Patron does not exist.

220px-boston_public_library_reading_room

Reading room at the Boston Public Library

This week my very existence was not just called into question–it was flat-out denied. How did this happen, you wonder? Let me tell you a story.

There I was, logging onto the Boston Public Library website with my electronic library card so I could finish reading the scene in my ebook where the detective figures out how the foul deed was done. My card number and pin autofilled, as they always do, but what popped up was not the ebook mystery I was reading. Instead, I was faced with this bold declaration:

(0) Patron does not exist.

 Time for an exist-ential crisis? No. Time for a little sleuthing of my own.

I retraced my steps back to the carefree time (two and a half hours before) when I could put in my library card number, and the library would let me read my book. I had been antisocially reading on El Guapo’s phone while he  was artistically schmoozing with other artist-types at the opening reception for the latest “Art on the Marquee” show at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center.* Ninja, meanwhile, was cheerfully availing himself of the make-your-own sundae fixings.

El Guapo’s latest Marquee video is well suited to the giant screen, and made quite a colorful splash. Take a look before we go in search of more clues.

A post shared by Jon Forsyth (@videojester) on

 

As I am a champion errand grouper, whenever we take a trip into Boston I consult my list of other things that can be done there, but that don’t merit their own separate trip. On the top of that list was getting Ninja a Boston Public Library card.

bpl_logo

Accordingly, we figured out where, and we figured out how. Once inside the imposing building, the process took all of three minutes. As an afterthought I asked Mr. Library Guy about getting a physical card for myself, and learned that my town library card could be entered into the system, the work of two more minutes.

Having retraced my steps, we’re now back at home, with me getting ready for bed, wanting to log in to read the climax of the mystery novel, only to be met with this other mystery about me not existing. Can you spot what happened?

Apparently, when Mr. Library Guy authorized my town’s library card for use at the BPL, he deleted my electronic card and everything connected thereunto. That meant that any and all books that had been checked out by me went wheeling off into the electronic stratosphere, and the website determined that I did not exist.

I wonder who writes the error code messages. Who decided to say “Patron does not exist” instead of “I don’t recognize this number”?

In any event, I was glad to get to the bottom of the library mystery, even if I had to wait a bit to get access to the original literary mystery.† Unlike Dorothy Sayers’ tale, my mystery was not complicated–there were very few suspects, and the trail was fresh. If only all the tech-related bamboozling that I run into were as easy to untangle!

pd4pic

 

*El Guapo has won a place in two previous shows, found here at Evening Traffic and Dancing at Saint-Rémy.

†When I was lamenting to El Guapo about being left hanging, he asked if there was a butler in the story–you can guess what he was going to advance as a theory.

[Images: Wikipedia, El Guapo, pd4pic.com]

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