Posts Tagged ‘Crazy Quotes’

Doth thou speaketh…Shakespeare?

It’s not surprising to interact with patrons who have never read Shakespeare, or even a few who haven’t heard of him. It’s also understandable when people dismiss the bard as “boring” or difficult to understand. Hey, we all have our preferences. This week’s Reference Desk Interaction made us smile because of the unique nature of one patron’s Shakespearean fluency…or lack there of.

This happened in the late 1990s, in the small-town Connecticut library I still work at, when I was first starting out as a library assistant. One afternoon a young woman came in very dressed up, wearing a fur coat and lots of expensive jewelry. (Most of our patrons show up in jeans or what they wore to work that day.) She came to the desk and asked where she could find the Shakespeare books.  I took her to the place in the stacks and pulled the ‘Complete Works’ and handed it to her.  She opened the book, looked at it for a few seconds, and then asked me if we had it in English.  I couldn’t say anything for a few beats, and finally told her gently that it was in English, and that we had Cliff notes and the film versions if she needed them. She ended up taking these things, and told me that her boyfriend was taking her to a dinner party and they would all be talking about the new Shakespeare movie that was out.  She felt she needed to prepare because she ‘didn’t know any Shakespeare’.

I am not a literature snob by any stretch. I read everything including cozy mysteries, graphic novels, SF, YA lit, etc. But for someone around my own age to not have any knowledge of literature taught in every high school was amazing to me!  It opened my eyes to the fact that social class has nothing to do with education.

~“Amber” Connecticut, USA

Jaw-dropping Reference Desk Interactions

Sometimes the conversations we have or overhear are worthy of a good jaw-drop. These two stories are shocking examples of both a lack of decorum and (dare we say it?) appalling ignorance. Thank goodness the library is available for people to find answers to their questions about life and lifestyles (and avoid embarrassing displays of assumptions elsewhere) .

Having a courtesy phone is essential at our library. We want our young patrons to call and get a ride home every night. But by having a courtesy phone too close to the reference desk, we heard way more than we wanted to know. There was ‘Melinda’s Favorite Felon’ who was forever calling his mom and his parole officer. Every day. EVERY DAY. There are many other patrons who have a remarkably small and vulgar vocabulary. But the most bizarre phone call I ever overheard …

A young gal came in one day, asked to use the courtesy phone, which was then right on the reference desk. She grabbed it, dropped down onto the floor in front of the desk (privacy?) and dialed. She waited, and waited, then delivered this message, “Hi, Mom. Just want you to know Sonny and I got married today. Talk to you later. Bye.”

When we remodeled we moved the courtesy phone a good twenty feet away from the desk. There are many things we really do not want to know.

~“Melinda”

A few years after having transferred to the print library’s reference desk, I dealt with a lot of Nursing students.  One of the courses in the curriculum was on diversity, and one of the assignments was to investigate the food preferences and diet of a particular population.  Requests for information were wide-ranging, with students wanting material on some fairly common groups like Italians, Poles, or Mexicans to the more obscure, like Maltese, Laotian, or Albanians.  We were usually able to provide information from our extensive reference collection.

One night, however, I was stumped by a patron.  She explained that she was in the Cultural Diversity class and needed to find the diet and food preferences of a particular group and was having a difficult time.  I asked her which group she was investigating, mentally preparing myself for something exotic.

“Gay people,” she replied.

“Gay people?” I responded.

“Yes. Gay people. What kind of diet do they have?”

“Ummm…” I hesitated, not knowing how to proceed, “I don’t think there really is something as a ‘Gay Diet.’  I suspect they eat the same things as everybody else in their particular ethnic group.”

“Oh!” said the patron, as enlightenment danced among her brain cells, “Maybe you’re right.  I’d better choose another group.”

~“Bethany”

Send your stories to submit@merrylibrarian.com or call or text in your stories at (216) 23M-ERRY (216-236-3779)

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?”
What?!
“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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