Friday, October 17, 2008

Consider Yourself

So apparently Wednesday was "Work Like a Patron Day." I thought this was such a good idea that I spent the day...

Chowing down on food at the computers
Chasing the other staff members around
Fighting over the comfy chairs
Arguing with friends and strangers
Randomly turning off computers
Tossing magazines on the floor
Yelling and swearing

Best day I've had in years.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Day in the Life

From a 3-hour shift on the desk yesterday...
  • Sorry, all copies of Breaking Dawn are checked out. Do you want to place a hold?
  • Please don't bounce the basketball in here.
  • We're out of pencils again.
  • First library card for a 13-year-old.
  • Sorry, all copies of Breaking Dawn are checked out. Do you want to place a hold?
  • All of the books on your summer reading list are checked out right now.
  • You need to sign in on the reservation computer.
  • Don't hit your sister!
  • Did that 8-year-old just give me the finger?
  • Can we find quotations about chocolate?
  • Sorry, all copies of Breaking Dawn are checked out. Do you want to place a hold?
  • No, you can't use my cell phone.
  • You can't bring your gecko into the library. Even if it's dead. Why are you carrying a dead gecko around...?
  • The local alternative school assigned 200 students to read A Child Called It.
  • You need to sign in on the reservation computer.
  • Sorry, all copies of Breaking Dawn are checked out. Do you want to place a hold?
  • Cecily Von Ziegesar
  • Don't hit your cousin!
  • No, nobody turned in your ipod. I'll check the lost and found.
  • Press 9 to dial out
  • Sorry, all copies of Breaking Dawn are checked out. Do you want to place a hold?
  • Get out of that website!
  • No, you can't practice your step routine in here.
  • A parent wants "age appropriate" urban fiction...for her 9 year old.
  • Stephenie Meyer...but all copies of Breaking Dawn are checked out. Yes, I'm sure. No, I don't need to check the catalog. No, we don't have any "in the back." Yes, I'm sure. Would you like to place a hold?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Sister's Keeper

A conversation from yesterday....

Girl (to friends): My mom said I can smack my sister if she's not good. See, watch! (Reaches to hit younger sister)
Me: You can't hit people in the library.
Girl: I can hit my sister! My mom said I can!
Me: You're not allowed to hit anyone in the library, even your sister. If you do, I'll have to ask you to leave.
Girl: Fine! I'ma tell my mom you tryin to get me to disobey her. (Walks away, muttering).

And a conversation from today....
Mother: You the woman who told my daughter she don't have to obey me?
Me: Excuse me?
Mother: Yesterday you told my daughter she can't hit her sister. Well, I told her she can! You gonna kick her out for obeying me?
Me: Ma'am, it's against the rules for anyone to hit someone else in the library. (I pull out our written rules and show her where it says that any violent behavior will not be tolerated).
Mother: Fine! I'ma have her go outside if she has to hit her sister.
Mother storms away.
I drop my head and bang it against the desk.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

All that Jazz

Crikey! I just opened mine eyes, and lo! I have not updated this since long before Shakespeare wast a boy. You would not believe that my hands were chopped off and I was waiting for bionic ones. I prostrate myself in sorrow and beg thy forgiveness.

I am totally and utterly flat out with learning to play lawn bowls, homeschooling five children, just generally being asleep, dreaming and chancing to the locals, my day is filled with fluorescent light from the second I am woken by murderous Teletubbies to well after sun-down. I am not being a whinging Pom or anything. it will be fun fun fun till they take my TBird away.

I swear on the bones of my ancestors I will update you with my nefarious activities as soon as I get a chance. You have my word! Don't hold your breath though, you're likely to turn blue...

The lazy blogger's post generator is one of the most fun things I've ever encountered. Strangely enough, my hands weren't actually chopped off - it's simply been ridiculously quiet in the teen department, and I don't have anything to snark on. If anyone has any ideas for topics, let me know - my inspiration seems to have temporarily run dry.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A Little Gossip

It has been very, very quiet in the teen department lately. We usually slow down for a few weeks in March, but it picks up again in the beginning of April. Thus far, it hasn't picked up again. People are being quiet, polite, and friendly, all of which are enjoyable at work but don't really make it easy to snark.

