By Marcus Dysch
September 16, 2010
Larry David would struggle to make this up.
You may recall the rather unfortunate story I reported on a few weeks ago regarding the case of Mr Eugene Linder.
This was the gentleman in Switzerland battling against the interminable delaying tactics of the Finnish authorities in an attempt to have his late mother re-interred in Basel.
It seems Mr Linder has now found himself in a subsequent spot of bother closer to home – he has been banned from using his local library in Aarau, between Basel and Zurich.
A letter from the library authorities alleges a number of infringements of the institution’s policies, including, it would appear, wearing shoes that gather soil on their soles, and wheeling a shopping basket around, damaging the floor in the process.
Mr Linder has kindly sent me the original letters of complaint from the library, and I have attempted to outline the more ‘interesting’ sections here. Please forgive any incomprehensible sentences – my German skills are not what they were when I completed my A Level in the language nine years ago, nor is Google Translate the most reliable of translators.
Anyway you’ll get the idea. First up are sections of the library’s letters, followed by Mr Linder’s various arguments against the authorities’ allegations…
Dear Mr Linder
Our letter of August 25 made you aware of separate infringements and other violations and you were asked to refrain from them in future and/or follow the instructions of our staff.
Since receipt of the letter you have again violated library rules and the instructions of employees.
Despite a written request you have, on September 3, taken your cart [Marcus' note - I’m imagining it’s one of those mini shopping baskets on wheels] into the library. There is evidence of floor damage.
Annette Rusch, Head of Information and Usage, gave evidence that you used the cart in the vestibule.
You were excessively loud and threatened to call the police. Your behaviour has threatened and harassed other users.
A few minutes after this incident you entered, without being asked, the Office of the Director of Use and Information. As you admitted, this is a non-public space and you refused to leave.
On this day, contaminated soil was brought into the library on your shoes.
As previously addressed, your shoes create lasting damage to the floor lining. This means it needs to be cleaned every day to remove grinding marks.
Thanks to these documented violations of our Acceptable Use Policy, we have the right, with immediate effect, to permanently remove you from the library premises and issue a house ban.
With immediate effect E Linder’s right of use of Aargau library is permanently removed.
Ruth Wuest, Library director
And now sections of Mr Linder’s responses, dissecting the allegations
- My shoes are made by Meindl, a well-known German company, which makes it in their opinion highly unlikely that the shoes can cause damage to a standard floor.
- [In response to claims he takes up too much room in the library] While it is true that I am slightly taller than your average visitor I cannot even imagine in which position my body is when I am sitting at the desk. Staff members are free to take a ruler and to measure my – stop laughing – "occupied space".
- You declined my invitation to sit down and have a relaxed and business-like discussion and kept me standing for some fifteen minutes.
- It is true that officials, including naturally cultured directors of libraries, should behave within the norms accepted in a civilized society. It is certainly not asking too much to expect that a director offer a chair and a glass of water to an elderly person.
- On every day I am at the library there are about two to five interruptions in the performance of the [internet] router and the staff has to do the following: a) take a ladder, b) carry it to the router box, c) unlock and open the door to the box, d) climb the ladder, e) switch off the router, f) wait for ten minutes, g) climb the ladder again, h) switch the router on, i) lock the door. Thereafter they tell me that a) the blue lights are twinkling again, which is a good sign, and b) I have only to wait another five minutes for the internet feed to become normal again.
- The regular visitors to the library are saying that this kind of technical malfunction has been going on for two years at least. It is to be expected that in terms of both the service the library provides and the additional and unwarranted burden on your staff this problem should have been solved a long time ago, particularly since it is clear that the router should be changed and the current cost of a new router is quite low.
- You have heard from someone that my backpack with books and my trolley have damaged the floor in the library but you very kindly decided not to charge me for the damage thus caused. My comment: When using a facility the visitors can cause some inadvertent damage. This is called "wear and tear" and for this reason the public libraries have budget allocations for repairs and maintenance. If the damage is excessive then it is quite reasonable to ask the visitor involved to bear the expenses. The library is kindly requested to send to me an itemized invoice regarding the alleged damage. Usually I take full responsibility for my words and actions and this case is no exception. However, I hope you will not mind complying with my two friendly recommendations:
a) Please issue the invoice IMMEDIATELY since with the passage of time other visitors may cause damage to your property too. While I am not against charitable contributions to your library I am afraid it may exceed my financial capabilities.
b) I would be grateful for your providing written evidence as to when and how the damage was caused. I hope for your understanding that your failure to do it could be regarded as an attempt at unjustified enrichment on the part of the library.
I could contine with further excerpts from the letters that have gone back and forth, but I think you get the idea.
As someone who is quite happy to argue over even the most minute and trivial of issues with any company/authority/organisation, I salute Mr Linder’s efforts and hope he is soon readmitted to the library.