Monday, January 7, 2008


This is a new one by me:

(actual phone call)

Me: Cozyland Regional Library, how may I help you?
Confused Patron: Yes, I hope you can help me, but I am not sure you can, because I have so little information for you...I saw this book talked about on tv, and I must have thought it sounded interesting, because I wrote down that I'd like to get it for all the female members of my family...
Me: Okay, what do you know about it?
CP: Well, the title is three words, and they're something like, something, something, love...
Me: Do you mean, Eat Pray Love?
CP: Yes! That's it! Could I order it please?
Me: Sure, though I know it is very popular right now, so you'll have to wait a bit after I put it on hold for you...
CP: Oh that's okay, it's for Christmas.
Um, huh?
Me: Okay, well I can place the hold for you...
CP: How much does it cost?
Me: Oh, you want to buy it?
CP: Well, yes...
Me: Um, this is the library...I mean, I could look up a bookstore phone number for you, if you like.
CP: Oh! This is the library? Oh!
Me: Yes, but I could get you the phone number...
CP: Yes, that would be great. I'm sorry!
Me: It's okay, let me look it up.

So...I did say "library" when I greeted her. In the words of one of my favorite children's books: Wow. That's just about all I can say. Wow.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mean Ned

Mean Ned scared the hell out of me when I started working at the library. He is almost unintelligible due to massive scarring on half of his face (the rumor is that he tried to shoot himself, but survived). We think he is trying to market some strange device that he has invented. He stalks up to the desk and mutters commands, never in the form of a question.

Me: Hi, can I help you?
Mean Ned: Ahmeetohicelectomoters dot com
Me: I'm sorry, could you repeat that?
Mean Ned (giving me the stink eye with his one eye): Ahmeetohicelectomoters dot com
Me: Could you write it down?
(writes "ACME TOXIC ELECTROMOTORS.COM" on a chit of paper and passes it to me. I type this into my address bar and am taken to a sparse site.)
Me: Okay, here it is. What do you need to find on here?
(Mean Ned then turns the monitor so he can see it and points at links on the site saying "Click here..." As I do so he gets more and more frustrated.)
Me: Maybe I could help you find something?
Mean Ned: I need the 800 number.
Me (after clicking on "Contact Us): Hmm, it looks like they don't have one, but I can print their contact info for you...
Mean Ned: No, I need an 800 number.
(I check some t0ll-free number databases and our printed resource, with no luck.)
Me: I'm sorry, it looks like they don't have one.
Mean Ned: I need the 800 number. I'll come back later to get it. (This means we are expected to work on finding this information for him and then keep it at the desk for him to collect (or not) at his convenience.)

Other requests of his have included:

  • a list of all the engineering pr0fessors at the local university and their h0me addresses.
  • President Bush's schedule for his last visit to the area, including the hotels he would be staying in.
  • a list of all the electrical engineers in the country who specialize in tes1a electr!c!ty and their office phone numbers.

    It's almost scarier when he's in a good mood. He frequently asks my coworker to be in his "reality show." We shudder to think what that could be like.
  • Tuesday, December 18, 2007

    The Princess Returns

    After several months taking care of my adorable little one, I am back at the library. It really is lovely to be able to have conversations with adults, even if some of the adults I help are one sandwich short of a picnic.

    Some of my favorite patrons were in today, though I didn't have to assist them all myself (thankfully). WGL grilled a coworker on the fat content of movie popcorn (one of her favorite topics), "Is popcorn fattening? What if there's butter on it?" "Do you like popcorn?" She was also looking for b!g red loll!p0ps "like the one I got from Santa a long time ago." Hmm.

    Mean Ned was also here, asking for his toll-free numbers for obscure engineering companies as usual, and trying to get us to give him extended computer time. I will save him for another time.

    My coworker commented that it seems as if during the holidays, we have a lower number of patrons around overall, but the percentage of crazies rises. He says that all the normal people have things to do over the holidays, whereas the more interesting patrons...don't. So they come into the library (or call, or send us email) and get their holiday happiness from making us nuts.

    Sunday, July 22, 2007

    Last day of work!!!

    Yes, today is my last day at the library until October. I will be holed up reading HP 7 tomorrow, but after that, I predict that I will spend what baby-free time I have left organizing the closets, napping, and watching HGTV. Thrilling, I know.

    So, about HP 7. Oh, for those of you who need it spelled out (I really can't imagine that's any of my readers) that's Harry Potter Book 7. I have only read 3 pages so far, and I am living in fear that I will accidentally hear about how it ends. I have stopped looking at the news online, I am not watching TV or hanging around the children's area of the library, just in case it is being discussed. Two of my co-workers opened the thing up yesterday and read the last chapter. How could they do that??? I feel like I have waited so long, it would be a waste not to get there the good old fashioned way. Another co-worker stayed up until 6am this morning to finish it. I might have to stop back in to work this week so we can discuss.

    Yesterday the library, along with every other library in the country I'm sure, hosted an HP Extravaganza with activities and festivities. Kids were coming in dressed in costumes, and there was a magician and a wizard rock band (here's some more info on this music movement). On my way to work I stopped in the grocery store and was in line behind a woman and her son. They were buying the last two copies that the store was selling (I am still floored by books being sold in the grocery store, especially ones without Fabio on the cover), and the boy was reading it in line.

