The OPL Library Bureaucratic Runaround



Why does it have to be like this?

Your agent hasn’t used his Ottawa Public Library card in a while. That’s just not right.

At the conclusion of the first episode this season of TV’s Fargo (the FX show with the blackest of black humour … they murdered a guy with a window-unit air conditioner … it’s based on a true story), the producers of the show played a great rhythm-and-blues tune. Technical wizard that I am, I Shazamed it on my phone (a program that can ID songs by just listening to a small bit of them) to discover the name of the band.

It was: Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats. Hey, it’s not my fault … I didn’t call them that.

Video above: Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats … you can start dancing now.

Your agent comes upon the idea of borrowing the CD from the OPL. Sounds good … at least at the start.

Off to the OPL site. Hotdog … there’s Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats in the collection. Yahoo.

So let’s put a hold on the CD. Easy, right? No.

The OPL website says put in your bar code and password. I’d forgotten my bar code and password.

Accordingly I clicked on “Forgot your password?” Yup.

It said for me to wait till I get an email before I reserve Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats. A few moments later … an email. Good.

I fill out the email and send it back in.

Then I go back to entering my new bar code and password. Except that I discover that my pin (Is that the password? Who’s to say?) must be numeric. I go back and change my password. Surely this will hold Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats at the Rosemount OPL branch.


The site doesn’t recognize my bar code from the library card. I try it again. The site takes it.

I go to reserve Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats. The OPL digitizer tells me my card has expired. This is a lot of work for Nathaniel Rateliff and The Night Sweats. The Night Sweats might have stopped perspiring by now.

Next your agent calls the number for the Rosemount branch from Google. A voice mail (you knew this didn’t you) tells me the number has expired. Call the new number. I did.

This gets me to the highly sophisticated OPL phone-answering service.

“Can I get the Rosemount library branch, please?”



“We try to answer your questions here before we transfer your call to the branch.”

“Okay. The OPL website says my card has expired. What do I do?”

“Go to the Rosemount branch.”

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. (That’s a deranged scream.)

This would never happen if Barbara Clubb were there.

Now at this point, as is The Bulldog tradition when bureaucratic frustration sets in, I give you the classic video below: Peter Finch from the movie Network. It always leaves me questioning my sanity but somehow I feel better after watching it.

The video is below. I won’t tell you about my travails with Rogers Cable yesterday … but I think you know how that goes.

Take it away, Peter Finch:



Ahh … that’s better.



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11 thoughts on “The OPL Library Bureaucratic Runaround

  1. Did the Library advise you that your card was going to expire? Almost all the cards that I possess that have an expiry date are provided by outfits that send me a reminder by email or snail mail a month or so before the card is to die.

  2. Your post has sent my mind a reelin’.

    1. You can get a CD at the library?

    2. Yes Fargo is a little dark but that is the best kind of show. Add Mad Men, Justified, Sons of Anarchy, Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, etc.

    3. Why bother with all that PIN, expiry date run-around — you can buy their CD at Amazon for $10, open up your wallet and let out the moths.

    4. I really like the tune.

    5. I heard of something called iTunes, maybe it’s on there too.

    6. We all know about cable but why is it that way? We once upon a time had a 100% local cable company. They came to fix stuff the same day you called and provided a time.

    I don’t need the library or the Amazon. I just listened on The Bulldog and when my son-in-law comes over I’ll ask him to put it on my laptop.

    Unfortunately my rabbit-ears stopped being useful many a decade ago.


    1. Chaz:

      “Let out the moths from my pockets.”

      There’s be cash in those pockets if I weren’t single-handedly supporting your Bulldog habit.




      1. Ken:

        I couldn’t have a better habit than The Bulldog.

        I recommend that everyone take it up. As relaxing as a game of golf and as enjoyable as my daily crossword.


  3. The OPL does not tell you that there is a expiration date for your card, nor is it printed on the card. You simply find out in the manner that Ken did or when you attempt to do checkout at the library. So, you get a new card and once again, no information regarding expiration.

    Anne Marie

  4. The barcode is on your library card and the default PIN is the last four numbers of your phone number, unless you have changed it.
    As a regular user of library services, they now automatically renew my card and advise me by email. In previous years, it did have to be renewed annually at a branch.
    Suggest one visit to your local branch to renew your card and perhaps get their direct branch email address and/or phone number.
    Hoopla, free movies, also available free with your library card on the library website.

  5. Have you renewed your library card yet Ken, or are you going to milk the inconvenience you faced a bit longer for a few more blog posts?

    1. Curiously this question comes from

      Don’t think the person sending this is supposed to be using the library email for personal reasons.

      Wonder what else they do?

      Appears they are a little sensitive to criticism.

      Also makes you wonder if your personal information is secure at the Ottawa Public Library when rules are broken like this.

      Someone at the Ottawa Public Library should be looking into who sent this email. Curious that the person didn’t sign his or her name to this. I sign my name to my material.

      I wonder if the auditor general would be interested in this?



      ps Rather than shooting the messenger and moaning about a legitimate complaint from a customer, perhaps the correct response would be to solve this bureaucratic smozzle.

      Your attitude is the kind that gives public servants a bad name. Best to fix it.

      The OPL screws up, it is brought to their attention and then it deals with the person who revealed it with a snarky demeaning attitude while using public resources for private use. Nice. k

      1. I read the original story as a tale of modern day woes and frustrations that go hand-in-hand with the impersonal nature of dealing with computers, automated telephone systems, etc.. A tale worthy of any humorist making a comment by telling a story.

        That a public employee would come back using a government address leaves me to wonder if perhaps the tale hit a little too close to home?

        1. Chaz:

          It struck me as that and that it is a not unknown attitude in the public service of the city and the OPL.

          The response also reveals a great deal of entitlement. In addition, the OPL did something wrong and your agent should be punished for illustrating it.

          This couched in a patronizing attitude that wonders if I have renewed my library card yet. I’ll renew my library card when I have time to do it or not at all … as is my choice.

          What a stupid note on so many levels.




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