Monday, March 28, 2011

Why Your Librarian Doesn't Like You

A while back LISNews shared a blog post on twitter by titled This Is Why Your Used Bookstore Clerk Hates You.  I tweeted back, "I could write the list for why librarians hate you!"  Most of what I deal with day-to-day working at a public library was never covered in graduate school.  If it had been, I would have probably transferred to underwater basket weaving ... or at least IT.  So here are 12  reasons why librarians wish certain people would go elsewhere.

1 - You consider us a babysitting service.
I noticed a young boy wandering the stacks alone for more than 30 minutes, so I went to talk with him.  He was four-years-old.  "My Mommy went to get gas for the car and then she is coming back," he told me.  This is one of the worst cases I've encountered.  Most of the time, the caregiver is at the Internet stations while their young child pulls all the DVDs off the shelves looking at the cover pictures, or plays tag in the stacks with a sibling.  Sometimes it's an eight year old caring for their three year old cousin.  As one mother told me when I called her to come pick up her two very young children, "I've taught my children how to behave in a library, and my babysitter knows that they're here, so what's the problem?"  The problem: Librarians are not babysitters.  We can't keep track of your kids and do our job.  And we know all to well what you obviously don't -- not everyone in the library is a trustworthy member of society there to conduct library business.

2 - You cruise in and out several times a day to see who's hanging out.
There's nothing in the library you want, except to see who's hanging out.  You case the joint, leave, and return an hour later.  We notice you, and wonder at how boring your life must be.  Why not grab a book and read?  Or just go to the park across the street. 

3 - You want to use the Internet computers but don't have a library card, any identification to obtain a free library card, or $2 for a guest pass. 
All businesses require an ID and/or money in exchange for goods and services. The same is true at a library. It doesn't help if you argue.

4- You smell.
When I began working in libraries, I was told that, "body odor is not a problem behavior."  We're taught to grin (meaning hold your breath) and bear it.  Please.  Your body odor is highly repulsive.  It's difficult to assist you when we can't breathe in your presence.

5 - You put lots of books on hold then never come for them.
It's not a magical process.  When you place a book on hold, that information appears on a daily report.  Staff go to the stacks to look for each book placed on hold, take them to the back to scan, place hold identification slips in each book, cart them to the hold shelf, and shelve them alphabetically by your last name amidst the hundreds of other holds.  If you don't pick up a hold, the title shows up on another report, and the process is reversed.  It's a lot of wasted time and energy, reminiscent of moving rocks from one pile to another and back again.

6 - You take the DVDs out of the cases, put the cases back on the shelves, and smuggle the DVDs into your personal collection.
It's called stealing, and it reduces the amount of free material others can borrow.

7 - You use the library as your telephone booth.
Remember those?  The library is not a telephone booth.  We can hear your entire conversation, and it's disrupting those who are reading, studying, and working on the computers.  Go outside.  If it's raining, go sit in your car. If you don't have a car ...

8 - You use the library to conduct job interviews.
You're having a conversation.  We can hear you, and so can everyone else who is there to conduct library business. 

9 - You flirt with the library staff on your every visit.
If you're George Clooney or the like, we're okay with this.  Otherwise, leave us alone.  We don't want to see a picture of your chick magnet car.  We don't want to be invited to accompany you to the Bahamas.  We don't want to have coffee with you, or give you our telephone number, or hear about your marital problems. 

10 - You don't silence your cell phone.
Once, it's a mistake.  But twice, three, four, ten times -- so that by the time you leave we have your ring-tone memorized -- you're being disrespectful of all those in the library.  We've posted signs to remind you: "Please silence your cell phone."  As I tell my colleagues, when I become Library Queen, I'm going to ban cell phones from all libraries.

11 - You argue about every fine, every time.
You signed an agreement when you registered for your FREE library card.  You agreed to pay fees on materials returned late, and to pay for the replacement of materials lost or damaged while checked-out on your card.  What's amazing about this one is that usually those who owe big bucks -- like more than $50 -- pay up without any mouth.  Those owing less than $1 usually argue the most.

12 - You are the reason we have to call the police.
Your young child is left at the library and we can't reach you; you kick the window in on the front door because we wouldn't issue a free guest pass; you yell loudly at staff to make an exception for you because no one will know -- except that everyone is now gathered around listening; you drop a bunch of uncased DVDs while heading toward the door; you get into a fist-fight with someone you cruised in to look for.   Police calls result in stress and mountains of paperwork, which result in loss of sleep, which result in us liking you even less the next day when we're tired.

And you thought librarians worked with books!


  1. and I thought library admin was bad!

  2. I love this post! So glad I found your blog (from your Twitter postings of Paris photos). I knew there was a reason I *really* didn't want to be a librarian (I read Marilyn Johnson's book and became enamored with the profession); I can imagine how hard it must be! One of my biggest pet peeves is on this list--people who talk on their cell phones so everyone can hear or because they WANT everyone to hear! Very annoying and pompous.