Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Library Lagniappe -- special Halloween version

Zombie librarian
A friend of mine suggested that I do a "scary librarian" post for October, which I thought sounded like a good idea --- but then, I realized I could do a "scary patron" post much more easily.   So, here's a Library Lagniappe about some of the top kinds of scary patrons:

 1)  The drinker.   Once in a while, I have someone come up to the desk who has had a bit too much before they walked in the library (their fumes usually precede them).  I try not to think about how they arrived (because the thought that they drove here is pretty awful).    These patrons tend to ask somewhat odd questions, or completely garble their question, making it a bit tricky to help them find what they need.  On occasion, they can become a bit testy, making things tricky for staff.  Luckily, I've never had someone become violent.  

2) The stinker.  'Nuff said, I think --- I know that some people can't help it, so I'm not hard on these people.  However, whether it's too much perfume, heavy nicotine smell, or just plain old b.o., I'm glad we have a small fan at the desk (we don't have great air circulation in our library, so this little fan comes in handy).

3) The "charmer."   While this kind of male patron can be somewhat amusing, he can be pretty annoying.  The Charmer likes nothing more than to ask a question that involves going down into the stacks, where he can then chat you up (and ask you out) while you're trying to find what he's looking for.   His other tactic is to come up to the desk and take something off of it (like your pen) while trying to come off as cute and funny.  Uh, yeah.  No.

4) The Interrupter.  Many people are in a hurry when they need something, which I understand.  However, it's difficult to help someone when they keep talking over you and interrupting you when you are trying to determine what they need.  These patrons will start off by asking if we have something, and then, as I'm trying to tell them, keep talking over me.  I always stop, because I feel that it's easier to let them talk.  Also, they might be saying something that will help me locate what they want.  However, it's frustrating when you're trying to explain that yes, we have it, or no, we don't, but we can get it ..... and they just don't let you finish a sentence.    We have a few patrons who are constantly doing this, and after a while, you just dread it when they call.

5)  The Nothing-Makes-Me-Happy Complainer.  I understand that it's frustrating when you go to the library and they don't have what you want.  However, it's kinda not cool to start complaining, and then be unhappy no matter what the solution is.   Example: Person comes in, needs a book for a class, and we don't have it.   They're not happy that we don't have it (which I understand).  Then, they're not happy that it will take 5-7 days to interlibrary loan it.  But, they're also not happy to learn that it's at a library about 20 minutes from us, where they could pick it up (why should they have to drive?).  Then, they're not happy that we just don't have every textbook for every school here.   This is the kind of person who is just determined to be unhappy, no matter what.  This person also usually starts to broaden their complaints to other things, like the fact that we only have one entrance, that they don't understand why we don't have more movies, etc etc etc.   We do what we can, but unfortunately, I can't wave my magic wand and make everything better.  

6)  The "Aren't You the Meanest Librarian" Glarer:  This is the person who doesn't like it when staff politely ask them to: please take their cell phone call away from the computer area (because there are signs clearly stating we don't allow calls in that area), or to please turn down their headphones (because if I can hear what you're listening to where I sit, which is about 20 feet from the computers, it's too loud).   They feel that someone like me must be the meanest, most awfulest librarian ever --- at least, that's what they like to convey with their glares.   Yeah, sorry about that.  I suppose I'm just so mean because I politely ask you to do something that either is bothering everyone else, or just isn't allowed (and this is the only area that we don't allow calls in the entire library).  Yes, wouldn't it be just so nice if I'd leave them alone?  Actually, yes, for me and for the person.  However, my boss expects me to do my job.  Which is being a Mean Librarian.  Yep!  That's me!

7) Lastly, the Non-Thanker.   I don't know of a really good word for this kind of patron, so I made that up.   It's always kind of a downer when you spend time helping someone and they don't even say thanks.  I don't need praises, or roses, or chocolates, but a small thank-you always makes me feel absolutely great.   Not that it's all about making me feel good, mind you, but this is something that if you help several people like this in a row, you need to take a break and go have a piece of chocolate to feel better about things.

This post has been brought to you courtesy of all of those bad patrons --- and is something I'm including in the Bookie Brunch Trick or Treat Hop.   Please follow the link to learn all about it and to see who else is participating (lots and lots of fun things!)


Amanda Makepeace said...

Great post! That's zombie librarian is awesome. I've heard some of these stories from my mother who, before moving up to Admin area of the University of Georgia Libraries, worked at the main desk. There are quite a few homeless that try to make an extended stay in the stacks and game days are a nightmare!

Sherre said...

Great post. I dont go to libraries often, but notice that these people are everywhere dealing with customer service. As for the nothing makes me happy complainer....ummm did it ever occur to you that you can usually find out if people have stuff online. Maybe you shoulda checked there before you blindly decided to just come on in and assume everythin in the world is going to be in one place. Common sense says that there is no way that every item you need in the entire world is going to be in one place. Find out where it is and go there.

Peaceful Reader said...

Very funny. It is tough being the mean librarian but someone has got to do it! I could easily make a list like this for my elementary students; the best excuses for why my library book is NOT here!

AimeeKay said...

Thank you for the wonderful post! I really love the zombie pic. I used to work in a library as a teen helping shelve books. While my age generally gave me immunity from the patrons, it didn't stop me from seeing what the librarians went through. Your post brought back a lot of memories.
Maybe if you went in costume as the librarian in the picture they would be more inclined to leave you alone? lol
Happy Halloween!

Jo K said...

Great post! I admire you for dealing with such people on daily basis without losing your patience. I notice these kinds of people in the library where I go and sometimes I have to bite my tongue not to say anything to them to be be polite and not blame the librarian for all their problems.

Chrystal said...

Great post! I love the zombie librarian image and your comments about each type of patron could totally work for me too (I work at a bank). LOL

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