Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Libraries and The Miserable Ms. Cohen

My friend Pedro Murteira wrote to say I should stop bothering the librarians at the Main Library and just use their horrible internet database from home to reserve whatever I wanted, and that the system works quite well.

He was perfectly correct, but part of the pleasure of being physically at a library is stumbling across books you would not have thought to ever read, or encountering a DVD of a movie that had never even crossed your radar.

I wrote last week
about how the staff was so grouchy at the Main Library back in the 1990s and the private Mechanics Institute Library staff was so welcoming during the same time, but that somehow the opposite is now true. I've also noticed quite a few former employees from the Mechanics Institute now working at the Public Library.

One of them clued me in. "Inez Shor Cohen used to work here at the public library for a long time and she was a real piece of work, plotting with her cohorts how to make everyone miserable. Unfortunately, a few of them are still working here. Right now I've heard that they're having serious staffing problems at the Mechanics Institute and firing people without cause. It's not pretty."

Why are certain people so purposeful in spreading misery wherever they go and why are they so often in positions of power? My friend Jack Murray, a retired Proust scholar in Santa Barbara, writes that Voltaire's "Philosophical Dictionary" is "fun for an undergraduate or a cynical adult, but it wears thin after a while." Still, I'm sure Voltaire will have some answer to the above question. It's a subject with which he was well acquainted.

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