    I continue to be amazed by the sensation that this series has caused. Why HP? I think that Rowling is a great storyteller, and I love the story myself, it's just that I love lots of stories, but they haven't done for books and reading what HP has. I read an article (Why we're wild about Harry! Tamra Orr. Writing. Stamford: Oct 2000. Vol. 23, Iss. 2; pg. 4) that gave several reasons for this particular author's success:

    • Humor

    • Rowlings' descriptive power

    • Rowlings' knack for building suspense

    • The fact that the HP books share the qualities of all great fantasies, namely:

      • A wealth of detail

      • Fantasy world is consistent

      • Root the fantasy in reality

      • Emotional truth

    I would add that the HP books appeal to a range of ages. Many series are written at the same maturity level throughout. HP grows up in his series, and the storytelling grows up with him. I have often said that although a child in third grade might love HP 1 and 2, around HP 4 the books become more young adult and less juvenile. This makes Harry realistic and interesting for readers of all ages.

    I suppose the library stories will be on hold for a few months. I hope you enjoyed this brief look into the always interesting and sometimes frightening world of public librarianship. Stay tuned for more stories starting in October!

    Saturday, July 21, 2007

    Belly rubs and needy patrons

    Ah, my last few days here at the library before maternity leave. Let's take stock. In the last two days:

  • 3 patrons put their hands on my belly (without asking permission, of course).
  • 1 patron called to me for computer help from several yards away, "Excuse me! Pregnant lady!"
  • 2 more patrons informed me that I am having a boy.
  • 1 patron informed me that I am having a girl.

    Then there is the problem of my providing good customer service, also known as being nice. I never thought this was a negative character trait, but the past couple months are making me think that this is exactly the case.

    Yesterday a woman was using the computer to save a document (some sort of flyer on the healing power of meditation), and she asked for help. I immediately recognized her as one of our more annoying computer regulars. Her usual refrain is, "If you don't help me [insert Internet activity such as to access an electronic account without knowing her own password] I am gonna be homeless!" Nevertheless, I am here to serve, so I went with her to show her, slowly, how she could save her document to her floppy disk, as well as how to email the document to herself. She refused to allow me to show her how to attach the document to her email message, though, preferring that I help her "make the words go from here [pointing at Word doc] to here [pointing at email message]." I proceeded to show her how to copy and paste. Much like the I-know-what-I-am-doing patron of some posts ago, she exclaimed over the huge number of steps involved in accomplishing this. "How will I ever remember that tomorrow?" she wailed.

    I knew that if I didn't do something, she would just ask someone again tomorrow, and seeing as I am interested in helping patrons to become self-sufficient on the computers, I told her I would write up the steps for her. I typed them up and she was all gratitude. Thank goodness she then left.

    This afternoon, my coworker came to my desk in the back room where I was staffing the (extremely dead) phones. She said that a woman was asking for me (I assume "pregnant lady" was how I was described, seeing as she didn't know my name) to help her at the computer because yesterday I had "written her a note." I explained that I did write down the steps for her, but ew, "written her a note" sounds so personal, yuck!

    My coworker saved me by letting her know that I was incredibly busy, but geez, why can't people just accept help from whomever is at the desk??? I must develop my mean and sarcastic side to ward off all of these creepy hangers-on.

    It's hard being the librarian princess.
  • Monday, July 16, 2007

    Shoo, Mr. MLM, shoo, shoo!


    A coworker just came back to tell me that Mr. MLM is asking for me on the phone. I am not working on anything for him, so I told her to say I am on my maternity leave and won't be back for several months...well, this time next week it will be true, isn't that close enough?

    Saturday, July 14, 2007

    Friday the 13th

    Yes, Friday the 13th can bring out the weirdos...especially at the library. There were no less than three incidents at work last Friday.

    I. The Angry Guy
    A man was working on his laptop and simultaneously talking on his cell phone in the children's area. See the earlier post on cell phones to understand why this is particularly odious behavior. A staff member approached the guy and told him that cell phones aren't allowed in the library. The guy waved her away and finished his conversation, after which he began to freak out and verbally abuse the staff using some colorful expletives in the process. He also called the library a police state (?). He then went to check out his materials, cursing up a storm the whole time. Another staff member told him he was being disruptive and had to leave...but of course he wouldn't (they never do). The police were called, but the man left before they arrived (they always do).

    II. The Harry Hater
    A woman was observed approaching children in the children's section and trying to get them not to read Harry Potter books. She was told she needed to stay away from other patrons unless they approached her, so she went outside. Staff watched on the security cameras as she waved at each person entering the building, as well as approached cars that were driving by. Several other patrons complained about her creepiness, and one threatened to call the cops himself! Not sure how this one resolved...

    III. The Jewelry Hawker
    Yet another patron was seen displaying her handmade jewelry in the children's area and attempting to sell it to other patrons. This is not exactly what we mean when we say we can help you get started with your small business.

    My biggest concern is: all the weirdos are hanging out in the children's area! Yet parents consistently believe that this is a good place to leave their 4-year-old alone while they go upstairs to check their MySpace accounts.

    Why is it that you have to submit an application to adopt a dog from the Humane Society, but anyone can have a child?