Thursday, June 30, 2011

The aliens are on their way!

This one is from Becky in Illinois and is a great example of the smile and nod technique that I find myself using quite frequently:

I work in a moderately large public library in Illinois.  I have one regular patron, approximately 80 years old, who comes in to read the newspapers and magazines daily.  He has a strong interest in fusion, cyanobacteria, stem cell research... anything that he can find in an issue of Discover, Science News, National Geographic and Popular Science.  He usually spends about 30-40 minutes at my desk telling me all about the articles he's been reading.

Lately, he's been reading a lot of Ruth Montgomery books, particularly the ones about enlightened beings from outside of our solar system.  Out of a staff of roughly 23 people, he has chosen me to go with him and colonize a new planet.  We are just waiting for the earth's axis to shift 90 degrees.  When it does so, the enlightened beings are going to step in and help us out.

I can't rightly tell him that my eggs are creeping up there in age and that he might want to consider taking my much younger genealogist with him for this purpose.  Until I can relay these things, I just smile and nod.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

FBI and CIA approved

From Heidi in Australia, who can't get away from the crazies no matter which branch she's at!:

Several years ago I’d been working in a small, one person branch library but did a six month stint acting in a higher position at one of our main library branches. I’d not been long back at my little branch when a patron broke in to the branch, leaving a copy of a book I’d recommended to him in tiny little shreds and the door wide open.

Badly frightened, I was moved back to the main branch for a few weeks while the dust settled.

A regular there quizzed me on why I was back. I told him I’d had some trouble with a patron at my own branch. When he’d established that the patron was the trouble-maker, not me, he told me he could “take him out for you, mate.” “It’s OK,” I told him, “xxx (Library Manager)’s got it all under control.” “No really, mate,” he replied, “I’m FBI and CIA approved. I can take him out for you.”

More urgent demurring from me . . . my manager has it under control . . .

Monday, June 27, 2011


Why do some people insist on stealing materials from the public library when they can be checked out for free?

I do not know of any library that doesn't have at least a short list of "lost materials" at year end. Granted there will always be a few items that slip through the cracks or are misplaced at some point during the year, but patrons who intentionally rip off barcodes, covers, and/or magnetic strips have always irked me to no end. Or there are always the books that are destroyed or removed by a patron who, in their infinite wisdom, has decided is not suitable for the collection and therefore no one else should have access to it. Replacing things time after time gets costly.

Just come on down to the circulation desk people - we will be more than happy to lend you the items! Really!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another one from back in the days of shelving...

This one is from sometime back in January of 2010.

As I'm walking back to my cart to grab another handful of books for shelving, the following conversation ensues:

Creepy Male Patron: Hey ma'am!
Me: *Turns around, with my ever perfect "ready to serve" smile* (I always initially expect the best from everyone.) Yes?
Creepy Male Patron: I know you from somewhere! *weird sideways look*
Me: No, I don't think so?
Creepy Male Patron: Really? You're my age aren't you?
Me: *blank, unimpressed stare*
Creepy Male Patron: 29.
Me: Haha...nope. (At this point I'm thinking "okay buddy, I know what game you're playing at, just give it up already.)
Creepy Male Patron: Oh! University of ****?
Me: ...No.
Creepy Male Patron: Well, there's never a bad time to be introduced to someone! I'm ****.
Me: And I'm ****, nice to meet you then.
Creepy Male Patron: *Starts to walk even closer to me, yabbering on about something I don't quite remember at this point*
Me: *Walking away to maintain my special box of personal space* Sorry, but I have work to do.

After the first few times, it becomes very annoying when socially awkward men come to the library seemingly for the sole purpose of creeping on a girl. Things like this happen all too frequently to myself and many of the other girls who are shelvers at my city's main public library branch (which is in the heart of our downtown, of course).
I can see why some of our more seasoned staff who work in reference and circulation prefer to remain behind the desk; working out on the floor affords too many opportunities for what I refer to as full contact librarianship.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Adventures of a Library Page #001

So there I am, minding my own business, filing books back on the shelves in proper dewey order when a patron comes up to me and asks if I can show him some books on giving speeches. "Well sure!" I say. We walk over to a computer terminal and I start a quick search for books on the subject. Then to my surprise he pulls out some random CD (which is now at home in a trash can) and insists I check it out along with his flyer. He starts going on and on about a great business opportunity where you "can be a customer but sell things too"! It reminded me very much of pyramid scheme propaganda and trickery. The icing on the cake? I was encouraged to attend a super secret, exclusive meeting that I would have to pay for!

I'm guessing the patron was researching public speaking for the so-called "business meeting" he was so fanatic about. Finally I cut him off and gave him my best "no nonsense" look and asked if he still wanted to know where the books on public speaking could be found. He did and I quickly showed him to the area and recommended a few titles.

Poor, mislead guy - I have a feeling that he is going to be a very poor man soon. Perhaps instead of researching public speaking, he should be reading up on how to recognize pyramid and get rich quick schemes and why they rarely, if ever, work. (Speaking of which, as a result of this incident I discovered that there is actually an entire website devoted to calling out such scams: Pyramid Scheme Alert.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

First Post

After working in a public library for several years I have accumulated all kinds of crazy stories to tell. After my animated re-tellings, friends and family often joke with me about how I should create a website to share some of my funny, crazy, and touching experiences from work - so this blog has been long overdue!

Please feel free to submit some of your own "tales from the library" - whether you are a patron or an employee! The good, the bad, the unexpected, scary, hilarious, horrendous, enlightening, and of course the crazy - you can email them all to me, along with your name, at
(Neither your email nor your last name will be published - only your first name or screen name.)

I look forward to hearing from you all, and to sharing some of my own experiences with the world as well!