Archive for June, 2009

Home Addition

Just how far should a librarian go to help a patron? Here is one patron’s expectation of service.

Patron: Excuse me, I need some help.

Librarian: Okay. How can I help you?

Patron: I’m adding an addition to my house and I need help.

Librarian: Okay. Are you looking for information on building projects, home repair, home decorating or something else?

Patron: No, no. I just need some help.

Librarian: Do you mean a book that will guide you through the process of home additions?

Patron: (frustrated) No. I just. Need. Help.

Librarian: I’m afraid I’m not sure what you mean. Can you explain what kind of help you need?

Patron: (Takes out a pile of papers and blueprints and spreads them across the desk) Look. Here are my plans. I want to get started, but I can’t do it alone. I need help.

Librarian: Oh, I see! Would you like information on local contractors and builders?

Patron: (stares) Are you kidding? I don’t have the money for contractors.

Librarian: So do you need information on financing home additions?

Patron: (angrily) No! Listen to me! I need HELP. I need you to come over and help me with this!

Librarian: Sorry…Are you asking me to come to your house and help you build the new room?

Patron: Yes! Obviously.

Librarian: Um. I’m afraid I’m not qualified for that. I can give you information on people who are, though.

Patron: I don’t need information. I need help. This is a library, right?

Librarian: Um… Yes…

Patron: And libraries are supposed to help people. I need your help to build this addition.

Librarian: Ma’am, I’m sorry, but I can’t help you. I’m a librarian, not a builder or a contractor. I am happy to help you find a local contractor, though.

Patron: I can’t believe this. You can’t help me? This is ridiculous. Thanks for nothing! (Storms out.)

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Conversation Pieces

“Love Language”

A man approaches the librarian at the reference desk and hands her a letter.

Patron: Excuse me, but the library offers translation services, right?

Librarian: We do, when possible.

Patron: Would you translate this love letter into Russian for me? It’s for my mail-order bride.

Librarian: I’m sorry, sir. We only offer translation services on official documents.

The man says he understands and leaves. Five minutes later, he returns and approaches the other librarian at the desk, avoiding eye contact with the first librarian, who is sitting three feet away. He hands the second librarian the same letter.

Patron: The library offers translations services, right?

Librarian #2:


“Mommy Dearest”

A phone conversation between a reference librarian and a female patron. You expect mothers like this when you work with children. When you work reference, however…

Patron: (sounding distressed) My son received notification that he was being sent to collections for fines on his card. But he lost his card, so someone must be using it! The fines aren’t his!

Librarian: Okay, ma’am. It’s okay. We can change your son’s card status to “lost card” so no one can use it. But we will need you to bring your son in so we can have a manager talk to you about the fines.

Patron: (Practically in tears) Can’t you just cancel the fines?

Librarian: I’m sorry, ma’am. We will really need you to come in to work out the fines. We can’t cancel fines this high without meeting with your son.

Patron: (hysterical) Oh, this is terrible! What is he supposed to do? He can’t pay these fines! And I can’t pay them!

Librarian: Please calm down, ma’am. It will be really easy to fix if you just bring your child in.

Patron: But my son can’t come in! He’s moving!

*red flag*

Librarian: Sorry, ma’am, but can I ask—how old is your son?

Patron: 27!

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Leaving a Legacy

This Story of the Week is one of our all-time classics. “Leaving a Legacy” was sent in from a very busy library in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

It has been a very busy day at the library, and the librarian takes a breath for the first time since lunch. With the breath comes a whiff of something very foul. Groaning inwardly, the librarian steps out from behind her desk to investigate—but she doesn’t get far.

Starting at the front door and passing through the self-check area, past the main desk, through the Children’s Section, up the stairs, around Adult Fiction and out the back door is a trail of human feces.

The librarian alerts the staff, who all try to keep from gagging while discussing what, exactly, should be done. A search is mounted for the defecator while the custodial crew (aka, the librarians) use the “Bodily Fluids Clean Up Kit” to dispose of the chunkier material. Later, one of the clerks realizes she’s stepped in a piece of the fecal matter and has been tracking it throughout the library. She is so upset that she has to go home to change clothes and shoes.

The perpetrator cannot be found, and so the security tapes must be viewed. Suspecting a child, the staff eyes the tapes carefully. Instead of a child, however, a middle aged woman–wearing white pants–walks through the front doors. She is apparently oblivious to the legacy she is leaving on the floor behind her. Nearby patrons, however, turn, point, hold their noses and hurry out of the library. Not one of them reports the woman to a staff member before she has left her trail throughout the library.

Moral of the story: If you see a person leaving a trail of poop, giggle, point, hold your nose and run away. Under no circumstances should you do something helpful, however…such as report the incident to staff.

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