Is Petitioning For Change “Un-Christlike”?

*UPDATE: See the outcome of my petition here.

I recently posted on my Smockity Frocks Facebook page that I was shocked to find out that the library we frequent has a “household checkout limit” which means our family can only check out 30 books at a time.

I pointed out over and over again on my Facebook page and to the library director that for our large family of 10, each person can only get 3 books. While 3 books may be a fine number for a kindergartener to check out, my older children can go through 3 books in a matter of 2 days time.

Since the library director disagreed with my point of view, I decided to make an appointment to speak with the library advisory board to see if I could compel them to lift the household checkout limit and simply go with a per-patron limit like all the surrounding libraries in our area have.

What surprised me most about this whole undertaking is the opinion that my petitioning for change is “selfish”, “un-Christlike”, “unfair”, and “greedy”.

I honestly don’t see how wanting an equal number of books for all patrons can be greedy, unfair, or selfish, but what took me most by surprise was the “un-Christlike” assertion.

I tried very hard to make sure that my appeal was respectful, fact-filled, and unemotional. I asked my husband and children to record me ahead of time and preview my speech so I would not be seen as sarcastic or mocking. (I do have a very strong sarcastic tendency, and sometimes I come across as sarcastic when I don’t intend it.)

If appealing for fair change at the library is “un-Christlike” wouldn’t that same charge have to be made to Americans revolting against British rule in the 1700′s? What about changing slavery laws? Suffrage?

Women would not be voting today if no one had petitioned for a fair change in that law.

I don’t think standing up for fairness is un-Christlike. I will stand up for my children this day and again the next if necessary. That isn’t un-Christlike.

Mama Bear like, maybe.

Here is a very shaky video taken by my 10 year old on my iPhone and interrupted by a call from the 12 year old trying to tell us the goats got into the garden! I was speaking furiously fast because I was quite nervous to get all my facts in before my 3 minute time limit was up, and I even had to stop my 4 year old from climbing a stack of chairs during the middle of the speech! I got it all in, though! (Can you tell where I had to make her get down?)

I was told that the library advisory board would review my information and contact me with their decision.

What do you think? Is asking for fairness selfish or un-Christlike?

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Comments

  1. I don’t think asking for fairness is un-Christlike at all! You seemed very calm and collective on the video. Nothing wrong with that! I think you went about it the best way possible!

  2. We are also a large family (14 kids), and there are times when you must advocate to meet the of your family that the majority of people do not understand. It’s extra work. Recently, we were asked by our local Sonic (fast food drive-thru) to please call our orders in 10-15 minutes ahead. We do this as a courtesy to the restaurant and the other customers. Is it convenient? No. Do we still have to wait when we get there? Yes. But, it’s what we do as a large family. Your kids read books. Great! Most don’t want to. I would think that an institution such as a library would also advocate for your children to read, without children wanting to read they would go out of business eventually, and your children are going to raise the next generation of readers. You would think with the explosion of kindles and nooks that they would be cheering on your cause because you KNOW they lost some business. So, no, you are not greedy for wanting your children to have the ability to have access to books from their public library. You are not un-Christlike for advocating to meet the needs of your kids. You are raising knowledge seeking, literate, educated children that will have a positive impact on society and raise future generations to do the same. Your library has an issue, and I would do exactly what you are doing. If the library advisory board declines your request I would take it another step to the mayor, or governor…which ever position runs the institution. Carry on Connie! Head held high! You are doing a great job and you’re a great example to moms!!

  3. Kristie says:

    I have actually been following your facebook saga. I was not going to post there because it would have at that time been “unChristlike”. I do not understand the policy at your library. However, the issue at hand is that you see something as unfair to your family and most likely a host of others. I don’t believe that standing up and petitioning/asking for a change in policy is selfish. I mean maybe if you were asking for the exception for just your family and you only wanted special treatment for your family that could be seen as selfish. Someone has to speak up for anything to change. I keep thinking what a great oppertunity this is for showing your children how to stand up for something important no matter how big or small. ps I could not understand how some were saying you were selfish?? Did I miss you saying you wanted ALL those books for just your kids ???

