Posts Tagged ‘patron expectations’

Things They Don’t Teach in Library School

This week’s story is definitely one of our all time favorites! We certainly applaud this brave librarian for keeping her cool in what was surely a stressful (and surreal) situation. (And bonus points for the name suggestion…)

Under the category of “Things that they don’t teach you in Library School” how to deliver a baby certainly must head the list. But when the 911 operator tells you to lay your patron flat on her back and stay on the phone because she is going to “talk you through the delivery and YOU MUST be the one to do it if the ambulance doesn’t arrive” the first thing that happens is your heart nearly stops beating! Yes, our patron was in the end stages of labor and said that she thought her water had broken about 1 or 2 a.m. when she came to the library about 5:30 yesterday evening. Why did she come to the library? Well where else do you go when you want information? You go ask a librarian!!

And she asked me four things: for a DVD about labor and delivery, was what happened to her early that morning really her water breaking, did I think that what was happening to her body right then could be contractions, and did that mean that her baby was coming now?

After a few questions (like we do in any good reference interview) it became VERY apparent that she was indeed in labor and that, as a matter of fact, those labor pains were coming every two minutes! That’s when the 911 call went out and I found out that delivering a baby just became part of my job description! Luckily for ALL concerned the Fire Department arrived just as I got the mother-to-be into my private office and they took over the timing. I could tell that they were sweating the arrival of the ambulance as much as I was, however, because by the time the ambulance actually arrived the contractions were coming every 30 seconds. The ambulance whisked her away with me telling her to be sure to name the baby after Melvil Dewey and to bring him in soon so we could get him his own library card!

~“Rachel” Fort Worth, TX

Ethics and Easy Credit: Available at a Library Near You!

Just a few brief but delicious stories for you today. Sometimes the little things that make us giggle or role our eyes at work are the stories we find ourselves talking about the most. We thought such stories deserved a few moments in the Merry spotlight!

ethics of freedomSomeone had ripped the innards out of the book “The Ethics of Freedom,” and left with it. Its empty cover now sits on my desk.

Sad Irony.

Sent in from “Jolene” along with the picture of the abandoned book cover…

Today I assisted a 60 year old woman, who had recently moved to town from Hawaii, in getting a library card with our district. When I handed her the new card, she said, “What are the benefits that come with this card?”

It struck me as unusual phrasing, but I figured she was referring to general usage: i.e., where she could use the card, how many items she could check out, etc. So I told her and then helped her locate two CDs she wanted. Once I’d checked them out to her, I handed her the receipt and reminded her the items were due in one week.

“Due?” she said, incredulous. “What do you mean due?”

Her sudden attitude surprised me. “Um, well, media material checks out for one week. It may be possible to renew them at that time, though.”

“I don’t want to return them! Why would¬†you make me return them? I’m not going to return them! I want them!”

She was getting a little angry now, so I tried a new tactic, thinking that perhaps this woman didn’t realize she was in a library. “Sorry for the confusion, ma’am. Because these CDs are library property, you are able to borrow them for one week, free of charge. If you choose to keep them, our billing department will contact you and charge you for the price of the items.”

She stared at me for a moment and then shoved the CDs and library card toward me again. “Then I don’t want them. I thought they were going on the card.”

As she stormed off, I realized that her initial question, “What are the benefits that come with this card?”, should have been my tip-off. She thought that the library was issuing her a credit card based solely on seeing her photo ID and proof of address. If I didn’t personally know a librarian in Hawaii, I would have to question how the island library system works…and maybe get myself a Hawaiian library card! ūüôā


Submit your stories to us at or phone them in: (216) 23M-ERRY (216-236-3779)

Attention, Australian readers! We still 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 tales from Down Under today!

You are a Librarian, aren’t you?

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. ūüôā 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, 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!

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