Wednesday, May 26, 2010

15 Things Your Librarian Won't Tell You

You know, I actually love my job and rarely have any problems with it or with the people I help. I've actually gotten a lot of compliments on my jewelry. :) But sometimes there's that one person or that one problem that just stick out. And here are a few.

1. There are four people ahead of you in line. One of them has a screaming child. One a gigantic stack of books. There is only one librarian able to help right then. The very first thing we need from you before we can do anything is your library card. Why do you wait until you are at the desk before you start digging through your purse and pockets to find it?

2. No card, no checkout. Period. Would you go to the grocery store, bring up a cart of stuff, and say, "Oh, I left my credit card at home, can't you just use my driver's license or something?". Yeah. Didn't think so.

3. Whatever problem you have is likely not my fault, so stop glaring at me. All I can do is exactly what I say I can do, and then I pass you off to my supervisor. Then they get to deal with you. Which is why they get paid more.

4. Do you know how long it takes to put a cart of books away? Do you know that every time you or your children just pull random books off the shelves, look at them for 2 seconds, then just stick them wherever you think they go or to the sides of the bookends, makes that job two times as difficult? If you pull out a book, PUT IT BACK WHERE IT GOES. Or, if that proves too challenging for you, bring it to the desk so we can do it for you and get it back in the correct spot.

5. We have an astonishing amount of material in a library. There is no way we would ever be able to read, listen to, or watch all of it, especially since only about 3/4 to 2/3 of our entire collection is actually on our shelves. The rest of it is checked out. So if you come to us with no title and no author, the odds are not in your favor that we will magically be able to figure out which book you want by you describing the cover or the plot.

6. You remember the first time you saw your teacher in public and realized they weren't permanent fixtures in the classroom but were real people? We get a giggle when people that we've helped in the library do a double take when they see us somewhere else. "Wait, was that the librarian I just saw at Walmart? Weird!!!" Yes, we remember you. Yes, we're laughing at the triple take you just did when we walked past, just to make sure you weren't seeing things.

7. Control. Your. Offspring. Do NOT ditch your kids in the children's section while you go off to the adult section to browse. We are not babysitters, and we will come find you. Do not let them pull dozens of books off the shelves. Do not let them kamikaze leap off the chairs. Do not let them screw around with the handicap door openers. Do not let them have waterfights in the drinking fountain. Do not let them color on the computer screens with the pencils we provide for your convenience. Control. Your. Offspring.

8. Sorry honey, but you are not special enough for me to go against policy to help you with something that "really isn't your fault" or "was a misunderstanding". You turned in books late. You have a $3.00 fine. Man up, pay the stupid fine, it's your fault you have it. It's $3.00! You are acting like it's $100. Grow up. And yes, you are responsible for your kids too. This is why we require you to sign them up for a card.

9. It is completely true that sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes when we are checking books in the barcode does not scan all the way and it doesn't check in. We do not always catch this, and sometimes we shelve the books. When this happens and you realize that you have an overdue book you remember turning in, we will do everything to find it. And if we find it on our shelves, it's our bad, we don't bill you for it. But do you have any idea how many people insist and swear on a stack of bibles that they turned that book in, demanding that we find out where we put it, only to show up a few months later with that very same book they swear they turned in? If it's our fault, we'll find it. But until we do, we will always assume that it's at your house, under your couch, collecting dust. And you know what? It probably is.

10. You don't have to whisper in libraries anymore. Quiet is appreciated, of course, but you don't have to remain silent unless you're in the study room where it is written on the door that no talking is allowed. That does not mean, however, that you may have a loud cell phone conversation while you're browsing through the stacks. You may not let your kids run screaming through the aisles. And when your baby starts wailing because it's nap time or lunch time, quit looking for more books and take the poor kid home! We'll still be here tomorrow, I promise.

11. I am more than happy to help you locate a book. I am also more than happy, when no one else is waiting for my help, to have a conversation with you. I'm a real person, I like talking to other people, and I love it when you treat me like one. Please just be considerate of other people that may also need my help. But if you want to hang around and talk to me when I'm free, be my guest.

12. We have regulars, too. We have the older guys who come in just about every day to get a new movie or book. We have the crotchety old lady who gets the maximum amount of CD's, keeps them as long as she possibly can, then gripes and grouches when she has to return them. We have at least 10 families that we know by name (although you may not know we remember you) that always get the enormous, and I do mean enormous, stack of books. We have the newly-arrived foreigner that can barely speak English but still comes in every day. We have the ones that love to talk. We have the ones that are always grouchy. We have the ones that put TONS of items on hold at once. We have the kids that we know will leave a disaster in their wake. We remember you.

13. We HATE IT when you come in two minutes before we close to drop something off or pick something up and tell us you'll "only be a minute". The only exception to this rule is when you really will only be in there for a minute. But when you come in, drop of a big pile of stuff, then go browse around at a leisurely pace, we get very annoyed. And we will bug you until you leave, so don't get miffed at us if it seems like we're stalking and watching you, because we are. We're closed. We're tired. We want to go home. Stop moseying and get out.

14. We are probably some of the most courteous people you'll ever deal with. We find your books with a smile, clean the mysterious sticky subtance off books without flinching (most of the time), help you pack your books back into your bag, if you ask we would even be happy to help you out to your car. Please be nice to us. We will remember if you are. And if you aren't. And even though we smile at everybody, if we remember you as one of the "good ones", we will go the extra mile for you.

15. If we are trying to explain something to you and it's not making sense, just let us know. We won't take offense. We know this stuff like the backs of our hands, but we were confused the first time it was explained to us too. Feel free to ask questions, that's what we're there for. And if we're doing a good job, or we really helped you with something, please pass on the word to our supervisor. We get evaluated every year and the more compliments we get on doing a good job, the better our job security.

I hope this gives you a good look into the life of a librarian. I actually love it, I get to see all the really good books that no one ever sees just glancing over the titles. Do you have any idea how much cool stuff there is in the nonfiction section? Books on tattoo art, language books, pregnancy books, cartoon books, drawing books, DIY house project books, travel books, animal books, just everything! It's so cool! And there are so many fiction authors, and we know which ones are really popular because they have the book that are always on hold or take up the most space on the shelves. I could list at least 10 authors that I have never read that I know are bestsellers because they have whole shelves to themselves. We have lots of movies, even newer stuff and movies you wouldn't think a library would have. Action, adventure, drama, horror, classics, black and white, musicals, documentaries, kids shows, all sorts of awesome stuff. Save yourself a trip to Blockbuster and come see what we have. It's free, and at least at my library you get movies for two weeks. That beats the crap out of a video store. And it takes about 5 minutes to get a library card. Quick and painless. So come on over and say hi. And be nice to your librarian! We know where you live. ;)

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