21 June 2011

the library // national security

a patron called this morning to see if we had a microfiche reader with printing capabilities. after flipping the switch to see if the archaic machine still came to life, i told the patron that we had a working machine, but the printing capability was iffy, as the thermal printer hadn't been engaged in years. he said he would be in shortly.

not five minutes later, a no-nonsense ex-military man reported for microfiche duty at the reference desk. how could i tell he was ex-military? he was dressed in army green from head to toe and had a camouflage day planner.

i led him to the machine and turned it on. as i was showing him how to manipulate the magnification and glass plates, he put his hand on my shoulder and asked, "are you a citizen of the united states of america?"

my customer service smile slowly faded as i replied, "yeeessss."

"would you be willing to testify if necessary?"


"because i'm about to bring up classified documents on this reader. only citizens of the united states of america may view this information."

"well, i'm just going to show you how to work everything and then i'll leave you to it, okay? i don't need to see what you're looking at."

"but if you do see it, i need to make sure you're a citizen of the united states of america. it's a matter of national security."

"then yes, i am. i was born in ohio."

"okay, then! how does this baby work?"

after he settled in and inserted his microfiche in the reader, he realized he needed change for a dollar, so he went up to the front where we keep a cash register. and he left the classified information on the reader screen, in perfect magnification and alignment for any non-citizen of the united states of america to read.

if that's not a breach in national security, i don't know what is.

p.s. i'm kinda bummed that army guy wasn't around. i think the two would've hit if off nicely.


  1. That's wild! When I worked at the library, we had a guy who dressed in all camo who would come in every single day, monopolizing the copy machine while pulling secret documents one by one out of his enormous (also camo) duffel bag. I think he might have been a little bit off but he did bring the library a lot of revenue from that copier!

  2. your stories make TC seem like a much more interesting place, megan! lol!

  3. So ... what was it? You're from Ohio, you were allowed to look. ;)

  4. Do you know, I couldn't really tell what it was because, yes, I did try to peek. I guess he overestimated my ability to decipher military code :)

  5. Haha! I am proud of you. I would have most definitely peeked, myself.