Sunday, March 30, 2014

Seinfeld, Insurance and Library Policy

Seinfeld, Insurance, and Library Policy

I'm a big fan of the "Seinfeld" show. So much so that, to borrow a popular phrase, "(Almost) everything I quote I learned from Seinfeld". I recently used a favorite scene in reference to dealing with my insurance company. Do you remember the Seinfeld episode where he rented a car, but they didn't have the model he requested? Here it is, briefly, to refresh you memory:

Jerry: I made a reservation for a mid-size, and she’s a small. I’m kidding around, of course.
Agent: I’m sorry, we have no mid-size available at the moment.
Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?
Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.
Agent: I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to *hold* the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.
("The Alternate Side", Dec. 4, 1991)

So when I was billed recently for a visit to a Walk-in Clinic, I put it on the shelf, thinking they'd just bat it back and forth with my insurance company and settle it. No such luck. So I finally called to see what the issue was. Well, even though it was an emergency procedure, I still was supposed to get prior authorization. How's that work when you're writhing in pain? And your insurance company requires a week's notice to get that? As Jerry Seinfeld might say, " You know how to offer me insurance coverage, I just can't use the insurance coverage" or "I'm covered for emergency treatment, I just can't get it in case of an emergency".

So how does this apply to the Library? I've done a great deal of reflection this year on how I offer  library services to our students and teachers. In the past, before this enlightenment, there have been times that my students could use the above comparisons: Hey, Mrs. Penvose, you can open the library for services, you just can't offer them to us! Like using the computers, having access to all of the shelves, adhering more to my procedures than making the books available whenever I hung out the "Open" sign. I've realized that I want to have my space and services reflect that I value students and their access to books and technology. I want to show that I hope to impact student learning by what happens in our library. I want to show that, to whoever crosses the threshold of our school library, that we still need the library! Thanks to Jennifer LaGarde at for these great reminders that will help me reflect that what what happens in OUR library matters. (her Feb. 12, 2014 posting).

So will your space and procedures reflect that you can both open up for library services, along with generously sharing them with all stakeholders? I hope so. Without the relationships and stuff we offer, it's kind of pointless to say you're a librarian. So I'm hoping to continue to stay grounded in a foundation that's not about me, but by helping others be the best they can be for now and the future.