  4. Denise G. says:

    Great job! You did very well presenting your case and maintaining a calm , straightforward demeanor even when you had to stop your 4 year old from climbing on the chairs. Bravo!
    Petitioning is only un-Christlike when it is done in an un-Christlike manner, which you definitely did not have.

  5. You did GREAT, Connie! :) Way to go!

  6. Your presentation was great! I don’t understand why it would be considered un-Christlike to try and change something, as long as it’s done with a Christlike attitude. Is it selfish and greedy for non-believers to try and change things? Are Christians supposed to sit idly by?

    Well done!

  7. Bravo. Great presentation! I have seen the Facebook stuff and saying that what you have done by voicing your concerns and opinions is “unChrist-like” is just plain old silly. Don’t even give that non sense a second thought.

    I especially thought the part where you were showing them the way your library averages with similar libraries was great. Our library is in a small town and we I think have a 50 book policy for each person. And 5 DVD or other kind of media limit per person.

    Good for you, Mama! You saw a need and did something about it. Even if it changes nothing in regards to the library policy there–your sweeties got to watch their Mama stand up for them and for what she believed and THAT is worth it all!!

  8. The only thing I could guess from the Facebook postings was that people assumed you were asking for an exception (for your family), not a change in policy. There’s nothing wrong with changing policies–it’s generally very good. The library is a public institution that isn’t meeting the needs of the people it serves. Respectfully asking for change is nothing but positive.

  9. There is nothing wrong with asking for something. I do not see that your request was unChrist like nor selfish. You have a large family and your family likes to read. I think it would only be fair to have a “per patron” limit instead. For a family of 2, they can have 15 books each. Seems only fair to do it this way. I think you are doing right by trying to stand up for you family.

  10. You know, I can usually find a spiritual angle for just about anything, but I’m having a hard time figuring out how anybody can drag Jesus into this one. A library has a policy poorly suited to the needs of, not just your family, but a lot of families. Asking them to change that just makes sense. I guess your attitude might be something that could be Christian or not, but merely asking for a change in across the board policy? I’d think you’d have a right to do that as much as anybody else.

  11. I was once slightly upset with my community college library because they wouldn’t let me check out more than thirty books myself. So a family limit of 30 seems quite low to me. I wanted to check out about 40 books at once so I could begin my research for my3 huge honor’s program papers, which each had to have 10 or more sources. I didn’t end up petitioning or anything because I didn’t need many books on a regular basis, but I thought it rather absurd that they were giving me a hard time about checking out books, when most students hardly ever used the library at all.

    Also as a kid my mom had a teacher’s card, which our library granted to home school moms, and as a family there are several times I can remember checking out well over 100 books, and that was for a family with only 2 kids. So I had never really thought about lending limits until college.

    Now that we are on the other side of the world, I miss going to the library, but am thankful for the abundance of books available online.

  12. It seems to me that “un-christian” gets thrown around a lot when it happens to be the way that makes waves. It’s not the easy way. I fail to see why the Lord would not want you informing a library that their policies should be reviewed. That’s like me getting terrible service at a restaurant, and because I’m christian, I don’t inform the manager of the problems.

    Iron sharpens iron, and how would they know they have a problem if people hold their tongues?

    • Kat Menard says:

      This is my thought as well. If the library’s policies are not in line with the other libraries in your area, they need to know that. They also need to know when said policies affect their patrons negatively.

  13. Jennifer Haddow says:

    I just want to say that I think a per patron limit is reasonable, although I do think that some of the limits I have read about here or ont your FB saga (or desires for high limits) are unreasonable. If someone needs 30 or more books for research, they should spend some time in the library doing it, so they don’t need to check out as many books. What if another student wanted to research the same topic (I had to change my research topic a couple times in college because someone else had already checked out all the books, so I know what I am talking about)?

    I know I am in the minority on library limits, but libraries are not in “business” of checking out as many books as they can. They are in the business of having as many people as they can read books.

    That said, I think a limit per patron makes things “fair” for families of all sizes, and you are not being unreasonable or un-Christlike in trying to change that in your library.

    I know my opinion may not have much worth on your blog because I only have one child, but there it is.

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      Jennifer, Have I ever said that opinions of single child families are worthless? I can’t remember doing so.

