Archive for September, 2009

Tough Love from a Tough Dad

This week’s Story of the Week is one of the rare  stories that is genuinely heartwarming (though we’re sure there are more out there!). As librarians–as with any public service profession–we so often see the sad and traumatic family interactions. It is refreshing to witness powerful and positive relationships like this one. Thank you, “Diane”, for this great story!

I work at a small library in an area of town that tends to house the lower-economic demographic. It is not unusual for things to be stolen from our library on a regular basis–most frequently our DVDs. One day, I was at the reference desk when a man came in with a young, teenage boy. The man looked pretty haggard. He had tattoos everywhere (even a cross between his eyebrows! Ouch!) and lots of piercings. He looked like he’d had a pretty hard life. When he came up to the desk, he set a very tall pile of DVDs in front of me–at least 20 DVDs.

“I found these in my son’s room,” he said. “He didn’t check them out. He stole them.”

I didn’t quite know how to respond, so I (rather stupidly) said, “Oh. Okay. So none of them are checked out?”

“No, ma’am,” he answered. Then he knelt down on the ground so that he was eye to eye with me. His son knelt beside him, looking deeply humiliated and angry.

“Listen,” the man said quietly. “I spent the first ten years of my boy’s life in prison. I screwed up a lot when I was younger, and I’m not proud of the man I was.” He put his arm around his son. “I want so much more for my boy than I had. I want him to be a man of integrity. So I brought him with me today because I wanted him to be accountable for what he’d done. Son, do you have anything to say?”

The boy looked at the floor and mumbled an apology at me.

I thought things would end there, but I was wrong. The dad continued talking.

“I am really proud of my son, ma’am. You need to know that. I love him so much more than anything in the world. He’s a great kid. A really great kid. I just feel bad that I was such a bad example to him. He has made some decisions lately that reflect how much I failed him, and I regret that. But I love him. I want him to be a better man than me.”

He then looked at his son, who had tears in his eyes, and said, “I love you, son. I love you.”

Then, the boy who had looked so tough and stubborn when he’d walked in, put his head on his dad’s shoulder and cried like a child. His dad held him, and wiped away a few of his own tears.

It was the most powerful thing I’ve ever seen. I, too, had teared up and had to fight to keep my voice steady as I thanked them both for their honesty. I told the boy that he was welcome to come back and get a library card when he was ready, and I returned all of the DVDs. They left, and I have never seen either of them again…but I will never forget them.

-“Diane” from Colorado

Submit your stories to us at: submit@merrylibrarian.com

Bathrobes, Bathrooms and Boys…Oh, my.

Once again, our Story of the Week is just another reminder as to the importance of security guards in public libraries. But even with the best security guards, the occasional kook gets by. Enjoy this story, and be sure to submit your own stories! The Merry Librarian is always on the lookout for the strange, outrageous, hilarious, heartbreaking, foul and zany true stories from your library!

“I am the archives assistant for the Southwestern Writers Collection at Texas State University-San Marcos and one day I spotted a young man walking down the hallway on the 7th floor with a green plaid bathrobe on.  it was finals and we see a lot of students in pjs so I didn’t pay too much mind to it at the time.  Not long afterwards, I went to the ladies.  I had entered the stall when I heard someone enter the restroom.  As soon as I sat down, a pair of very hairy legs with a green plaid bathrobe was in the stall next to me.  I finished as quickly as possible and called security.”

-“Claire” from Texas State University-San Marcos

Submit your stories to us at: submit@merrylibrarian.com!

Biting Tongues

Usually the Merry Librarian features stories about how patrons treat librarians or library facilities. This week, however, we have a small example of the shocking way patrons often treat one another. Isn’t the library supposed to be a happy place? After all, free access to literature and information should make everyone happy. We think so anyway…

The Story of the Week this week is from Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“WOW…some people amaze me.  Prepare to be a little bit appalled.

A mother and son came in today to use the computers. When he presented his library card, it showed that an item was never returned from 2004.  I’m going to say that it is likely he has NO IDEA where the card is.  He was being charged for the item, a fine that was $11, so he was unable to use the computer until he paid for the item.

While I was explaining this to them, a lady behind them loudly GASPED.  Meanwhile, I found a solution for the mother and son so they could get their work done.

The gasper was next in line, and she needed a library card.  She asked me, very loudly (the mother and son were less than 10 feet away), “Why don’t they just pay the fine?!?!?”

Well…there are a myriad of reasons…usually they don’t have the cash with them…so I just shrugged, smiled, and went about giving her a library card.

She then sneered in their direction and said, “SCUM!”

DANG!!  Really?  Do you have to call patrons names while you are at my desk?  I have no judgement against someone who elects to not pay a fine.  In this case the card was blocked, so it’s not like they are trying to swindle the library!  Who knows the circumstances…but it isn’t really any of my business anyway.

The mother returned to line after she got her son set-up on the computer.  Now she was behind “Gasp-y.”  Knowing this, Gasp-y decided to say, “I had a library card a long time ago, but I don’t know if I’m in your system.  I rarely had fines, and when I did I always paid them.  But I most certainly never kept a book!”

I just smiled and said, “Oh…things happen, ya know?  I have fines all the time and sometimes I misplace an item I’ve checked out…I’ve paid many fines and replacement costs over the years…it happens…”

In case the mother was listening, I desperately wanted to reduce any embarrassment this passive aggressive library saint might create!

I completed giving “Gasp-y” her library card, and she asked me, “Where can I find your Christian non-fiction?”

Hmmmmm……”

-“Darcie” from Colorado Springs, CO

Submit your stories to us at: submit@merrylibrarian.com!

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