families are footing the bill. If you don't want to blame the mother, then blame the town they live in and the provincial, cheapskate yahoos who run it, and who honestly believe that library services are a frivolity they can't afford.

If the town is too cheap (stingy, shortsighted, selfish, disinterested in the public good, etc) to fund their library and yet expects to send their taxpayers next door to use the resources that those taxpayers have paid for -- that's cheating. Like expecting for me to pay for your kids shoes when I can't afford shoes for my own child. If this becomes a model for "solving" the problem of budget cuts, all libraries will become private entities like health clubs, only the rich will be able to afford them. And that is UnAmerican as well. We are the home of the public library. It is a cornerstone of our democracy along with free public education.

You are all a bunch of hypocritical cry babies. People use services paid for by taxpayers other than themselves everyday. If you have ever in your life left your home and driven on roads outside of your city, county, or state then sure as day you've driven on pavement paid for by someone else. Hmmm...let's think of a few more things: Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, ever needed emergency services outside of your township or state (I'm pretty sure they don't card you before they pull out the jaws of life). My point is the American thing to do is to watch out for the little guy and in this case this little guy is a child who loves (ed) that library and reading. He's not old enough to vote so it isn't his fault that his town doesn't contribute but he is the one who gets screwed.

Lets say I live in a community next to yours. My community likes to keep taxes low, so we go without curbside pickup of trash. I am supposed to take my trash to the local landfill and pay to dispose of it. Your city has curbside pickup, and it shows up on your city utility bill to the tune of $20 every month. Am I entitled to bring my bags into your town so that I can skip the disposal fee? What happens when a large number of people in my town start doing this?

The concept that public libraries are "free" is a great misconception. If you come into our library, we will give you all the help you need, information, etc. We can be altruistic to a certain degree. We even have a statewide program that allows non-residents to get free library cards to check out books. The only catch is that the visiting patron's home library has to grant the same privilege to our citizens. If your community doesn't have a library, you can pay a non-resident fee that approximates what our taxpayers pay. No free rides.

Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, roads, and even emergency services are funded differently than public libraries. Even the local police & fire departments receive state and federal money.

So are you saying libraries don't receive state/federal money or did I misinterpret your last paragraph? Because my library receives state aid and federal grants, as well as having a Friends organization and having generous patrons donate everything from money to children's programming supplies to books. Municipal libraries are tricky because, at least from every municipal library I have worked at or patronized, they receive funding from all types of sources, from property taxes from the citizens, to state aid, to federal and private grants, to donations. My library currently allows anyone from our county and all the surrounding counties to get library cards. Those citizens in surrounding counties do not have their property taxes allocated for library funds, but they are still allowed to get a 'free' library card.

In the story, the mom admits she put the wrong address on the library card application. She put a PO Box down as her mailing address and that PO Box is within that library's service area. But their physical address is not. Was it to intentionally mislead the library staff or is the PO Box the address she uses most frequently. It is also possible she could have assumed they would want a mailing address.

If someone at my library had caught an error like this, we would have simply put a stop or a block on the card and discussed it with the patron when they came back in. If items were currently out on that card, we would have made a special notation/reminder to periodically check that patron's account for the return of those items. We would not have left a detailed message on someone's answering machine. At most, we would have left a message asking them to call us back.

Of course, it was wrongheaded to call the patron. At my library also, we would have put a block and note on the card. For one thing, we wouldn't want to tick the patron off if they had our materials out! From what I've heard about this case (I'm a local), it wasn't Nazareth who made the phone call, it was Easton, who had given them the Access card in error. I'm not sure what they were thinking when they made that call, because it was really no skin off their backs.

As to the different (and often very complicated) ways libraries are funded, again, you have a point. Where I live, the rules tend to be very rigid, not because the libraries themselves want them that way, but because we're controlled by governmental entities that are very prudent and *very* turf-conscious. As an example, my state has an open borrowing program. Our patrons can borrow freely from all libraries EXCEPT the libraries within our own county, because the county freeholders pitched a fit and thought open borrowing was a ripoff.

When I called our governmental entities "prudent," I misspoke. I mean to say "frugal," and I hope people recognize the tone of forced politeness in that choice of word.

About 97% of our library budget is revenue generated locally through various means, but mostly through property taxes. About 2% of the budget comes from the state, and less than 1% comes in the form of federal grants. One of our neighboring libraries is small and has limited hours. We give their residents limited service. If we gave them the same full service that we give our taxpayers because of the state and federal money, we would go broke to keep that thin sliver of our budget.

Funding for roads, emergency services, etc can not be litmus tests for library service areas. Funding for roads and emergency services are ubiquitous (even if they farm out the work to the county). Library funding is not ubiquitous. Some towns spend $0 on libraries.

What country do you live in? The last time a public library received Federal funding in this country, Jimmy Carter was President.

The point is, they lied and used deception to get what thay want. They should pay.

I haven't seen anything that suggests either Dominic or his mother "conspired" to utilize the library resources without paying taxes. Sounds like to me the library just screwed up. So actually you are the liar!

THe problem here is that the buttholes in her town dont value children and literacy...this is not the fault of the library in any way shape or form. I would love to give my services to any and all children from any part of my state but the fact is that my resources are limited. THis lady broke the rules and got caught....when that happens you get "nailed" and thats the way it should be. Could the library have handled it better? Sure but that is just PR. If Mom wants to use the services paid for by other towns then she needs to pay OR get her town to pony up the money for libray access.

THose of you who are poopooing this send me your address and I will stop paying my garbage and sewage taxes and be sure to dump it at your place. While were at it I might as well park my car and camper at your house as well so that you can pay the taxes on those as well....come on kids get a grip.

I spent a little time today reading newspaper articles going back to 2000 about Nazareth Library's struggle to get funding from Tatamy and a couple of neighboring towns. They used to allow residents of these towns to buy cards, but they finally realized they were enabling the towns in their freeloading ways. So they formally switched to a per-capita funding formula, which really couldn't be more fair, when you think about it. Tatamy, being a small town, was assessed much smaller fees than its neighbors. Yet it balked, and whined, and finally took its marbles and went home. Tatamy is not a poor town. That they are so hostile to the library is indeed testament to their values, and it's sad.