Prior to our quiet time, I was receiving a lot of those special threats and annoying statements that library patrons are so good at. I've also had quite a few of those questions that prove that the statement "There are no stupid questions - just stupid people" is absolutely true. I believe I've mentioned before that one of the hardest parts of my job is keeping my mouth shut and not letting my sarcastic answers out. Luckily, I can let them all out here.

My favorites:

The patron: "Do you have any books?"
What I want to say: "No - all of those things on the shelves around you are just props."

The patron: "I'm going to tell my mom/dad/grandma on you!"
What I want to say: "Awesome! I'd love to talk to them about how you make out with your girlfriend in the bathroom."

The patron: "I pay your salary!"
What I want to say: "Actually, our library gets less than 50% of our funding through tax money, and of that, your personal tax dollars probably account for about 12 cents. I'll happily refund your 12 cents if you shut the hell up and go away.

The patron: "No wonder nobody comes here!"
What I want to say: "So the 45 people in the teen department are all figments of my imagination?"

The patron: "I'm never coming back!"
When they say it: When they're getting escorted out for misbehaving.
What I want to say: So...I'll see you tomorrow, then?

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Nice Work if You Can Get It

I'm stealing an idea from the Annoyed Librarian (can you tell I'm an AL fangirl?) with this one. Occasionally she does a "library jobs that suck" feature, so when the following came through my inbox a few weeks ago, I first thought of sending it on to her. However, since I'm trying to post more frequently, I decided that I should just keep it myself. This was sent out on a state-wide mailing list - I've removed identifying information, but otherwise kept it exactly the same as when I first received it.

Subject: Part time Circulation Technician Position

The ****** Library is seeking an individual to fill a challenging and unique part-time position. A qualified candidate must possess computer knowledge and excellent communication skills. Experience with volunteer management, library circulation and fund-raising highly desired.

Responsibilities of the Position:

  • Create monthly and yearly reports as required
  • Train, recruit and schedule library volunteers
  • Train, schedule and supervise library pages
  • Oversee operation of the circulation desk
  • Create and Manage Patron’s library cards/accounts
  • Handle additional library projects as needed
  • Assist with library programming, scheduling, recruiting, designing, and promoting programs
  • Assist the library with fundraising; book sales etc.
  • Ability to handle difficult situations or patrons with diplomacy.
  • Manage requests for interlibrary loan materials
  • Maintain order on library bookshelves
  • Create monthly book displays


  • 25 hours per week
  • 20 hours vacation per year
  • Reports to the Director
  • Starting wages $10.00 per hour
  • Some evening and weekend hours required

Jobs like this piss me off. Clearly they need a full-time manager for the circulation desk, but they're too cheap to fork out for benefits. The cost of living in Pennsylvania is low enough that the $10.00/hour actually isn't horrible for a non-professional position (I started at slightly less - of course, that was nearly 10 years ago). But taking on scheduling, managing staff and volunteers, programming, shelving, and everything else for 25 hours per week? Unless the library is incredibly rural (which it isn't), I just can't see why anyone would take it.

But do you know what really pisses me off? Somebody will take that job. And all of the other crappy, low-paying jobs that are offered up. And when those of us who refuse to work crappy jobs for $10.00/hour and no benefits try to push for better salaries, we're laughed out of the room. I'm lucky - I'm fairly specialized, and not afraid to move, so I feel fairly confident that I'll never again have to work a crap job (I also have the advantages of a partner, no kids, and good health). But I also know a lot of young, passionate, enthusiastic people who would love to work in a library, but whose desire to pay their bills wins out. And that's pitiful.

Hmm...this is actually more ranty than snarky. I'm gathering some more "overheard conversations," so we'll be back to snark later this week (or next week....or next month....or July know, whenever I get around to the next post).

