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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Yesterday I went into a store that was having a sale. While I was there, I saw some tables that had decorative items for 50 percent off. I found two things I wanted. The sale amounted to less than $20, so I paid cash for them.

Before the salesman gave me my purchase, he demanded my name, address and telephone number. Abby, this was a cash sale. He held my purchases until I reluctantly gave him my name and address. (I steadfastly refused to give him my telephone number, since it is unlisted.)

This isn't the first time I've had this happen with a cash sale. What in the world are businesses thinking of? If I pay cash for something, why should I be obliged to give them this information? I strongly object to this practice. It is an invasion of privacy.

I would appreciate it if you would publish this letter. Businesses that do this should be aware that they may have lost any future business from this particular customer. If I must give this kind of information when I make a cash purchase, I'll shop someplace else next time. -- DISGUSTED SHOPPER, FORT MYERS, FLA.

DEAR DISGUSTED SHOPPER: Some places of business do this because they want to add your name to their mailing list. However, you are under no obligation to give personal information -- and in the future you should tell the store manager how you feel about it.

DEAR ABBY: I read the excellent letter from the Carrollton, Ga., librarian, encouraging people to ask for help at the public library. May I add another suggestion?

As a children's librarian, I wish more families would bring their kids to the library and explore all the wonderful services we have to offer them. With the current prices of family entertainment, many parents would be pleasantly surprised to discover the free materials and programs that are available at their public library.

Consider the fun of attending a puppet show and taking home books and videos, or bringing the children to an evening story-time and browsing through magazines and tapes after the program.

Mom or Dad can drop by the library after work, and in a few minutes head home with a whole evening's fun for the family.

The public library shouldn't be "the best-kept secret" in your neighborhood. Please come by and ask us what we can do for you. -- MISS JUDI IN DALLAS

DEAR MISS JUDI: Thanks for a valuable suggestion. I'm pleased to give it space in my column. Your love for your profession is reflected in every paragraph of your inspiring letter. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: Regarding the librarian who was helpful and enjoyed answering questions -- I only wish she worked in our city library.

I have never seen our librarian get out of her chair. She sighs, rolls her eyes, and gives directions by jerking her thumb over her shoulder. All this is accomplished without uttering a single word. -- STILL SEARCHING IN RICHLAND, WASH.

DEAR STILL SEARCHING: If you're still wandering through the stacks, start searching for this woman's boss and repeat what you have written to me. Your librarian needs motivation, and I hope she receives it before she drives away the people she's paid to serve.

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