      • Jennifer Haddow says:

        I didn’t mean to offend. That last comment was said (in my head) tongue in cheek. I realize it may have read as sarcastic, but that was not my intention. I love reading about your large family; otherwise I wouldn’t read your blog. I just thought everyone might think I was strange for having one child and reading a blog about a large family.

        • Smockity Frocks says:

          Thanks, Jennifer. I wasn’t offended at all and I don’t think it’s strange that you read here. :)

    • Wow, where did that come from?

      • Jennifer Haddow says:

        i’m not sure what you mean by that, unless you are trying to be sarcastic. In that case, please see my reply to Smockity above.

  14. Great job on the video! You were calm and respectful. I hope your library listens to you – your request is certainly reasonable. We are very blessed with our library system here in Prince Edward Island. I have an educator’s card (because we homeschool) that I can use to check out 40 items and my husband and I each have a personal card that we can use to EACH check out 25 items. As far as I know, there isn’t a household limit. We only have 2 children and only one is reading independently, but we usually have a lot of library books out at any given time. :)

  15. Natalie says:

    I don’t think change is un-Christlike. In fact, God wants us to keep changing, toward the mark of perfection in Him. About the library issue, we live so close to the library that we can go several times a week if we like. Unfortunately, our library is part of a huge county system, and there are only a few books of each title for the entire 20+libraries. So, I’ve actually been going to about 1-2 library book sales every year (we volunteer there), and I come home with boxes of amazing old books. Now that we may be moving South in a year, I’ve begun packing the books in boxes as I get boxes. We’ve got about a bathroom size of boxes of books! We have 6 children, and 2 of them read, while the 3rd & 4th are just beginning. I look at buying the old books as investment toward my children’s future. Especially since a lot of libraries that I’ve seen do not even carry the old classics & “goodies” anymore.

    I would petition the library system nicely, but begin buying books at yard sales and library sales. We have a 3-bedroom house but found neat ways of using bookshelves to make more bedrooms….I love finding efficient ways of using things to make our house feel bigger. You can also put shelving up near the ceiling so you can use space underneath. I know the library is easier to go get books, but like I said the areas where we live, the libraries are pretty bare.

  16. You totally rock! I love the presentation with the flip chart and so many facts! I don’t think this is “un-Christlike” at all. Have people forgotten when Jesus forced money changers out of temple? Sometimes God calls us to stand up for what is right. Way to go standing up for your children’s right to read! We live in South Africa and my two boys – 2.5 yo and 14 months – both have library cards (linked to mine of course) and can check out 5 books each. I think the limit goes up as they get older.

  17. Marilyn says:

    I thought your presentation was very Christ-like and you were well prepared. Go Connie!

  18. Why are you doing this? So your children have an appropriate level of access to information (as well as reducing environmental impact from trips to the library).

    How are you doing this? By explaining to the people in charge how their policy is affecting the lives of the people whom their mission is to serve, and providing a suggestion as to how they can improve implementing that mission (serving the people of their community).

    Just because people want “unChristlike” to mean something bizarre (I can’t even figure out what they think it means in this context) doesn’t just make it so.

  19. Definately not un-Christ like! Well, except that He turned over tables when he didn’t agree with the money changers in the temple! hehe. You were polite, calm, and well prepared.

  20. I’m with you on being frustrated on a 30 book limit :( I’ve been asking our local library to let homeschoolers (and other teachers) have a teacher’s card. Two other near by libraries (one you have to reside in the county, the other offers them to any and all teachers) offer special privileges for teachers, such as 6 week check outs, renewal of another 6 weeks twice, as well as no fines! My local library told me they can’t do it because it would limit the non teacher patrons to what they could check out – my county has one main branch and 4 branches – there is no way that allowing a teacher’s card would limit others – considering the fact the library I borrow from using my teacher’s card is small with only one branch! I was told by one librarian “you think you and homeschoolers should get special privileges? You’re not special” I politely said no I don’t think we are special and I’m not just advocating for just homeschoolers but for all teachers in the county. I was then told I am not really a teacher LOL Unfortunately there aren’t any meetings where I can plead my case like you can. I don’t think it’s un-Christlike, in fact remember He went into the Temple and over turned tables and yelled and used a whip – I’d say He was emphatic about change. BTW: your points about slavery and such is a very good example, however most women who went up for suffrage were not Christian or had a very different idea of Christianity than that of the Bible JMHO.

