Posts Tagged ‘patron expectations’
After a long silence, the Merry Librarian is back in business! As a celebration of our grand re-opening, we are featuring a story from Fountain, CO as our Story of the Week. This one proves to be yet another example of patron expectations for a librarian’s abilities. As bizarre requests go, this one is definitely a strange need for information. And we’re just curious…why is it that when a patron needs something complicated and bizarre, they always want it within 24 hours? Just curious.
“Here’s a situation I ran into yesterday that I thought you might find amusing…it falls under the “librarians should know everything about everything” assumption that much of the general public seems to have. A man walked into our branch yesterday and asked me the following questions:
“If something were translated from English into Mayan hieroglyphics into Egyptian hieroglyphics, would someone from Iran who speaks Hebrew be able to understand it?”
Umm…I’m thinking not.
“Well, then, could you translate it for me so they could understand it?”
…Why yes, of course I happen to be fluent in ALL those languages. (I am a librarian, after all.)
“Well, do you have a book that translates Mayan hieroglyphics into Egyptian hieroglyphics into Hebrew?”
I’m thinking not…but I’ll check anyway just to appease you…Nope, just as I suspected. Nothing.
“Why don’t you have any books that do that?”
I don’t think there is a book anywhere that does that.
“Well, what can you do? I need it done tonight.”
…Luckily, I it was close to the end of my shift and I was able to pass this patron along to my unsuspecting coworkers…who had no idea what they were walking into and may not be very happy next time they see me…”
– “Julia” from Fountain, CO
Submit your story to 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!
It is a little known fact, but librarians share in a Sacred Code. This Code is the ultimate standard of our kind: the torch we carry in the long, dark night of Librarianism. We hold it proudly, brandishing it with humility and absolute devotion. It is the Code that shapes our behavior and defines our very being.
This Code has been known by no outsider–until now.
“I declare myself a Librarian, and swear myself to this Sacred Code. I acknowledge that I am but a humble servant of society, and forfeit my identity and rights as an individual. I willingly lay down my right to personal space. I accept that I shall henceforth be a surrogate mother to all patrons: I shall clean up their messes, their puke, their children’s puke, and re-shelve all of their carelessly tossed books. I shall silently tolerate their screaming fits when they fail to read signs about Internet usage limits, fines, and behavioral expectations. I will cater to their every need: from, “Will you set up my email account for me?” to “I need help with my taxes,” to “I just can’t understand why my husband left me!” I will follow their children around, cleaning up trails of toys, chewed books, urine and bubblegum. I will assist the man who speaks only to my chest; I will converse with the woman whose breath is foul enough to kill kittens. I will smile when they scream, smile when curse, smile when they are demanding and irrational. I am a Librarian: I am all things to all people. By this Code I do swear.”
Despite the fact that this Code has never before been published for public perusal, the patrons of libraries far and wide seem to have a sixth sense for the Code, and willingly oblige librarians with constant opportunities to fulfill their pledge to it. The stories on this site are just a few examples of patron expectations…and of the Librarians of The Code.
Keep submitting your stories to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, thanks for all the fish!
~The Merry Librarian