Posts Tagged ‘demanding patrons’
Library patrons are, by nature, very delicate clientele. They enter our doors with all kinds of requests and needs, but we, being the stodgy librarians we all are, sometimes forget that they are to be treated with absolute sensitivity. Sometimes, we blunder. We inadvertently step on someone’s toes with cold-hearted requests such as, “Please use headphones when listening to your death metal music on your laptop,” or “We’d appreciate it if you’d leave your flask of whiskey at home next time.” And we may slip up occasionally and ask difficult and alarming questions, such as, “What’s the title of the book you’re looking for?”. But hey, we’re only human…right?
Librarian: What can I do for you?
Patron: Can you check to see if a book is in your library?
Librarian: Sure! What book are you looking for?
Patron: I knew you were going to ask that! I just had it…and when you asked me that I forgot it right away!
Librarian: Oops…sorry about that, is there anything you know about the book that I can possibly use to find the title?
Patron: No! You shouldn’t have said anything!
Conclusion: She remembered the title had “wind” in it, and it was by the same author as Misty. “Something about A Winded Friend.” It was King of the Wind. In spite of my terrible faux pas of making her spontaneously forget titles by talking to her, I was able to deduce the appropriate title and provide her with the book she was seeking.
Another thing librarians sometimes forget is the simple fact that we are, above all else, librarians. Therefore, we must live up to the stereotype of too-tight buns, wool skirts, grandma shoes, and beaded glasses chains. Under no circumstances are we allowed to vary from this appearance: if we did, patrons might not recognize us, or may confuse us for things such as bartenders, nannies, or psychologists. We owe it to our patrons to minimize confusion about our professions. Oh, we also owe it to them to have the answers to everything…
Today I was working at the library and this is the jewelry I was wearing: Two “permanent” earrings in each ear, one empty piercing in each ear lobe (sometimes I forget to put my “fancy” earrings in…or maybe I just don’t want to!), and one nostril screw on the right side of my nose.
So a patron was seeking assistance from me. She wanted me to provide her with an internet directory, much like a telephone directory, that listed websites for specific companies. When I tried to explain to her that, to my knowledge, this doesn’t exist because the contents could change on a daily basis, she couldn’t believe that a print version of the internet was not available! So she gave me specific terms to search, which I did to please her, and then she said:
“I don’t know why someone would bother wearing an earring in their nose, if they aren’t going to put them in their ears where they belong!”
I calmly responded (and I’m totally not lying):
“The book your looking for does not exist and it is a waste of time to continue to search for one. My choice of jewelry is not any of your business. Is there something else I can do for you today, or are we finished here?”
She made me show her the computer books…..
We’re glad these stories were sent in so we could share them with librarians everywhere who may have inadvertently forgotten their rightful place in the universe as quiet, unfashionable folk whose sole purpose is to serve the masses. We hope you find these stories as helpful as we did!
Do these stories remind you of something that happened to you while working in a library? Send them in! Your story could be published on our site…and may even receive the honor of being featured as a Story of the Week!
Attention! The Merry Librarian is looking for stories to feature in an upcoming theme-based series. If you have any true stories about weddings or wedding photography taking place in your library, send them in! Your story could be published on our site! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We chose two Stories of the Week this week because they were perfect examples of some of the ridiculous expectations patrons place on librarians. Sometimes, don’t you just want to scream, “I’m your librarian, not your $*@^#!”???
From “Alice” in Colorado Springs, CO:
“We have a quirky printing machine that requires you to print two jobs to get change. We have a very clear sign posted where patrons deposit their money that says “exact change only.” Recently a patron put in a five dollar bill for a $1.90 print job. He then came storming up to the desk demanding that I refund his money. We keep a cup of spare change at the Information desk to give quick change back if the patron is insistent. I tried to pay the patron from the cup but was 10 cents short. I told the patron that I’m sorry he will have to wait or leave without his 10 cents. The patron proceeded to demand that I pay him out of my pocket! We eventually got his 10 cents, but I could not believe he would ask me to pull money out of my pocket to cover the fact that he can’t read the “exact change only” sign. To top it off, I was wearing a skirt and didn’t even have pocket to pull the magical dime from.”
From “Lucy” in Manitou Springs, CO:
“I work in a small, very acoustic library where even the slightest whisper is heard from across the room. One day a man called while I was working the Reference Desk and asked me to tell him what books on his card were overdue. All of the books on his card were overdue, and all dealt with subject matter of a sexual nature–with fairly explicit titles. The man demanded that I tell him the individual titles when I tried to quietly tell him that all of the books he had checked out were overdue. I repeated the titles as quietly as I could, knowing that everyone around me heard every word. Then the man demanded to hear them again. When he asked me to list them all a third time, I became intensely uncomfortable and suspicious. I asked him to hold and had one of my male coworkers take over the call. Sure enough, when the man on the phone heard a male voice, he quickly said he didn’t need any more help and hung up.”
Submit your stories to us at: email@example.com!
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.)
Submit your stories to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org!