  21. It is not un-Christlike to my knowledge to respectfully ask for a change in rules from an authority. It would be un-Christlike to steal the books, to yell at the librarians, or make up a fictitious new family in order to check out more books. However, I completely understand a desire for more books as between myself and my two homeschooling children, we often check out 15-20 books for a 2 week period. I hope you are successful!

  22. Debra G says:

    I don’t think it’s un-Christlike at all. Some people have nothing better to do than judge others. I’m just wondering if those people have read their Bibles lately.

  23. I have been very frustrated at stores that limit me to 1-2 of some thing on sale for our large family while a single person has the same access. I am motivated by your case to prayerfully petition in a like manner.

    • I can understand how frustration that can be even though I have a small family. I often shop for family members when I do my own shopping and limits can be annoying.

      I have taken to making multiple transactions when I have the kids with me. I figure that if my child is old enough to ask for the item, put it on the check out belt and hand the cashier $ for the purchase then they are old enough to be considered a patron. Obviously this doesn’t apply to the rare items that might have age purchase restrictions. Most stores don’t have an issue with this and the few that have ended up allowing the transation when they couldn’t produce a company policy that stated an age requirement.

  24. I missed the Facebook drama over this situation, though from what I have read in this post and seen from your video cannot see how any of it is un-Christ like.

    While I understand that libraries do need to have lending policies in place to give all patrons equal access and protect their materials from loss and theft, these policies shouldn’t penalize large families.

    I feel book policies should be the same for each patron unless there has been an obvious violation of policy or disreguard of the materials. I could understand having family limits on some materials like cds or dvds.

    I am not sure on a book limit at our local library though do know that they have an 8 dvd per family per day limit, you can have more then 8 dvds out at a time by coming in the next day to get more. This seems reasonable as dvds are something that can be viewed by multiple family members at one time and most libraries have fewer dvds the books.

    It is interesting to hear how different library policies can be concerning library cards and lending policies. Growing up you could get your own card when you were 5yrs old and could write your own name. Recently they changed the policy so even babies could get their own card. You also use to have to get individual cards for each library system you used, where as now you can use the same card state wide in the public library system.

  25. Wow! I would hate for that to happen. Growing up I would check out up to 12 books at a time!! Chapter books!! Long books!! I was always readig and always carry a book with me. I read e books but much prefer the real thing lol. I can’t imagine having a library tell me I can only check out so many. Actually no, I think in central FL there was like a 100 book limit or something like that. A number most people would not reach. Lol. A per household just makes it even more… Well… Ridiculous. This bibliophile is kind of angry that they would limit you when your tax dollars are paying for it!!! *sigh* okay. Time to calm down about it lol. Hope things change for you guys because while in most 3 or 4 person families a 30 book limit may not be too bad, it can really make it difficult for larger families. Hope you can get this change and I will pray for your efforts!!!

  26. I know that I am just echoing many others when I say that I think you have handled your request in a Christlike manner. It seems as though the people who called your request selfish or unreasonable might not be thinking about this from the perspective of a large homeschooling family or might even be thinking that you are requesting this as an exception for only your family.
    While I don’t think that libraries are becoming obsolete or that the written word is “dying” as some have claimed, I do think that libraries want to know what their patrons need. The only way for them to be able to serve you is for you to tell them about your situation and the problems that you are having. I’m sure that you are not the only homeschooling family in your area, so you are helping many others by asking for this change.

  27. I agree with the per patron being a more fair way to go then the per household rule. Doesn’t everyone deserve to be able to enjoy the library equally? Why should someone be penalized for living in a large household? That’s just plain silly!

    I mean, what about when children grow up and move out? Assuming that they live in the same area, they can now check out 30 books all to themselves, but only because they live in a different house then the rest of their family? Hmm, maybe it’s about tax revenue . . .

  28. Definitely not selfish!

  29. Jennifer says:

    As an Atheist, I think if the most un-Christlike thing you are doing is asking for more books, in a nice and considerate way, then many Christians could learn a lot about Christlike ways from you.

  30. Donna McPherson says:

    Do you plan on stealing or damaging the books because that would be un-Christian like, just kidding, I promise. I thought you did an excellent job. Why spend all that gas for 3 books a kid and go every day or every other day.

