Okay, I want to take this opportunity to lay out some ground rules for all-ya’ll who intend to use libraries at any point…ever.
Now I realize that I’m not really a librarian. Real librarians go to school to acquire a degree in Library Sciences; however, in my many moons of experience, I’ve learned that the public doesn’t know the difference. Granted, they generally assume I’m a student worker—as evidenced by the number of times I’m asked what my major is in any given week.
Anyway, long-story-short…if you’re behind a service desk at a library—you’re a librarian. There are a total of eleven people outside of libraries who can tell the difference and I know that none of them are reading my rants…so for the purpose of this blog…I’m a librarian.
Here goes Five Simple Rules…
This is a Library, Please READ the Signs
I don’t know how many times I’ve been working on getting the library prepared for opening when I hear people yanking on the door. Now these are MIT students, some of the smartest folks in the world. Yet it never fails. Despite the fact that the hours are posted smack dab in the middle of the same door they’re tugging on, they’re going to keep on tugging even though the place doesn’t open for another hour. They’re going to knock on the door to get my attention. They’re going to ask why they can’t come in and I’m going to have to tell them—in my nicest “librarian” voice—“Well, sir, it’s because we’re not open for another hour, as evidenced by our hours of operation listed on the door.”
I don’t like to use my librarian voice. I shouldn’t have to use my librarian voice. Heck, I shouldn’t even HAVE a librarian voice. I would like to respond with something along the lines of…“Well, I’m not going to let you in because clearly you can’t read and as such, this building is of no use to you…now be gone nerd…go split some atoms, play World of Warcraft or continue your pursuit of lifelong virginity.”
Yes, There ARE Stupid Questions
I realize that somewhere between kindergarten and the day you throw your graduation cap in the air, someone is going to tell you that you’re special. They are going to tell you that you can be anything you want to be and do anything you want to do. While they’re feeding you that line of bullshit they’re also going to tell you that it’s okay to ask for help and there is no such thing as a stupid question.
Well, here’s the thing, that’s a lie. That’s a really big f’n lie. There are millions upon millions of stupid, moronic and—dare I say—retarded questions. And, without a doubt, every single one of them will be asked time and time again in a library. Yes, libraries and librarians (both the legit ones and the publicly-perceived kind) possess a wealth of knowledge to help answer questions. What they do not possess is the time or patience that is required to answer the maniacal questions asked by the crazies who frequent libraries for warmth in the winter, air-conditioning in the summer and access to pornography all year-round.
Examples: These all came from one person and within about 15 seconds of each other…
1. Do you have DVDs of bike races? You know, for enthusiasts?
2. Do you have stock quotes from the week before JFK was assassinated?
3. Do you know where I can buy Bloomingdale’s women’s shoes?
4. Do you know where I can find aluminum foil manufacturers that will sell me a really wide sheet of aluminum?
Closing Time is NOT Optional
I don’t know what it is about bars and libraries, but they seem to be the only two places in the world that never stay open late enough for people. No matter what time I’m trying to “close up shop” as it were, there are at least a handful of people who—despite our three warnings that we’re preparing to close—act as though we’ve just blind-sided them with a kick to the stones. “What?! You’re closing now?! But I’m not done…” What they’re not ‘done’ with is generally browsing the internet, napping or—in one special situation at my last job—getting it on nerdy-style.
What I fail to grasp is how people seem to have no problem comprehending that stores close at a certain time and that’s when they need to leave. Restaurants close at a certain time and that’s when they need to leave. Hell, even strip clubs and adult video stores close at a certain time and some how the people who frequent those fine establishments now that’s when they need to leave.
Yet, for some reason unbeknownst to me the folks who camp out in libraries can’t wrap their minds around the fact that libraries close at a certain time and they need to hit the bricks. That’s right, librarians (again, real or perceived) have no desire to sit here all night while people giggle to themselves at the latest ‘Doonesbury’ or browse through some online photo gallery of your neighbor’s kids. No, believe it or not, librarians have lives of their own that they’d love to get around to partaking in. This is my job. This is not my free time. Once we close, I’m off the clock and you’re cutting into my beer-drinking-time…hit the road, jerk!
You’ve Got the Wrong Guy
Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times someone has come up to me with some ‘monumental’ problem and expected me to do something about it on the spot. They don’t like our hours or our selection of engineering DVDs or our fines policy or our new printers or the printers aren’t working or something else along those lines. Now usually I’ll proceed with caution–b/c if it’s something that’s got a nerd riled up enough to come to talk to a human, it’s clearly a big deal to them. As such, I’ll bust out the librarian voice and listen intently like there is actually some part of me that gives a rat’s ass about their unhappiness with our decision to move a certain collection into off-campus storage.
Eventually, after they’ve ranted, raved, bitched and moaned…they’ll give me that look like they expect me to rectify the situation. At this point I give them some sort of librarianized response that if translated back to normal person speak would sound like this…
“Dude, seriously…I’m sitting behind this desk on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon listening to you go on and on about something that means jack-shit to me. Do you honestly think I’m the guy who makes any sort of important decisions around this place? The people who make those decisions are at home right now, enjoying their weekends. Now move along and save your bullshit for someone who gets paid enough to deal with it.”
Do the Crime, Pay the Tiny Fine
If you’re late with your books—for the love of God, Allah, Buddha and Chuck Norris—just suck it up and pay your fines. I mean seriously.
A few weeks back a lady came in on a Saturday and actually used this phrase: “It’s just another scheme by the library to make more money.”
I’m sorry, what?! Listen up lady, the fact that you couldn’t get your books back to avoid a fine isn’t our fault. Believe you me, we weren’t sitting around plotting ways to keep your lazy ass from sauntering into the library. Seems to me like that would be a problem you have. Perhaps you’re not responsible enough to be allowed the right to borrow our books, since you’ve already had them since July and still couldn’t manage to get in here within the three-day grace period. You said that the emails we sent you—because apparently we need to be the ones to loom over you with your due date—went into your junkmail. Wow, clearly that’s another of our diabolical money-make schemes.
Listen up…we’re not lining our pockets on the fifty cents a day we get when you don’t have the common sense to return a book on time. And come on…it’s fifty-freakin-cents. You can afford to go to MIT and purchase that Gucci bag you were digging in to find a couple a quarters…but having to cough up a little silver is too much for you? Come on…
Let’s be real here, Chicky…if I were going to see any of the money that comes in from fines—like a commission of sorts—you know what, every book would be late. In fact, I wouldn’t see books any more…it’d be like the Matrix…I don’t see the books, I just see a new baseball glove, a new TV or perhaps just a stack of cold, hard cash.
So please, kindly move away from the desk to fill out your fine complaint form and I’ll be sure to pass it along to the appropriate person’s recycling bin immediately!