All These Books And They Still Can’t Spell “Respect”

, , , | Working | July 19, 2021

At a time when libraries still used actual film projectors and reels to show films, the large central library in my city had but three projectors. One was in the children’s area and that was sacrosanct. The other two were the responsibility of the reference department.

We had, have, and will likely always have a governing board made up of the most entitled humans on the planet. As far as they are concerned, we are their personal slaves (and they have been heard to say that untrained chimps could do the job of a professional librarian) and everything in the library exists for their personal use. Their library fines are always wiped clean, books are set aside for them for months, and… they get to use the projectors, and too bad if they are needed for a program.

At the time of this story, our head librarian was an arrogant nit who believed the library existed to pay her for telling any and everyone that they could do some previously taboo action.

Take out movies without checking them out? Sure. Forcing a librarian to type up a report for a board member’s child? Great idea. Have a librarian accompany a young, strong, able-bodied board member through the stacks and act as both sherpa and llama? Excellent.

And, of course, loan out the projectors and forget to mention who has them.

We had several back-to-back programs that required a film projector. The second projector was missing. And it remained missing for months on end. NO ONE, including the director, knew where the projector was. Meanwhile, we were pushing the malfunctioning first projector back and forth between programs and sometimes during programs.

One afternoon, here comes a board member, carrying his briefcase and the second projector.

Board Member: “Hi, I told [Library Director] I was taking this out and explained why it’s a little late. So I am bringing it back today.”

Colleague: “When did you take it out?”

Board Member: “Oh, it was just a couple of days ago.”

He gives a date two months ago. My colleague stares blankly and sighs.

Colleague: “Okay.”

Board Member: *Now cranky* “Well, [Library Director] said! She said I could have it for a program on [date two months ago]. I didn’t have it that long!”

[Colleague] noted to all and sundry that the projector that was lost had returned to us… and let everyone know what constituted a “couple of days” in the Board Members’ lexicon. Sure, it was petty, but it allowed the rest of us to know that we weren’t completely crazy thinking that the Board had very little respect for us or for the patrons.

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Hold Onto Those Books, And Your Job, Part 2

, , , , , , | Working | July 17, 2021

I’m the submitter of this story and I thought some folks might enjoy a couple more examples of how lazy this librarian was.

He didn’t like fiction or religious books and would do anything to avoid adding them unless forced. He only liked to add books on subjects he enjoyed, even if they didn’t circulate well. He especially hated romance novels. I kept telling him that, as a public library, we can’t just stock what we like and it has to be well-rounded, but he wouldn’t listen. I complained to the manager at the time and she tried to say that he doesn’t have as much control over the collection as he claims.

Patrons would complain about how we weren’t adding a lot of new fiction — only what headquarters would send, nothing extra like other libraries do — and especially how we didn’t have any new romance novels. I’d tell them to tell the librarian as I wasn’t in charge of purchasing, but he’d pretend to not get these requests, even if he was standing next to me as they complained and begged for new fiction books. His excuse was always, “Well, they didn’t tell ME!”

Finally, I went behind his back and contacted someone I knew at HQ who was an expert in romance novels and which ones to buy, especially when we got multiple requests for ones that had main characters that weren’t white. She sent five bags of romance novels to our branch.

The librarian intercepted these bags and stuck them in what we came to call “the closet of no return.” It’s where he’d stick anything he didn’t want to put out until it was in there so long he could secretly discard it — mostly donations, even if the item was brand new and in demand.

The manager at the time finally started catching onto what he was doing. When he didn’t add the romance novels, despite being asked about it repeatedly, she waited until he was on vacation. Then, she grabbed all the bags and we all worked together to get them into the computers and on the shelves before he returned. When he saw all those brand new romances where there had just been a few tattered ones before, his face became white and tight with barely-suppressed rage. But he couldn’t say anything.

After that manager retired and we got the one he became BFFs with, he got worse with his laziness. He and the manager would stay all day in the office together with the door shut, doing no real work. Neither would come out except for bathroom breaks and lunch until the manager’s husband came to pick her up.

