A Very Real Thing That Happened To Me This Week At The Library

So, I have to start this post with the following preface: I love the library. I spent most of my happiest teen days either in the library or at home (or elsewhere) reading library books. The librarians at my old hometown library still ask after me when they see my mother, that is how much fucking time I spent at the fucking library. I volunteered at the elementary school library for a year in high school for credit, for a woman I can only describe as a terrifying dried out crone-mage. I purchase my mother library tote bags from most cities I ever travel to. She used to drive us an hour to the nearest state university so we could go to the STATE library and do fun research we couldn’t do at our home library. WE ARE A LIBRARY-LOVING FAMILY.

I never balk at paying a fine, or donating to a library book drive or fundraiser, even in TOWNS I DON’T NOR WILL I EVER LIVE. I’ve donated to various library-run efforts to re-fund de-funded libraries in tax-poor districts. I once gave my dad the silent treatment for an hour in my early twenties after he suggested that taxes for libraries were a waste and that is what book stores are for*. Ok? Got it? Shit’s in my blood. I am not here to hate on, persecute, or disparage the beautiful and gloriously large Toronto Public Library system.


After having various $20 fines appear on my library account, paying them, repeat, I have already had it up to here with the Yorkville branch of the public library. After paying $20 twice, I was told “the system” said I’d only payed $20 once in the past 6 months, and that without providing a receipt, they would not take the current $20 hold off my account. So I paid it a third time. $60 I have given these people in a 6-month period where I checked out MAYBE six books?

Bear in mind – half the time I haven’t been given a receipt for paying fines at this branch. Bear in mind – if they had, it was literally a janky, totally forge-able receipt that looked like something that a shady accountant cooks up on a vintage adding machine to make it seem like your failing business is in the black. Personally, I choose to believe that someone is cooking the books at the old TPL and keeping all the dirty fake fine money to booze and coke their brains off, so that they might then go on to help set the Toronto Public Library policies, which are clearly the product of drug abuse.

Case in point: I went to put a few books on hold and found to my chagrin that my library card had “expired”, something that hadn’t happened to me, possibly ever? And that from now on you have to renew your library every year with your current address, no matter how many sublets you do in a year (in my case my personal best was 6 sublets in a 14 month period). Do these monsters think checking out books with current info is somehow more vital than our 5- and (new) 10-year passport system? Or an Ontario driver’s license, for that matter?

I walked over to my local branch along with $4.60 for fines which I had MAGICALLY accrued without checking anything out, because apparently their new business model is just a straight-up ponzi scheme, with the head librarian at the top and me somewhere at the bottom, sending in pennies for Jesus (or books). I brought my love and our puppies along in tow because a) puppies and b) we both had books to return.

After an apparently normal visit in which nothing odd happened, my partner Danz came out and took the pup-minding reins from me. I walked up the steps to my so-called “home” branch. If by “home” they mean, the place unhappy children run away from crying.

I brought along with me photo ID (as the website had mentioned) in the form of my Ontario health card. I don’t have a driver’s license. Because they need a piece of ID with your current address on it, I brought along my hospital card from Toronto Western, where I recently had surgery. Bear in mind that I used this VERY SAME identification for no less than the municipal elections, as well as picking up at Canada Post. So, like. These are legit forms of ID, ok?

The woman who was helping me refused to accept these IDs because a) the health card does not have an address b) the plastic hospital card with my name and address EMBOSSED into it “Could be a fake”. My response was polite. “I don’t think anyone would buy a credit card embosser to make a fake hospital card in order to renew their library card.” Despite this winning logic, she refused to accept my ID. Ok lady, do you even know how much a credit embosser costs? Hint, A LOT FUCKING MORE THAN YOU THINK THEY DO:


I asked if there was any other way to do this today. She handed me a postcard, which I could write ANY ADDRESS OF MY CHOOSING ONTO, and they would mail it to that address, and then I would bring it back in. You know, thus “PROVING” my residence. Or that I know the mailing address of anyone who doesn’t have a locked mailbox. Whatever. SAMESIES.

Just as I was about to start filling the form out, another woman came to renew her card and went through the whole rigamorole, only in her case her ID was a piece of mail. That’s it. No photo ID. Just AN ENVELOPE SHE COULD HAVE PRINTED OUT OF HER PRINTER AT HOME.

The other librarian (Who, I might add, has HIRED me as a contractor and in fact KNOWS my address because that’s where I fucking invoiced to) turned and smiled at my words of protest. “I know,” she gave her most charming librarian whisper. “It’s a really silly policy. Sorry.”**


Yorkville branch, you are fucked. I hate you almost as much as I hate Taylor Swift. I hate you almost as much as I hate the phrase “cheese food”. Fuck yourselves. I SHALL NOT BE TAMED, Yorkville branch.

So you know what I did? I calmly filled out the post card to be mailed to me. Then in clear printing underneath, I wrote out (FURIOUSLY) “Yorkville Branch Fascists”. Yes, that’s right. I deflected to the kind of contextless protest most notably used by conspiracy theorists with angelfire pages. I mic dropped the pen and walked away wordlessly. This is honestly how I interact with the world, most of the time.

What the fuck is wrong with me?

The best part of this whole ordeal is the fact that when I came outside, I told Danz and she kind of nervous-chuckled, the way she does when I, say, get in a yelling match with a guy at the dog park and tell him to get his “shitty fucking dog” out of said park. The same way in which she reacted when I told a woman (also in Yorkville) driving a Benz who proceeded to hit me (yes really) with said Benz (not too hard) and then blame me for the fact that she hit me with her car, “Go blow your fucking brains out, lady”, after which I spat directly upon her motor vehicle. The same sly smile which says, “I’m engaged to a mad woman. Whoops. Good thing I love her.”

As we walked home, I made one last confession:

“I’m sad about that fight at the library.”

Danz asked me why.

“I think I may have spelled ‘fascist’ wrong.”


Last night she asked me, again, “Hey did you ever check if you spelled fascist correctly?”

Me: “I just don’t have the heart to put myself through something like that right now.”

I’m only writing this post because I checked today and I SPELLED IT FUCKING RIGHTLY. GO MY BADASS MOTHERFUCKING SELF AND FUCK YORKVILLE BRANCH TPL FOREVER. I HATE YOU AND I HATE YOUR INSATIABLE NEED FOR FINE MONEY AND ID FORMS I DON’T HAVE AND I mean I’ll probably come back and check out some books in like a month and pretend like the whole thing never happened, but until then I am burning my fucking card – scratch that, I’m going to fucking smoke it:


* Per my father, after reading this post, “PS. for the record: my view on the library was that $200M or whatever was proposed for a new downtown libe was a lot of cash in a city with so many places to put the $. I believe I had suggested a super modest user fee payment that could be waived for students and low income groups but could generate some much needed cash from the users with means…most of downtown Ottawa is not low income earners by any means…Even Donald [McCormick, late family patriarch] would have approved of a 25 cents per book fee and if one multiplies that x the # of transactions and added a very small fee say 1 cent/minute for internet use….one gets a pile of money pretty quickly! PS I believe in toll roads and other user fees where the cost of administration does not supersede or detract significantly from the funds collected.” He added that he gave my rant a 10/10 score, otherwise. Duly reported, Gord.

**In the other librarian’s defense, Danz pointed out she might not have recognized me as I’ve lost weight, but ALSO? Danz was literally in the library four seconds before I was so….you can take your dirty library fine-earned payments and shove them down your return slot.

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