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…
Posted in Library Work
Tagged answers left unsaid, Brian Herzog, computer, duh, Librarian trainee, library, public libraries, reference librarian, reference questions, South Huntington Public Library, Swiss Army Librarian
As I discussed with one of my coworkers (one of the summer pages) during my break today, a career in libraries must really be the right path for me: for the last few months, my professional growth has progressed more smoothly than I could have ever hoped. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve recently been very blessed with two successive library jobs, along with acceptance to an MLS program. Thanks for letting me revel in the moment!
So, today was my first day working as a Librarian Trainee (“trainee” because I’m still working on my MLS degree.) I was nervous about not having many reference skills, but my fears were put to rest by my supportive coworkers. These lovely librarians guided me gently through my first day sitting at “the big desk.”
Here’s a sampling of all the interesting interactions I had with patrons today:
-registering kids for programs (ie, “baby boogie time,” such cute titles)
-signing kids up for computer stations
-finding Captain Underpants, Cam Jansen, and army-themed books on the shelves with kids
-helping parents schedule time to borrow museum passes (we have a very lucky library!)
I enjoyed the ebb and [very busy!] flow of my short shift. Even though some parts of the day were more busy than I could handle alone, I felt so satisfied helping so many people today – and I was lucky enough that most of the patrons were very friendly and patient with my emerging know-how. I’m really looking forward to my next shift on Friday, and to the next few months of learning on-the-job. Cheers to a great first day as a children’s Librarian Trainee!
Posted in Library Career, Library Work, Master's Degree - MLS
Tagged Cam Jansen, Captain Underpants, career, career ladder, children's books, Children's librarianship, children's library, children's literature, children's reference, computer stations, first job, graduate school, Librarian trainee, library, library career, library jobs, library school, literature, MLS, museum pass, part-time, public libraries, reference, South Huntington Public Library
For the first time, I think, I can accurately say that I’m “between jobs.” Since I’ve graduated from college, I’ve used this handy phrase to euphemize periods of unemployment to my family and acquaintances.
“But what’s different this time?” you might ask. Well, today I completed my last day of work as a Page in the Children’s department at my local library, and Tuesday, I’ll begin work as a Librarian Trainee in the same department. After going through the ups and downs of uncertainty about the likelihood of my promotion, I now know that the job’s mine. (Actually, one of the jobs – mine is one of three maternity leave positions).
Starting Tuesday, I’ll be working at “the big desk” in the children’s department, answering children’s and parents’ questions, registering patrons for programs, weeding out old books, working on readers’ advisory book lists, and perhaps even running some story time programs. Although this job will only last until Christmastime, it works out ideally for me, because it will give me the experience I need and crave, while only requiring six months’ worth of commitment. Not only that, but I’ll only be working around 11 hours a week, with a pay increase that will keep my paychecks about the same as they are now (score!). I’m not trying to brag, but I’m just so happy about this opportunity, one that I wouldn’t have imagined possible for another year or more. Usually, these positions go to MLS students nearly done with their degree. Viva la foot-in-the-door!
I’m excited and nervous, and I find comfort knowing that my coworkers have (and I hope, will continue to be) very supportive of this transition. Wish me good luck!