Those who pay bills electroically cannot get library cards easily.

Those who pay bills electroically cannot get library cards easily.

610 Gallatin Pike S

Madison, TN 37115

“It’s easier to vote than borrow a book from the Library. No proof of address needed to vote. But for a library book – maybe Voter ID should be more strict or library rules loosened”

Earlier this week I went to vote at the Madison, TN Public Library, part of the Nashville Public Library system.  That was actually funny in and of itself, they couldn’t find my voter record – I’d voted there before – I had to fill out a change of address form. I was allowed to vote – not provisionally – but fully. No proof of address change required (I brought it last year, they never asked to look at it). One lady was even knitting. Not taking voters. Knitting at station 5.

I took a tour of the library and asked the information desk what was required for a library card. I was advised it would require a drivers license and piece of mail with my address on it. No mention was made of any specifics, what kind of mail, or the date.  Nada. Zip. Nothing. There are no signs posted in easy to see places.

I came back today with my city  /  municipal tax notice for Davidson County as well as an investment beneficiary update note from my retirement fund, both of which came in the mail. The lady at the desk first said ‘those look like computer printouts not mail’. I showed her they were ‘mail’ and she advised me they were too old (2013) – They had to be from this month. Technically what comes in the mail ARE computer printouts.  Few companies use printing presses anymore, they’re all computer printouts of one kind or another.  And given the nature of printing presses, even they are receiving orders from computers now a days, which could be considered ‘computer printouts’.

I advised her that nearly all my bills and mail is electronic. I did this several months ago, everything from Nashville Electric to my giving statements from various organizations to my retirement fund notices and banking information. She then asked for a check that has my address on it – I advised her I didn’t have that. (We’re in the electronic age, who uses checks anyway??!! – I advised her the only checks I do have go to a mailbox in Nashville – I could have NOT told her that but the Library wants your address, not a PO BOX in Nashville). She refused to issue me a card and said I would have to fill out a post card and mail it to my house.  But no card today. So she went to get a post card and guess what? They didn’t have one. The lady also complained the letter would cost more to mail then a post card. If I had pocket change I’d have just GIVEN her the stamp for cryin’ out loud.

The lady also ranted about how she doesn’t do electronic bill paying because they debited her account three times for one bill. That tells me there’s some discrimination at work there towards people that pay electronically – we aren’t allowed to get library cards and the library staff holds those views I offered to pull an EXACT PDF of my electric bill, the SAME thing that they mail, showing my service address. She refused. The EXACT bill just scanned in is what Nashville Electric Service offers. This seemed like a very biased statement towards my own practices of paying electronically – and basis for not issuing me use of a library card.

Now here’s the irony. According to Metro Nashville’s website: “The State of Tennessee has 289 local public libraries legally established in accordance with the Tennessee Code Annotated 10-3-101. All of these public libraries are funded by city and/or county local tax resources.” – that’s what I pay my muni and city taxes for. Only businesses pay those. There is no Nashville City or State Individual income tax to support this. So it either comes out of city / muni or local sales tax. Either way I’m paying more than most of the individuals in there. And yet I can’t get a card. How does that work?

I was showing a MUNICIPAL TAX RETURN with my pre-printed name and address on it – a document generated by the State of TN isn’t good enough for the public library??!!. I pay sales taxes as well. The only thing I don’t think I pay is excise  / franchise and real estate taxes.

The irony is that I voted. The voting staff in the other room merely required my drivers license and current address  – and filled out my change of address form (I moved here a hear and a half ago) and let me vote. Period. Not provisionally. Full voting privileges. So I can elect officials, enact or change or eliminate policy but can’t take out a book from the Library.

Nashville is a technological dinosaur and has no business turning in a report to Google Fiber to be considered a candidate for the internet giant’s ISP services if it can’t even understand that many people ‘go green’ for technology reasons, not just ‘eco reasons’ and may not have paper bills.  Nashville met it’s paperwork deadline for Google Fiber consideration. If Gail Kerr from the Tennessean were still around I’d ask for her help, we had some GREAT dialogues. I would tell Google’s boards and panels, if I could, that Nashville is a dinosaur in terms of technology and to stay away until, among other things, people aren’t getting lectures on not doing electronic payments from the Library. Try another city.

Maybe Nashville Government officials who oversee the Library system should do some homework:

White Paper from 2012 on bill paying electronically – “Mail-In Payments are Declining Rapidly” – so why does Madison TN Nashville Public Library require something from the mail such as an electric bill to get a card? Junk mail doesn’t have a date on it so that won’t work.

Does Your Demographic Decide How You Pay Bills? “Those earning higher incomes enjoy the ease of use afforded by online bill payments and are more inclined to “automate” their entire lifestyle. Their “life” is in their smart phone, so why should their finances be any different?” – so does this mean higher incomes aren’t welcome to get a library card at the Madison TN Nashville Public Library?? – We are asked to donate to support libraries but ourselves can’t get library cards? 

In the end, I filled out an ENVELOPE they are going to mail me so I can get a card. But the irony and discriminatory behavior still stands for today and indeed for ANYONE embracing the 21st century and doing utilities and other notices electronically.  They are unable to get a Library Card.  If Metro Nashville considers themselves technology friendly enough to get Google Fiber, they should think again. The lady complained the envelope was more expensive than a post card. Really??!!  You could have just taken  my State of TN documentation and been done with it. Saved yourself the postage.  But it would have gone against the agenda of being against electronic payments – so I guess they’ll spend YOUR tax payer dollars and donations on stamps wastefully.

The IRS and State of TN both consider PDF’s in the case of audits and inquiries. I recently answered an inquiry about “Franchise / Excise” tax status for a non profit I administrated – by responding to the State of TN with a PDF  of a document from the Secretary of State of TN’s office (Tre Harget) showing the exempt status from this tax. Why woudn’t the library take either a PDF of my electric bill printed out (they objected to my ‘printouts which were not printouts that I already had) or a STATE OF TN Document showing my address for business tax purposes.  And why the rant against electronic payments? I sense an agenda here. One not friendly to technology – which Google Fiber should consider – and pass over Nashville.

I wanted to take out “National Geographic – Science of Cats” and watch it tonight. Now  I am home and there is no DVD to watch. Why? Because I choose to conserve paper incoming and outgoing.