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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Lady Bracknell conveys her grateful thanks

Although Lady Bracknell is the first to complain vociferously when the standard of service she receives falls below her exacting (and possibly old-fashioned) standards, she is also a firm believer in offering praise where praise is due.

About two weeks ago, on one of her regular perambulations to the local lending library - an edifice whose location figured strongly in her choice of home - Lady Bracknell discovered to her horror that the library is to be closed for refurbishment from January until early May.

Her ladyship has a warm relationship with the library staff, possibly because she is one of a decreasing number of customers who actually borrow books rather than slumping morosely in front of a computer screen for an hour's access to the interwebnet. As she handed her returned books over the counter, therefore, she felt at liberty to convey her distress at this most unwelcome news.

When Lady Bracknell was informed that customers would be welcome at various other libraries in the city, she pointed out that this was all very well in theory but that, in practice, she is too enfeebled to make these relatively short journeys when carrying bags of books.

When advised of this difficulty, the head librarian (a most delightful lady) vowed that she would put some method in place which would allow Lady Bracknell to borrow unlimited numbers of books. If necessary, she said, she would go so far as to make her own, her husband's, and her son's cards available to her ladyship. In the meantime, Lady Bracknell was encouraged to borrow the full twelve books permitted on her own card, and to return for further instructions on the morning of the 31st of December.

Lady Bracknell therefore presented herself at the counter this morning, and returned the two books she had read over the Christmas hiatus. She then asked the head librarian how many books she might borrow, and was informed that she should take as many as she could carry without exposing herself to further injury.

Concentrating on paperback volumes for the purpose of reducing the overall weight, her ladyship proceeded to choose twenty volumes from the shelves, thereby extending her total borrowings to thirty, if one includes the ten which were already piled up in the hall of Bracknell Towers.

At which point the most estimable head librarian successfully achieved the remarkable feat of over-riding the library computer's insistence that no more than twelve books can be borrowed on any single library card.

Lady Bracknell, who has been a voracious reader from her earliest childhood (indeed, her esteemed mother assures her that she had taught herself to read before ever she went to school) , can think of few punishments more tortuous than the prospect of being deprived of reading matter. It is true that she has the means to purchase books, of course, but those of her readers who have visited Bracknell Towers will testify to the fact that they are in constant peril of being attacked by books either stacked in teetering piles, or threatening to fall from high shelves.

Lady Bracknell estimates that thirty books will suffice to satiate her need for written entertainment for something in the region of fifteen weeks (always assuming she is not confined to her bed for an unusual length of time), and the library is scheduled to re-open in the first week of May. Should there be a shortfall, the local Oxfam shop can generally be relied upon to provide a carrier bag full of acceptable reading matter for a fairly reasonable price.

Lady Bracknell is more grateful for the head librarian's act of kindness and consideration for the effects of her physical frailties than she has the skill to adequately convey. Although it is perhaps unlikely that any of the good ladies who work at the library (or, rather, who will be working at other libraries for the next few months) will ever read these words, Lady Bracknell is nevertheless pleased to have the opportunity to share the details of her good fortune with her readers, in case their own experiences have led them to suspect that exceptional customer service is an art not so much dying as firmly deceased.

Her ladyship is also pleased to express the wish that her readers will be well, happy and industrious in 2006. She thanks all those who have commented on her blogging efforts to date (either via the comments facility, or in person), and confirms that she will endeavour to continue to entertain and amuse them in the coming twelvemonth.


Blogger The Goldfish said...

I am very pleased to hear of the helpful service her Ladyship received at the library. I know a certain Interwebnet shop-keeper who, having been badly let down by his usual courier service prior to the Christmas holidays, chose to detour to the house of a customer in order to deliver the order in person, in time for Christmas, to save his customer disappointment. It was a piece of luck indeed that such a detour meant the most timely discovery of a problem with his automobile and well, you've read the story.

May I take this opportunity to wish her Ladyship and her editor all the best for the forthcoming year.

7:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a part-time volunteer Library worker myself, I am gratified by her Ladyships' praise of the service the Public Libraries can still offer, strapped though we are for cash.

The "ways and means" Act as applied with common sense and discretion is indeed a wonderful thing.

May I take this opportunity to inform her ladyship, and anyone else who has difficulty in accessing a Pub Lib, that all authorities are obliged to offer a "housebound service" in such cases. Volunteers will deliver a set number of books to the home, usually without the normal limitation on duration of borrowing and with free reservations available, at intervals decided by the borrower. No-one need go without books, or indeed videos, audio tapes, or DVDs, although videos and DVDs usually attract a small fee per item.

I trust that her ladyship will long be spared to entertain and inform her readers.

7:43 pm  
Blogger Gimpy Mumpy said...

I've used the "housebound service" from the public libraries here in the states and it is a wonderful service. Hurray for volunteers! Really wonderful people and a truly great service.
Not only will these folks bring books (& videos) to you, but they've saved me a bundle in what would have been unavoidable late fees.

12:30 am  

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