Working in a library can be quite thankless some days.
It seems that patrons want what they want and if you cannot provide it for them—no matter how nonsensical it may be—you’ve immediately become public enemy number one.
I’ve given some pretty ridiculous examples of situations like this in the past. It seems that there is a very large disconnect between what people think we can do and we can actually do at the circulation desk.
One thing they think we can do is magically stay open whenever they see fit.
This is pretty common all year ‘round, but really gets nuts around finals when everyone wants the library to be open at all hours of the night.
Granted, when we used to be open 24/7 for finals most of the students in the library—and it usually maxed out at around three people after 2am—would spend that time asleep and drooling onto their textbooks or chatting on Facebook, but that’s not what matters, what matter is they want the damn building open and available for those activities.
Given that they think this is a legitimate request, they always look at me like I’m some sort of moron or a huge liar when I tell them that we’re closing at 6pm.
They always question me.
This despite the fact that they have usually just read the hours sign on the door or desk and/or looked up the hours online ahead of time. Yet they still question me when I give them the exact same information they just read elsewhere.
I do not understand it.
If you’re not going to believe me response, why ask me in the first place?
Anyway, since we’re smack-dab in the middle of finals, there has been a whole big bunch of people questioning me about hours today. It happens most Saturdays, but like I said earlier, the frequency gets ramped up by about a bajillion percent during finals.
Here are some quick examples of conversations I’ve had in the last two hours that all fall into this same glorious category.
Sherman came sauntering into the library a little after 4pm. I heard him coming the second the elevator doors in the lobby opened because his iPod was so freakin’ loud that I could make out every word of the Bruno Mars song he was listening to at the time.
To his credit, he stopped to read the hours sign on the desk. He just didn’t, you know, believe they were accurate.
Sherman Scrutiny: “Are you really closing at 6pm?”
Cap’n Charisma: “Yep.”
Sherman Scrutiny: “…are you sure about that?!”
Cap’n Charisma: “Yes sir, we close at 6pm, every Saturday.”
Sherman Scrutiny: “…but it’s finals.”
Cap’n Charisma: “Right. We still close at 6pm, even during finals. The Hayden Library is open until 2am.”
Sherman Scrutiny: “Just 2am?! Pffffffftttt…”
Xavier came down to the desk in some sort of random panic at about a quarter to five. I don’t know if he thought we were closing at 5pm or what his deal was, but he was totally tweaked out, it could just be finals…who knows?!
Xavier Examination: “What time do you close?”
Cap’n Charisma: “We close at 6pm on Saturdays.”
Xavier Examination: “That doesn’t sound right.”
Cap’n Charisma: “…nope, it is. We close at 6pm, every Saturday.”
Xavier Examination: “Really?!”
Cap’n Charisma: “Yes.”
Xavier Examination: “…that’s weaksauce, man.”
Annie wandered into the library a little after 5pm—apparently the late bird catches the worm nowadays—and was appalled to learn (after reading the sign on the door, the subsequent sign on the desk and then asking me in person) that we close at 6pm tonight.
Annie Analysis:: “What time do you close?”
Cap’n Charisma: “Six’o’clock.”
Annie Analysis: “Are you sure?”
Cap’n Charisma: “Yes, I’m sure.”
Annie Analysis: “Seems awfully early to me.”
Cap’n Charisma: “Well, we always close at 6pm. The Hayden Library is open until 2am during finals if you need a place to study.”
Annie Analysis: “Hayden is open, but Barker isn’t? That’s stupid. Barker should be open, not Hayden.”
Cap’n Charisma: “I can’t really do much about that.”
Annie Analysis: “You could, like, not close at 6pm.”
Cap’n Charisma: “Riiiight, we can’t just ‘not close’ the library. Plus they stop paying me at 6pm. So there’s not a lot of incentive for me to stick around any later than that.”
Annie Analysis: “Well you could leave. We won’t mess with anything. I’ll even turn off the lights when I leave.”
