Posts Tagged ‘conversations’

2009, Over and Out

In this final week of 2009, we thought we’d gear up for 2010 with a few more chuckles from the reference desk. Nothing says “Happy New Year” like ignorance, accents and a quirky ex-con. 🙂 Thanks for a great 2009! We’ll see you next year with even more outrageous stories (and a few new goodies!) from The Merry Librarian!

As the media librarian in a four-year University in the metro Detroit area, I frequently dealt with English majors who were seeking adaptations of works of literature on video.  My favorite transaction was with one student who was looking for an adaptation of “Oedipus Rex.”  We had two versions, I explained.  One was done in modern dress from the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre and the other was done in the classical style with a Greek chorus.  After a minute’s hesitation, the student asked for the modern version because she “didn’t want to listen to the musical version.”  Keeping a straight face with some difficulty, I explained that a Greek chorus didn’t actually sing.

~”Bethany” Detroit, MI

Last month a young man of about 13-15 years old came up to our reference desk.
“Where are the whores?”
“Where are the whores?  You know . . . like Goosebumps?
Do you mean horror?
“Yeah!  Whores!”
At this point, everyone cracked up including the child’s shocked parental figure.
Ya gotta love an East Texas accent 🙂

~”Brendan” Houston, TX

A weathered man with dreads walks up to the desk and starts rooting through the golf pencil supply. He picks up each pencil and holds it up to the light; he considers it and then returns it to the box. He then begins to sharpen one pencil at a time, with the very loud pencil sharpener at the reference desk.

I say, “Finding what you need?”

He says, “This is just like jail!” and leaves without a pencil.

~ “Jamie”

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Songs for the Season: Library Carols!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Merry Librarian!

Have you ever had a bad day at the library, and wished it could be brightened by song? Well, Merry happens to know a gifted lyricist who has turned three bad-day-at-the-library stories into hilarious songs set to the tunes of popular holiday music. We encourage you to sing along with us as we celebrate the season with these fun new library carols! (The lyrics were composed by Jennifer Stafford. For more information on our talented friend, check out her website here!)

“Johnny the College Student”

The Story…

“I worked at a community college library in the USA. I was helping a male patron in his twenties at the stand-up reference computer terminal with rushing students walking past us between classes.

A woman walked by us and told my male patron in a loud voice, “You’d better go and see “so and so” because she’s pregnant and she says the baby is yours”.

I don’t think the guy batted an eyelash, but it did disrupt our reference conversation. There is no distinction these days between public and private conversations.” ~“Jacqueline”

The song…

“Johnny, the College Student”

(To the tune of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”)

Johnny the college student
Had a kind of wild night,
And when he was in public
All his secrets came to light.
All of the other patrons
Ignored us as they walked on by,
None of them knew poor Johnny
Was about to be “that guy.”
Then that busy afternoon
A lady came to say,
“Johnny with your past so bad,
You’re about to be a dad!”
Then how poor Johnny grimaced
As a blush crept to my face,
Johnny the college student,
The library is not the place!


“I Hate Books!”

The Story…

Yesterday at the library the machines failed us. The computers were down most of the day. Ignorant, I arrived for the evening shift I passed some giddy day shift people. They laughed at me as they left. “Get ready for a nightmare,” one said. Once inside I see that there are towers of vertically stacked books, on armies of trucks. I find out the only thing worse than the library not being able to check in books all day, is the moment when you can check everything in after such a glitch.

We start checking in movies, cds, books transforming vertical stacks to the more processed and evolved horizontal stacks. The phone is ringing, people have noticed their books haven’t been checked in. “Are you going to charge me?” “Are you open Veteran’s Day?” “Have you seen my laptop charger?” People stick their heads in the book slots to describe the horror of how the automated handling system has mistreated them. The automated machine flays books and gets jammed in its unrestrained joy to be online again.

As I check in books I come across a children’s book called “I Hate Books!” I read the title aloud, and I feel great joy. I find the louder I say it, the happier I feel. I hold it up to a coworker and say “Look Joe! I Hate Books!” Joe says, “I Hate Books!” Uma joins us in the “I Hate Books!” chorus. There are so many ways to say it. I like really emphasizing the Aaaaa sound. It can be said staccato like pent up rage boiling over, or whispered like a dark secret.

A librarian walks by and sees the fitful giggling and can just feel our delight. She comments, “You guys are always having such fun in circulation.”

