Monday, July 25, 2011

Always check the shrubs

From Dee in Iowa:

Today we had a group of community service in and I had them washing the windows on the outside. They came back in with three of our cake pans that they had found in the bushes. I called the patron who said we were closed when he tried to return them last night. He added that the Rec. Center side of the building was also closed and that the pans would not fit in the drop box (not true—we tried and they fit) so he had no choice but to “hide” them in the bushes. He was going to call today to let us know where the cake pans were “hidden” but “forgot”. I was so flabbergasted that I “forgot” to remind him that he could call/e-mail or even return them to his local library and they would mail the pans back to us. I am going to do that now so he won’t need to “hide” library material from now on. Anyway, the moral of the story is always check the plantings around your library for “hidden” treasure. We are still shaking our heads in wonderment.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Talk about a privacy issue!

This is a story that I was told by a co-worker of mine a while back. To give some background on the issue: I also work at a hospital library that is also open to the general public and patients. The woman in this story comes in on a fairly regular basis and is known to get very moody and approaches library staff with some very strange requests - including this one.

One Saturday afternoon she came up to our reference librarian requesting that the librarian log on to her personal Facebook account to see if some man was "really dead". Apparently the man had blocked/deleted the patron from his Facebook for whatever reason and so she wanted to see the dates/times that he had last posted status updates because he, or someone else, claimed he had died recently (probably to get away from her). The librarian said that no, she could not do that, as it's a matter of privacy. (AKA: if you were meant to have access to information on his Facebook, you would still be on his friends list!)

The patron then proceeded to get very belligerent and told the librarian she "probably didn't know how to use Facebook anyway". She then went around and asked each of the circulation staff to log on to their Facebook accounts to spy on this man for her. None of them would do it for her either and she left very unimpressed.

I wonder if anyone else has had an experience with this issue in their own library? I can totally see creepy and "out there" people trying to use reference staff to spy on ex-partners and ex-friends.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Puberty @ the library.

A short one, but a sweet one, submitted by a public library staff member in the United States:

A 4th Grade boy comes in and very matter of factly tells a co-worker and I "You're going to be seeing me with some zits. I'm starting the puberty!" And I kept a straight face all the way back to my desk! I LOVE my job.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Skippin' school

Our first patron submission! I thought this was very cute. From Rachel in San Francisco:

I love libraries. I love the hunt for information and the discovery of great books. My fondness brings me to the library so much that I've collected a few stories of my own even though I don't work there (but I sometimes wish I did).

My love affair with libraries began when I was little. So little that I had to reach above my head to access the top row of the card catalogue. Every trip with my mother I would go to find more fairy tale and folklore books to absorb. When I got older (my teens) I started to look at symbolism and Wicca. I went through every single book available at my local branches and school library which was easy because they were so limited.

It was around my 7th grade year that my friend told me about the new main library in San Francisco. I had never been and was so thrilled at the prospect of a 6 story building dedicated to books. Needless to say my friend and I decided we would go ASAP, only we decided to go right after homeroom. Anyone who has ever been to the SFPL main branch can tell you that the neighborhood is not the place for 13 year olds. The journey down there is a story unto itself.

We spent the rest of the school day perusing to our heart's content. When I got home later, my mother asked "why did she get a call from the school about my truancy". I explained to her that I felt I would learn more at the library than at school. My mother, understanding the many holes in the public education system here in San Francisco, replied "Oh. Well, don't get caught next time."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Funny phone calls #001

This one submitted by Glenda, at a public library:

Ring, ring, ring….

