Posts Tagged ‘I’m your librarian not your $*@^#!’
Patrons, no matter their economic, social, religious or educational standing can be a teensy bit demanding at times. They demand their fines be forgiven (“I swear I turned that book in! You people lost it, not me!”); they insist we deliver the goods (“My daughter’s report is due tomorrow…how can you not have a single book on her obscure topic available?”); and they expect us to know everything (“Can you show me how to fix my transmission so I don’t have to take my car to a mechanic?”). As it turns out, however, public and academic librarians just might have it easy when it comes to the demands of their patron population…
I am a correctional librarian in Virginia, and with this type of work come lots of funny and/or awkward moments. Most of the time though inmates forget that I am a librarian and not a lawyer …
Me: How can I help you?
Inmate: Well, I want my sentence reduced. (He is talking about a motion of reconsideration, which inmates can file to ask the judge to reconsider and/or modify the sentence … but you need good reasons to prove that you made progress and deserve a shorter sentence).
Me: Okay … do you have good reasons that could convince the judge to reconsider your sentence?
I/m: Well, I am not guilty.
Me: Well, did you plead guilty in court?
Me: Why did you do that if you are innocent?
I/m: My lawyer said to plead guilty so that other charges might be dropped. But I did not do anything, so I want the judge to take time off my sentence.
Me: Well, it is not that easy. Once you said you are guilty, you can’t just go back and say “Well, can you take a few months off my sentence because I am not guilty after all”.
I/m: So what do you advise?
Me: I don’t advise you to do anything, I am not your lawyer.
I/m: But you are the librarian.
Me: (Good observation). Yes, and that is why I can’t give legal advice.
I/m: But my lawyer sucks.
Me: Well, you can complain to the VA state bar and have the lawyer investigated.
I/m: That’s too much work. I just want you to write a letter to the judge saying I am innocent and want my sentence reduced.
Me: -.- I am sorry, I can’t do that.
I/m: Then this jail sucks. Give me a 1983 form so I can file a legal rights suit for you not helping me.
~“Arlene” Virginia, USA
Another tale from Queensland, Australia, demonstrates the global phenomenon of patrons mistaking librarians for…well, just about anything else. We’ve had patrons mistake us for janitors, psychics, babysitters, contractors…just to name a few. (Check out our archives for more stories of mistaken identity!) In this case, the patron assumes the librarian capable of incredible financial feats. Ah, well. It all goes back to that infamous question: “You are a librarian, aren’t you?”
Library patron was using one of our public use Internet access computers. I’d had a fair amount of trouble getting him logged on as he wasn’t too computer savvy but no worries, that’s what we’re there for, we’re in a low socio-economic area and a big part of our job is to get people ‘connected’.
However, my jaw dropped when he came over and complained that he was trying to book a plane flight and his card was rejected! Could I fix it? (Yes I did make sure he was actually using his credit card and not some other card and that he was using the site correctly.)
I guess this comes under the heading ” I’m your librarian not your #$%@#* banker!”
~“Shelly” Queensland, Australia
Send your stories to email@example.com or call or text in your stories at (216) 23M-ERRY (216-236-3779)
Ah, the age-old question: “You are a librarian, aren’t you?” What a wonderful question! Whenever librarians hear this one, we instantly realize that what the patron really means is: “You are all-knowing, aren’t you?”
Sorry to disappoint you, patrons, but sometimes your questions are too vague even for our advanced minds to answer. It’s rare, of course, but it does happen. Thanks to “Bethany” for sending in, what Merry likes to call, an amusing Reference Desk Interaction (RDI). We just can’t get enough of these!
My favorite reference phone transaction involved our extensive sound recording collection. A woman called and asked if we had “that Indian music that was on the radio last night.” Not knowing quite how to respond to an obviously silly question (the caller WAS very serious), I decided to pursue this like any other ref question.
“What was the radio station?” I asked, thinking that perhaps I could locate a play list. The patron didn’t know.
“What tribe was the music related to? I asked, thinking that among our collection I could find music from the appropriate group. The patron didn’t know.
“Was it Native American Indian or Asian Indian?” I continued to ask since we also had a fair amount of Asian music.
“I don’t know!” the patron plaintively said, “but my boss heard it last night and wanted me to track it down.” (She was his secretary.)
“Hmmm,” I said. “I don’t think I’ll be able to find what you want.”
“Well why not? You are a librarian aren’t you?”
While I was very tempted to say something snotty like “Yes, indeed, I am a librarian but I must have missed the classes on Omniscience and Clairvoyance,” I meekly responded, “Sorry, but I really do need more information before I can proceed. Please ask your boss if he can remember anything more.” (and then whack him upside the head with a rolled-up newspaper.)
Send your RDI’s to firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone them in: (216) 23M-ERRY (216-236-3779)
Attention, Australian readers! We need one or two more stories from your neck-o-the woods to complete our “Librarians of the World” month in March. Send in your crazy down under stories to us today!