Monday, July 06, 2009

Keeping the riff raff out of the library in Aliso Viejo

I like to drive, so I've taken advantage of all the opportunities that have come my way to drive the length of California and Oregon. (I plan to set out eastward as soon as possible.) I've stopped in libraries in small and large towns in both states, and always was given an opportunity to use a computer.

Until today. I came to Aliso Viejo library, and asked to use a computer.

"Sure," the librarian said. "Right over there."

That was easy, I thought. Usually you have sign something. So I sat down and was faced with a computer screen that asked for my library card number. I looked for the "guest" option, but there wasn't any.

"Do you have to have a library card to use the computer?" I asked the librarian.

She was a real sweet-looking young woman, pretty, with a neat brown pageboy haircut. She smiled at me. "Yes," she said, but all you need is photo ID and proof of address to get one."

I don't have proof of address because I live in San Diego. "You don't allow people without library cards to use the computers?" I asked.

"No," she said.

I was appalled. What's going on in this place?

I had already begun to suspect that Aliso Viejo is hostile to people who don't live here. I learned, when I was staying at an acquaintance's home, that they tow cars at night even though the cars are parked in perfectly legal places. I guess they figure that most people who pay to get their cars out of impound will then go home and never come back. I, however, came back, and filed a petition to get a refund for my impound fees. I took photos of my parking space, proving that it was legal, and asked that the Sheriff of Orange County provide the video taken by the deputy who towed my car. I got a refund a few days later.

I'll bet Aliso Viejo gets some services and perhaps funds from Orange County and California and the federal government--so why do they think they can act like the whole town is private property?

I asked the librarian, "May I speak to the manager of the library?"

The librarian paused. Finally she said, "You can go over to the information desk and get a temporary computer pass."

The lady at the information desk got me set up at a computer in no time flat. I asked her, "Why did the librarian lie to me? I had to ask to see the manager before I found out that guests can use the computers."

She said, "We do try to discourage people who don't have library cards."

"You sure do," I said.

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