    I was an English major and I changed my topic more times that I can count because the topic I chose was taken. On some books at our public libray you have a shorter time to keep the book. For example, new or popular books may only be 7 days if they do not have that book you place a hold on that book and when your time comes they email you.
    I say you go girl. We stated and kudos for the courage to do it.

  31. Mama Martin says:

    It is not wrong to ask a question – especially since you have thought this through very carefully. You have good motives, not evil ones. If someone makes you the problem because you ask a question, there is something hidden that should be out in the open.

  32. Well done, Smockity! You are right: if it was in-Christlike to advocate for change, then nothing would have changed in the first 150 or so years of our nation’s history. I think you gave a perfect example addressing a problem and suggesting a solution in a reasonable, logical, and respectful manner.

    Way to go!

  33. Quick question- So if your husband doesn’t check out books weekly from the library (assuming he’s too busy for that), can’t Madison get his share giving her 6 books then?? I’m assuming your baby doesn’t also check out books. Isn’t giving their share to another one of your children a way to increase a more rapid reader’s book allotment? How would they ever know whose books are whose? Also, I’m assuming some of your younger girls would like the same books and could just pass them along when finished. Am I missing something?

  34. We have a small family, so I don’t have this problem, BUT I totally understand your frustration. I think your objection to the “family limit” is fair. I don’t think you’ve approached this in an un-Christlike manner at all. With checking out many books at once, I would just be sure to return them on time. I hate being next on the list for a book and somebody keeping it well past the due date. Of course that applies to everybody, not just larger families! (…maybe I need to work on having some patience!)

  35. Hi Connie,
    Back in 2001 my husband took a job promotion which required a move to a new state. We left our big town of about 50,000 people that had a wonderful library to move to a small town with a small library. I was not upset, I grew up in a small town and loved my little library. I was so excited. I took my 3 girls and we drove to the library and went in and I told the librarian we were new in town and needed a library card. The librarian gave me a strange look and gave me an application to fill out. Then she got out her typewriter and made me a library card. That’s right no computers! She handed me my card and told me, “You can check out 1 book and we’ll see how you do with it.” I couldn’t believe it. Only 1 book. We checked out one book for a few weeks then she moved us up to 5 books! How exciting 5 books for my whole family! Yes, I’m being sarcastic. Anyway, though I think it’s great that you are trying to bring about change in your library, please remember if you don’t get what you’ve asked for 30 books is definitely better than 1 or 5.
    Hugs to you.

  36. I think it’s great that you are making your voice heard.

    The per household limit could be due to a desire to keep materials available to others (in that case, a per person limit would be more fair). Or, it could have to do with responsibility and ability to pay in the case of lost materials. I know our library has to use a collection agency because people abuse the system and just keep the books (and especially DVDs) or try to ignore mounting fines. In this case, a per household limit makes more sense because then it limits the materials each responsible (or irresponsible) adult has access to at a time.

    Maybe it could be contingent on track record, prompt payment of fines in the past, or similar?

  37. Slate Creek says:

    Our local library has a per-patron limit, but children are limited to only 5 items at a time. My 9 YO reads about 500 WPM and 5 books do NOT last her the week!

  38. un-Christlike to appeal?
    The poor widow appealed with importunity to the judge in the New Testament.
    The Psalmist, David, appealed to God to “plead my cause.”
    Christ is our advocate.

    I was just catching up with blogs in my reader when I noticed your posts on this — I am sorry people have spoken to you in this way.
    As a librarian, I love it when people want to READ. We have a checkout limit for the sake of helping children be able to keep track of their materials; however, there’s a handy-dandy feature in all library databases that allows the clerk to OVERRIDE the checkout limit & I use it frequently — “LET THEM READ BOOKS!”
    I think that quote is attributed to Marie Antoinette, when the French peasants were crying for books in the streets of Paris ;)

  39. Found you via Pinterest and started clicking around. This post re-ignited the fire for me to contact our local library. We haven’t used our library for close to a year. It used to cost us $25 for a 6 month “membership” but they raised it to $50, while also cutting the number of books you could check-out in half. $100 a year for a library card is insane. My kids used to read a dozen + books a week… not anymore. That needs to change.

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