Posts Tagged ‘Story of the Week’

When You Ask a Kid A Question…You’re Gonna Get an Answer!

Kids may say the darnedest things, but sometimes, librarians ask the silliest questions! Such is the case with this week’s story. All of us who have worked with children or performed story times know that even the most innocent question on our part can lead to an embarrassingly honest answer from an eager-to-please kiddo. There is just no avoiding situations like this one…unless, of course, you choose to stick to adult reference. Then again, as evidenced by November’s theme, adult reference has its share of embarrassing moments. Guess there’s just no avoiding a little humiliation in the public library!

My favorite “story time” experience was when I had donned a number of animal tails, affixed them to the back of a pair of sweat pants, and pulled each one out at the appropriate time as I read a variety of animal “tales.”  In what can only be called an Art Linkletter moment, I paused, tried to cover the fact that I was having difficulty turning a page, and asked the children if people have tails……
Bad call, story lady……never ask a question you don’t know the answer to…..
One especially adorable, anxious to please, precocious four year old jumped up and said, excitedly, “No, but I have a penis!”
Mom was mortified, all other mom’s were trying their best not to laugh out loud, and I learned to move on, very, very quickly!
~”Wanda” from Wisconsin


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Mapping Out History

Though we typically post humorous stories, Merry recognizes that the stories librarians often value most are the success stories. Like all professionals, we revel in moments when we know, without a doubt, that we are not only in the right profession, but we are also great at what we do. This week’s Story of the Week was sent in from one of our faithful readers who wanted to share an example of an interaction within the library that led to a patron’s personal success outside of it. For those of you who have been working in libraries for a long time, we know you will have similar success stories to share! And for all our young and up-and-coming librarian readers, we wish you a future full of similarly rewarding interactions!

I worked in a geology library, and we often get genealogical patrons looking for old maps. In this case, a patron was looking for an old company or mill town in North Carolina, that was abandoned by 1910. One of his ancestors was buried there, and he wanted to find the grave.

We were able to find an old USGS map of the region from 1890s, that showed the town and the layout of the major buildings. However, when the patron got there, all he could see was a wide field with hip high brown grasses. All the wooden buildings had long ago turned into the dirt underneath. Although he had the map in his hand, he could not get his bearings of where the buildings were, or even find the streets.

As he was scratching his head in puzzlement, he noticed a bit of bright color. Walking over to it, he found a bright rose bush, alone in the field. However, looking more closely around, he saw other roses, and realized the wives of the mill workers had planted the rose bushes near their front doors, in order to bring some color to an otherwise dreary mill town. Almost a hundred years after the buildings built by men had collapsed into dust, the roses planted by the women were still blooming, and still bringing color to an otherwise featureless field.

Going between the rose bushes, the patron was able to get the first of the street directions straight in his head, and then could figure out from the map where the cemetery was, and still is.

Even more interestingly, he came back to the library, and told me of his successful adventure into the past.


Send us your stories of success, humor, horror, or all the above at!

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!

Grumblings from the Reference Desk

Technology. As much as we love it, need it and are addicted to it, it has its quirks. And frustrations. And infuriations. (Is that a word? Hm. Is now. 🙂 )

Perhaps nobody is more familiar with this tempestuous territory than Reference Librarians. Ever since computer labs took over 2,000 square feet of our library floor space, librarians working the reference desks have been faced with questions like: “What’s my email password?” and “Why can’t I print all of my Google search results for ‘cat breeds’?” and “I don’t know how to use Word. Could you just type up my resume for me?”

Yes, Referene Desk workers everywhere have a love-hate thing going on with technology. And we just can’t help but hate it the most when it comes at us in the ultimate, hideous duo of telephone and computer. There’s nothing more frustrating than patrons using the Reference Desk as a computer help line…except, of course, when the patron is as stubborn as they are demanding. Then the real fun begins.

Not funny.  But true.  Maybe you have a Sad, Troubled and Confused Librarian page? Here is a call I got one day from a patron having trouble downloading an audiobook.

He: I can’t download your audiobooks.

Me: Oh, I’m sorry.  What’s happening when you try to download?

He: I click on the book to add to my cart and then I click download and then it never downloads.

Me: What message do you see when it doesn’t download?  Is there some error message?

He: No.

Me: When you click on the book to download and the download software opens, there’s no error message?

He: No.

I was confused. If there’s an error, there’s usually an error message.

Me: Open the download program now so we can check something.

He: What program is that?

Me: The program that you installed to use the audiobooks. 

I was suddenly afraid that he had not installed the program needed to download audiobooks.

Me(again): Have you downloaded and installed that software that you need for the audiobooks?

He: No. I can’t do that.

Me: Why not?

He: Because I don’t know which one to download.

Me: Oh. Well, the link is right there on the main page. What are you using now to access the site?  A PC, a Mac, or another device?

He: I have all three.

Me: Okay, but which one are you using now?

He: Why am I limited to just one?  Why can’t I use all three?

Me: Because you only need one right now.  You pick the one that matches what you’re using right now.

He: Yeah, but I have all three.  Why is the library making me choose just one?  Why are you limiting my access to these books?

Me: We’re not limiting anything.  You download the program that matches what you’re using right now to get the audiobooks. Are you saying that you have a PC, a Mac, and an iPhone all accessing the audiobooks page right now?  You’re using all three right now?  You still need to download the corresponding version to each one.

I was mad.  Sorry, does it show?

He: I don’t think I should be limited to just one.

Me: Until you choose one of the three formats to download, I can’t help you.  Pick one.  Install it and then I can help you.

I never heard back from him.  Either it’s my fault because I’m a mean, angry ass, or he still hasn’t made up his mind.


Remind you of your own sticky situation? Need a place to vent a little? Tell us about it! Send your story submissions to us at

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