Yes. Yes we are. ~“Jasmine”

The Song…

“I Hate Books”

(To the tune of “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!”)

The computerized check-in failed us,
All books flew in and nailed us,
It’s just as bad as it looks…
I hate books! I hate books! I hate books!
I see books piled to the ceiling,
And I have a sinking feeling.
And the patrons all think we’re crooks.
I hate books! I hate books! I hate books!
When we finally make it work,
Then it jams and the books start to shred.
And I want to tell this pesky jerk
That slot is for books, not your head!
At the height of our frustration
They say it’s fun in circulation
It’s not as fun as it looks–
I hate books! I hate books! I hate books!

 “Walnut Bashing”

The Story…

The children’s librarian has a line of people waiting for help. Things are rather hectic, children scrambling about, various people talking, normal chaos that is the children’s section of the Cupertino library. A series of loud noises catches the librarian’s attention and she sees that it is a woman banging the stapler on the desk. A longer take reveals that it is a woman trying to crack open a walnut with the library’s stapler. ~“Joyce”

The Song…

“Walnut Bashing”

(To the tune of “Ding Dong Merrily on High”)

Who brings walnuts in their purse?
We think someone should smack her!
When things couldn’t get much worse,
Our stapler’s a nutcracker!
There’s shells in circulation.
There’s no sane explanation.

Thank you, Jennifer, for your fabulous lyrical contributions to The Merry Librarian!

We wish you all a very joyful holiday season!

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Grumblings from the Reference Desk

Technology. As much as we love it, need it and are addicted to it, it has its quirks. And frustrations. And infuriations. (Is that a word? Hm. Is now. 🙂 )

Perhaps nobody is more familiar with this tempestuous territory than Reference Librarians. Ever since computer labs took over 2,000 square feet of our library floor space, librarians working the reference desks have been faced with questions like: “What’s my email password?” and “Why can’t I print all of my Google search results for ‘cat breeds’?” and “I don’t know how to use Word. Could you just type up my resume for me?”

Yes, Referene Desk workers everywhere have a love-hate thing going on with technology. And we just can’t help but hate it the most when it comes at us in the ultimate, hideous duo of telephone and computer. There’s nothing more frustrating than patrons using the Reference Desk as a computer help line…except, of course, when the patron is as stubborn as they are demanding. Then the real fun begins.

Not funny.  But true.  Maybe you have a Sad, Troubled and Confused Librarian page? Here is a call I got one day from a patron having trouble downloading an audiobook.

He: I can’t download your audiobooks.

Me: Oh, I’m sorry.  What’s happening when you try to download?

He: I click on the book to add to my cart and then I click download and then it never downloads.

Me: What message do you see when it doesn’t download?  Is there some error message?

He: No.

Me: When you click on the book to download and the download software opens, there’s no error message?

He: No.

I was confused. If there’s an error, there’s usually an error message.

Me: Open the download program now so we can check something.

He: What program is that?

Me: The program that you installed to use the audiobooks. 

I was suddenly afraid that he had not installed the program needed to download audiobooks.

Me(again): Have you downloaded and installed that software that you need for the audiobooks?

He: No. I can’t do that.

Me: Why not?

He: Because I don’t know which one to download.

Me: Oh. Well, the link is right there on the main page. What are you using now to access the site?  A PC, a Mac, or another device?

He: I have all three.

Me: Okay, but which one are you using now?

He: Why am I limited to just one?  Why can’t I use all three?

Me: Because you only need one right now.  You pick the one that matches what you’re using right now.

He: Yeah, but I have all three.  Why is the library making me choose just one?  Why are you limiting my access to these books?

Me: We’re not limiting anything.  You download the program that matches what you’re using right now to get the audiobooks. Are you saying that you have a PC, a Mac, and an iPhone all accessing the audiobooks page right now?  You’re using all three right now?  You still need to download the corresponding version to each one.

I was mad.  Sorry, does it show?

He: I don’t think I should be limited to just one.

Me: Until you choose one of the three formats to download, I can’t help you.  Pick one.  Install it and then I can help you.

I never heard back from him.  Either it’s my fault because I’m a mean, angry ass, or he still hasn’t made up his mind.


Remind you of your own sticky situation? Need a place to vent a little? Tell us about it! Send your story submissions to us at

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