The Library of Congress was open for business today for the first time since the government shutdown 17 days earlier. The security guards were in the lobby of the Madison building to scan visitors and the staff was in place to renew reader Library of Congress identifications. Everything was back to normal except the computers.
The computer which processes the information for Library of Congress Reader Identification cards was down after the two week government shutdown. The Library of Congress staff member issued a temporary card, provided a number to call to see if the system is back up, and told the present writer to come back to renew his Library of Congress identification.
The United States of America federal government offers many services that most customers take for granted. The government shutdown made the services that normally go unnoticed more obvious, for example, a man was hired to work as a contractor in a foreign country; however, he needed a clearance letter from a government agency before he could leave the country. Since the government worker was laid off during the government shutdown the man could not go to work.
Renewing licenses, applying for Social Security, registering vehicles, and enrolling children in school are all government services. The customers who hate going to the Department of Motor Vehicles, the public schools, or the Social Security office often feel powerless in a system that requires a person to take a number and wait. A famous actress in Los Angeles refused to correct erroneous information on her driver’s license because she could not bear the thought of going to the DMV.
These are customer service issues. Reopening the federal government after two weeks gave Americans a sense of what it feels like to have services taken away. Regardless of how rich an individual American happens to be; nevertheless, no single American is rich enough to afford the costs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and National Guard. Yet, without these federally funded agencies no small business, or American citizen is safe.
The Library of Congress registered and filed the first published work of the present writer in 1976. Research work at the Library of Congress gave the writer the information to publish a bestselling book in 1987. Standing in front of the Library of Congress staff member on October 17, 2013, to renew the Library of Congress identification card was an experience that most people dread because like the DMV, or any government agency, the individual becomes part of the system that every American must navigate.
It does not matter how many college degrees a person holds, or what status they might have achieved, they are required to renew their driver’s license just like the high school student. There is humility in all of this. There is the quality of saying, “I am not special. I am just like every other American. I must wait my turn.”
In a nation that prides itself on giving status and being first, being just like every other person is a bitter pill to swallow. Good customer service makes the medicine easier to take. The Library of Congress staff person was polite. The computers were down. Computer glitches happen all the time. It was not hard to understand that after 17 days it might take some time to get everything up and running again. Thank goodness, the federal government is open for business again. The Library of Congress will fix all of its computers. Life goes on.
Next up: Computer glitches and the Healthcare Marketplace.