On today’s Swiss Army Librarian post, public library reference librarian Brian Herzog pokes fun at some nonsensical or unsympathetic questions posed by patrons. Below are some of the responses he would have liked to have offered, but did not, because he is a professional. This post is a gentle jab at those annoying queries at the library:
“I enjoy being a librarian, and working with the public. But it can be challenging, and sometimes you just need to vent. No matter what people ask me, I make sure the words that come out of my mouth are helpful and positive – however, those aren’t always the first words that spring to mind…here are some answers I have not given to questions patrons have asked me. You’ve heard of FAQs – now here are some ALUs (”answers left unsaid”):
Patron: The book isn’t on the shelf, on a cart, or behind the desk – where else could it be?
Answer: In someone else’s home.
Patron: This computer is loading slowly – should I just sit here and wait?
Answer: You could stand.
Patron: All the bathrooms are in use, where else can I go?
Answer: There are bushes outside.
[five computers in a row rebooted while a particular patron was using them because she keeps pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL, after I showed her that CTRL-ALT-DEL reboots computers]
Patron: I’m sure it’s not something I’m doing.
Answer: Hmm, then maybe they just sense danger.
Patron: The computer said the book I want is “Checked out.” Does that mean it’s checked out?
Answer: No, that’s just our way of deterring patrons who aren’t pushy enough.
Patron: The museum pass I want is already reserved for the day I want to go – can you cancel that person and give it to me?
Answer: Actually, you don’t need the pass at all – just go to the museum and they’ll let you in free if you tell them the secret code; it’s “I need to plan ahead.”
[patron on the phone]
Patron: Can you speak up, why are you speaking so softly?
Answer: Because I’m in a library.
[patron brings in a broken playaway, and I offer to request one from another library or to show him where the book is on the shelf]
Patron: You think I want to *read* this book?
Answer: You’re right, that might be asking too much.
Sigh, I hate speaking ill of people who come into the library and ask for help, but I’m sure we’ve all been there. The good news is that questions like the above are few and far between (but they’ll never be few and far between enough).”
Here’s my “answer left unsaid”:
[Patrons are given 30 minute sessions at the computer terminals. They get a 10 minute warning that pops up, telling them to ask the librarian to put more time on their session, provided no one else is waiting to use the terminal. Recently, two patrons came up to me after their time expired]
Patron: Can I have more time on my computer?
Answer: Sure, just go ahead and follow the warning – 10 minutes ago.
Does anybody else have a personal anecdote to share? Please do…