Glenda: **** Public Library, this is Glenda.
Caller: *High-pitched cartoonish voice* Hello...who am I talking to?
Glenda: This is Glenda.
Caller: Well, Linda (This is when I knew I was in for it!) this is Mary Smith.
Long awkward pause...I never know if I’m expected to say something here
Glenda: Hi Mary, what can I help you with?
Caller: Do you deliver books?
Glenda: Sure. We have a book basket program that is delivered every other week.  It went out the end of last week, so if you need something now, we’d be happy to get it to you.  What do you like to read?
Caller: Well, I’ve been hearing quite a lot about Shakespeare and I think I’d like to read it.
Glenda:  Which one of Shakespeare’s works would you like to read?
Caller:  He has more than one?
Glenda: Yes, he wrote a lot. (The other librarian in the office is now almost rolling on the floor while I try to maintain a professional voice.)
Caller: I’d like the first one.
Glenda:  OK, I can find that for you. What’s your address?
Caller: *Silence*...Don’t you know it? I have a membership at your library...I get a little confused with all the medication I’m on...
Glenda:  I can look that up. *checking in computer* Do you still live at 123 Main Street?
Caller:  No, I don’t live there anymore. *Silence as she waits for me to guess again*
Glenda: Wait a minute let me get the phone book. *Frantically flipping pages to find it while trying not to laugh out loud.*  Is it 321 First Street?
Caller: *excited, as if I had the right answer on Jeopardy!* That’s it!
Glenda:  I’ll bring you a book this afternoon. See you then.

I hang up, burst into laughter until the tears are rolling down my face.
So, naturally I delivered  “Collected Works of Shakespeare, Vol. 1 to her. Think she’ll enjoy it??

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Returning library books 101

Yesterday afternoon, right before close of course, I had a patron come to check-out who had an extremely overdue library book. I explained to him the situation and he insisted that he had returned the book (we get this all the time).

Eventually my supervisor also came up to speak with him, and then we soon found out that when an employee had previously told the patron that he could return his books to any public library, he thought it meant that he could return his books to anywhere in the city - so he had put his library book in a mailbox!!

His checkouts for that day were all for EAL/ESL books and he is obviously new to the country, so I'm not surprised at the communication breakdown. But I'm still not sure that he completely understands that the books need to be placed in a library book chute, not just any random chute in the side of a building. I start laughing every time I think about this. You really had to be there for the conversation.

Hopefully one of the employees at the post office will be nice enough to bring the book back to us!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No fun allowed!

I laughed out loud at this one. Totally a tale about that "cranky librarian" all of us remember running into during our childhood at one point or another.

LibrarianJessie's tale:

When I first started out as a department head of a small public library, I grappled with the problem of managing a very small town staff…

Dress codes: Please wear shoes, no halter tops or short-shorts.
Censorship: No, you can’t toss out that book because it deals with a religion or political stance you don’t approve of.
Theft: No, you can’t have this week’s TV Guide because “the other librarian always let me have it”.

But what really stands out in my mind? One afternoon, one of my older, straight-laced library clerks came to me and asked, “What is your policy on children having fun in the library”. I thought she was joking. When I realized she really expected an answer, I told her I hoped the kids would have fun and grow up to be adults who would remember how much they loved libraries. And that perhaps they would bring their own kids to the library – and might vote YES on that library referendum and tax increase.

I like noisy libraries and noisy patrons.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


I especially loved this submission because we had a very similar incident occur at my own library not too long ago. At first I wondered if the patron described below was dressing up for dress like a pirate day (talk like a pirate day?), but then realized that it probably did not exist 20 years ago when this story happened.

Last year we had an employee at my library come in to work dressed up as a pirate for what he claimed was dress like a pirate day. Staff and patrons were equally freaked out and amused! Our dress code was (and is) so slack and undefined that the supervisors couldn't even find grounds to send him home to change! So for the whole day we had a pirate sitting at our circulation desk! He had even requested to talk like a pirate as well, but that was decidedly "too much" and the supervisors wouldn't give him permission to do it.

Now, on to the story from Kerry From Everywhere:

This happened in NYC almost 20 years ago and stands out as one of the definite highlights:

I'm originally from the Midwest and this was in my first year as a librarian and in NYC. A customer walks in with a pretty standard reference question. However, he is dressed as a total pirate. And I don't mean a Long John Silver generic pirate - an actual crusty, salty pirate. And he has a similarly-attired monkey on his shoulder. Still green in the profession and not sure what to do, I shook the monkey's hand and fully answered their reference question. It was only as they walked away that I noticed that he was also sporting a full sword and scabbard attached to his hip. He had broken two rules of the library - no pets and no weapons...but he and the monkey were both such gentlemen, I'm glad that I handled it the way that I did. My parents still remember the phone call I made to them that night.