Okay, so I didn’t leave the ALA Conference Sunday afternoon and come flying back the La Crosse, I did see some of my friends from Chicago.

Sunday night, I hung out with the Brunette’s brother. He and I have an amazing ability to miss each other’s phone calls. It’s kind of uncanny. He’d leave a message, I wouldn’t get it until three hours later and too late to meet up. I’d let him know of plans, he’d call back the next day or sometime in the following week. Repeat for the entire 14 months I lived in Chicago.

But here, we managed to coordinate not only phone calls, but locations! Who knew? We wandered over to West Fest and then to Old Town, trading stories at ridiculous speeds. Yes, I even took a picture to prove the occasion actually happened. Well, I didn’t take it, but I handed off the camera for appropriate snapping of pictures.

Monday, AudioGirl and I set off for breakfast and then her local branch. To our mutual surprise and dismay, her library won’t allow you to place holds on materials if you have a fine on your card. Nor will they allow online payments so that if you want to place a hold and have a fine, you could discharge it from home. No, you have to go to the branch to pay. Her suggestion: “Make me pay when I pick up the book, hold THAT book hostage, at least you know I want it and will come for it!”*

Despite being a large and relatively new building, walking into AudioGirl’s branch felt like running a gauntlet. Yes, I know putting a desk where you walk in directs people to staff but it felt unwelcoming–this HUGE expanse of desk and nowhere to go but down a corridor past it into the computer area and be judged if we were worthy of using the materials. I suppose it was relatively similar at my old branch but at least there one could see books and seating area. Here it was all computer desks and it felt cramped.

I failed in the “are you worthy to enter” category. I had a covered cup of iced tea with me. I hadn’t slurped it at high speed because we weren’t actually using the library, we were never going past the gauntlet. But I got asked to leave with it anyway while AudioGirl paid a 60 cent fine and forgot to place the hold. We finally did put it on hold back at her house.

The drink thing both amused and saddened me. I understand it, truly I do. It’s an urban library, and there can certainly be a lot of food and drink issues. Our policy at my current POW is no “meals” and we do try to keep food to the “toddler snack” variety, which seems to go over with our patrons. What this means for me is that I don’t have to be the drink police and saying no. And to be honest, the last two big spills I’m aware of–both were staff members, both were in staff work areas, and one of them was me. I was just glad it was on a part of the floor that was linoleum, I was drinking a latte.

Following the library, AudioGirl and adjourned to a used bookstore for new-to-us knitting books and then to a large city park to bask in sunshine and soak up a lovely summer day with a friend. It was amusing to see from the bookstore markings how short a time good knitting books last. Both of the books we purchased had come into the store less than two weeks before and while they had shelves upon shelves of cookbooks, there was only one wee half shelf of knitting books. I finally replaced my copy of Stitch and Bitch, my other copy having gone to live with the Brunette.

Tuesday morning was breakfast and then back to La Crosse. The day was overcast, which actually helped. Driving back during the day puts me directly in the sun’s path and I didn’t really need my left arm to get completely burnt. I’ve done that once already, it’s not fun. I pulled into La Crosse just after 4 p.m. and was on desk by five.

*Note: Have since spoken to Madame Director about online payments and how it might be possible without the money disappearing into city coffers. We’re getting credit/debit payments, which is a significant start.