I had to stop and stare at her for a second. Somewhere in this conversation, it seemed that Annie had gotten the idea she could legitimately get what she wanted simply be bargaining for it.
I had to admire the little scamp for her tenacity, even if it wasn’t going to do her a damned bit of good.
Cap’n Charisma: “You know we’re not bargaining here, right? We close at 6pm. Period.”
Annie Analysis: “Ugh! It’s so unfair the library doesn’t stay open late.”
Cap’n Charisma: “I just told you, Hayden is open late. So we do stay open late.”
Annie Analysis: “Whatever, it’s still not fair…”
Annie stomped off—likely to go Tweet about the injustices of this cruel, cruel world—and maybe ten minutes later the phone rang.
This was when I got to chit-chat with Quentin, who had looked the hours up online, but seemingly needed some sort of reassurance that the internet wasn’t pulling a fast one on him.
Quentin Query: “I was reading online that you close at 6pm.”
Cap’n Charisma: “That’s correct.”
Quentin Query: “So what time do you close?”
Cap’n Charisma: “6pm…like you just said.”
Quentin Query: “No, that can’t be right, it’s finals week.”
Cap’n Charisma: “Nope. That’s right. The Hayden Library is open until 2am, but none of the other libraries have extended hours.”
Quentin Query: “Well that’s just dumb.”
Cap’n Charisma: “…okay?!”
Somewhere around 5:30, Ivan came down to the desk. He’d clearly been given one of the early heads-up warnings that we are closing and he wasn’t buyin’ it. So he came down and hovered around the desk looking at all of the hours signage while I was helping another patron.
Once I’d finished helping the patron, he proceeded to inform me that—surprise, surprise—it was finals and, by golly, we needed better hours during finals.
Ivan Inquiry: “The sign says you close at 6pm, that’s not right is it?”
Cap’n Charisma: “Yes, that’s right. That’s why it’s on the sign.”
Ivan Inquiry: “You know it’s finals, right?”
Cap’n Charisma: “Oh, no, I didn’t…”
Ivan Inquiry: “Really? Does that change the hours?”
Cap’n Charisma: “No, I’m just messing with you. The hours here don’t change for finals. You can hit up Hayden until 2am, but everyone else is closing at 6pm.”
Ivan Inquiry: “That sucks!”
At roughly five minutes to closing, as the bulk of the students have been prodded out of the building by use of our finest tools (read: annoyance and turning the lights off), Aksana came to the desk to argue the merits of her case for sticking around the library after hours.
Aksana Asksaton: “If I want to stay around and study after 6pm, that’s okay, right?!”
Cap’n Charisma: “…um, no. We close at 6pm and everyone needs to be out of the building.”
Aksana Asksaton: “…but it’s finals. Does it help if I’m Graduate Student?”
Cap’n Charisma: “No, it doesn’t. We’re still closed at 6pm. You can go over to Hayden, they’re open until 2am.”
Aksana Asksaton: “No way, that place has mice. You’re sure I can’t stay here?”
Cap’n Charisma: “Positive. It’s Hayden or bust.”
As always, the final five or ten minutes spent ushering students out of the building and off into the world involved a lot of answering the same question over and over while people looked at me like I was completely full of shit and depriving them of their God-given right to stay in the library as long as they damn well please.
Whenever I’d say that we do REALLY close at 6pm, they’d all start looking for the hours sign, clearly thinking I’m a complete fool with no idea about the hours of operation.
By association, they also clearly think that all of our stacks students who go around giving them advance warning that we’re closing are idiots as well, because many people came to the desk and were all “some guy just said you’re closing” or “there’s this dude going around saying the place is closing.”
It’s like they think someone would find it amusing enough to go around trying to trick an entire library full of nerds into going home earlier than they need to.
Anyway…long-story-short, if you ask me when we close, don’t f’n question my response.