Thursday, 14 December 2006

Man Picks Nose

This week's venerable Straits Times featured an expose of bad behavior in public libraries. The lurid piece of journalism, complete with pixelated photographs, described no-nos such as ear digging, nose picking and feet on chairs. Moving up the disgusting scale was beard plucking while reading a newspaper.

Which got me thinking about the behaviors that disturbed (tho' not necessarily disgusted) me on my last visit to the excellent Sembawang facility:

  1. Mobile phones. Separating a Singaporean from their mobile would be classed as cruel and unusual punsihment, if you could achieve it. It just doesn't matter where people are, if the phone rings, it gets answered

  2. Kids playing combat video game on the public computers. Actually, they were doing a very good job of keeping a boisterous activity pretty quiet, but still, video killing game in a library?

  3. People sprawled on the floor between bookshelves as there aren't really enough chairs and very few tables. It's common for school children to use libraries as a cool (ie aircon'd) place to work. But it's hard to browse when you can't walk on the floor

  4. Tannoy recorded annoucements exhorting quiet and peaceful use of the facility. D'oh.

Not exactly a Little Shop of Horrors. All libraries I have visited were cool, fairly quiet and exceedingly well run. Book checkout is self-serve using your library card and a chip reader. Returns are fully automatic; just slide the book down the chute at the entrance and the book's chip is read and marked as returned. Payments and fines are cashless using your EZ Link card (train & bus rfid card). Book searches and renewals are online and they stay open until late.

If you want social faux pas, it would be the old lady sat next to me on the MRT using nail clippers to methodically depilate the back of her hands, complete with squeaky sound effects.

The ST article was a lightweight poke at petty rudeness and an attempt to shame into extinction some social errors. It almost certainly missed the mark. The stunningly successful, free, Chinese-language My Paper has the mass readership and has, arguably, taken over as the people's paper.