Monday, February 4, 2008

Weed Got Me Crazy

Sometimes I read stories about people who call the police after their drugs were stolen, or who get pulled over for speeding while they're transporting mass quantities of cocaine, and I wonder "how can people be that dumb?" So it was with surprise that I had the following encounter last week.

One of our regular customers came up, looking really stressed out. After a few moments of casual conversation, he asked if he could speak to me privately. We went into my office.

Me: "What's up?"
Him (mumbling): "Um, I think I lost something."
Me: "Okay, can you describe it for me?"
Him: "'s, like, a baggie. With, um, some green stuff."
Me: "What?"
Him: "Um, it kinda looks like oregano."
Me: "Are you actually asking me if someone turned in your marijuana?"
Him: "No!" He looked at the ceiling. "Um, did they?"
Me: "I really couldn't return illegal drugs if someone turned them in."
Him: "What? Why?"
At a complete loss for words, I stared at him for a few seconds.
Him: "Um, just kidding! Ha ha ha!"(runs out of the office)

I have to wonder - did he honestly think that I would hand him a bag of marijuana? I suppose it's nice that he trusts me, but in what universe is it okay to ask the librarian if someone turned in your weed?

Incidentally, someone did turn in the weed later that day, and we tossed it in the trash can.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

Wow, so it's been a million years since last I posted. So how's everything going for everyone? Good? Great!

The teen department serves between 50 and 80 people on an average school day, and between 100 and 120 people on an average school holiday or summer day. We generally have to ask 1 or 2 people to leave because they're breaking our rules on a school day, and 4 or 5 people to leave on a holiday or summer day - which means that approximately 2 or 3% of the people in our department are behaving so poorly that they need to leave the library - which also means that 97 or 98% of all people are behaving fantastically and causing no problems whatsoever.

So why is it that we remember the 2% so much better than the 98%? Honestly, there are kids who come in every day whose names I don't know, but I sure know the "bad kids," the ones we talk to constantly and ask to leave frequently. Is it part of the general human tendency to remember the bad stuff?

Anyway, the purpose of this post isn't to start thinking philosophically about why we remember the annoying kids, it's to discuss some of my favorite excuses. When kids are asked to leave, they generally come up with some reason why they shouldn't actually have to leave. Some of my favorites....

"But I didn't do it." This is by far the most common excuse. It doesn't matter if I watched them do whatever it was, they'll still claim that somehow my eyes were mistaken.

"He or she made me do it!"

"Come on, give me one more chance!" If you're being asked to leave, you've already had a minimum of three chances (unless someone does something really egregious, like threating staff or starting a fight, we give three warnings before asking anyone to leave).

"You're not my mom! You can't tell me what to do!" No, I'm not your mom, and I'm very grateful for that fact. However, I can tell you what to do when you're in this building. Which you won't be, shortly.

"I can't leave because my mom is upstairs." Your mom's upstairs? Great! Let's go talk to her. I'd be happy to explain that you were smoking pot in the bathroom/making out with your significant other on the sofa/screaming loudly/doing backflips/whatever it was. Oh, she left? How surprising.

"He started it!" It's possible that this one is true some of the time. However, no matter what he said to you, picking up a table and threatening to hit him with it is not an appropriate way to deal with your problems.

"I have to stay with my cousin/brother/friend." Is this the same cousin/brother/friend that you've been ignoring for the past 2 hours? There's a bench outside that you can sit on while you wait.
I'll even let you take a book or magazine to keep yourself entertained.

"You always pick on me!" No, no I don't. You continually break the rules.

"I can't get back into my house because I don't have a key." That's very unfortunate. I'd be happy to let you call someone to let you back into the house, but you still need to leave. If you can't get in touch with someone, you can wait on the bench outside until someone comes to pick you up.

"But I need to do my homework!" You've been here for 3 hours using myspace and youtube between times of running around, flirting, and yelling. Perhaps you should have done your homework first.