One time when the manager wasn’t there and he was in charge, he tried to force me to throw out a woman with a service dog. I kept telling him that, since he was in charge, he needed to go up and ask her, “What is your dog trained to do?” as that’s all you’re legally allowed to ask. He refused, so I went to do it, reported that it was a service dog and that we couldn’t throw her out just because he didn’t like dogs. Later, the manager told me I should’ve thrown her out, anyway, “because he told you to.”

He would give his work to the library assistant without telling her what it was he wanted her to do, i.e. handing her a list of books checked out to repair that were massively overdue by several months and just saying, “Look for these.” Instead of looking on the repair shelf to see if they were there, she was looking on the shelves. I was the one who had to inform her what the list was for, and I ended up being yelled at by my supervisor at the time for “telling someone higher up than you what to do,” though she calmed down when I told her what had really happened.

He also didn’t want to evaluate books for possible discard. At the time, I wasn’t allowed to discard a book, even if it was sopping wet and growing mold. I had to check it out to repair, write a note as to what was wrong, and hand it to him. Books that had split down the middle, pages falling out, torn-out pages, etc. — he would just check them back in and stick them on the shelf without even looking at them because he didn’t want to be bothered. I finally had to start getting tricky with him. I’d take the falling-out pages and rubberband them to the outside of the book, put the checkout slips into the split spine in such a way that they curled and tucked behind where the pages were supposed to be attached to the spine, etc. It was the only way I could get him to take the two seconds it would take to just discard the darn things.

As the lead adult librarian, he was supposed to arrange for programs for adults. For a while, he would just bring in the same old guitar player all the time until patrons started to complain. The guy wasn’t that good of a singer and it was boring having the same program over and over again. So, he finally started doing other programs, except he wouldn’t advertise them properly such as having them put into the website calendar, making fliers on time, etc. Each program he did he just advertised less and less until he was basically not advertising them at all. Then, because he had several programs in a row fail due to his lack of work, he claimed that “No adults want programming” and used his laziness as an excuse to stop having adult programs. Even when people begged him to do something, his excuse was, “No one ever shows up for them.” He never would admit it was his fault for not advertising them. 

Again, we all would’ve loved to see him get fired because his laziness made work harder on the rest of us, from having to pick up his slack to patrons complaining to us because of choices he made. But the manager at that time before his transfer was, like I said, his BFF, and again, our union sucks. They pretty much are only about raising our dues so they can give themselves raises and not about protecting workers. Going to Human Resources wouldn’t get any results, either, so we just had to put up with it until he was transferred.

Hold Onto Those Books, And Your Job

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Very Day-Careless Parenting

, , , , | Right | July 15, 2021

We have just opened for the day and the first person to walk in is a man with his young daughter. He has a thick accent and English is not his first language, so when he comes up to the desk to ask a question, it’s difficult to understand what he’s asking.

I’m eventually able to tell that he’s asking where the children’s side is. I point him in the right direction and he and his daughter are on their way. A minute or so later, I see him leave but not with the little girl. My coworker notices it, too, and before I can say something, she gets up and calls out to the guy.

He’s on his way to work but came here first to drop off his daughter for the day! We tell him that he cannot leave her here because we are not a daycare. He just keeps on saying he has to get to work.

Eventually, we are able to get him to understand that we cannot watch his daughter and he goes back to get her and leaves. Now, this would not be the first time a parent left their very young child on the kid’s side thinking we would watch them, but they at least always stayed in the building. This one just took the cake.

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Tell Us Who She Is So We Can Start A GoFundMe

, , , , | Right | July 2, 2021

I work at a small-town library. A certain patron will come in, dart straight to the nonfiction section, and grab the same book each time to bring it up to the front desk.

Patron: “Is there any chance that this book will go on sale?”

Me: “Ma’am, we are a library. If you have a library card with us, you are welcome to check it out, but the book is not for sale.”

Patron: “I don’t have a library card with you guys. I no longer live in the area, but this is the only library that has this book, and I just love this book so much that I was just hoping that if it doesn’t get checked out a lot then maybe it will go to your book sale.”

We have a small book sale all year round where we sell books that have been donated or books that have been withdrawn from our system.

Me: “It is possible that if it hasn’t been checked out in years then we will withdraw it from our system and put it in our book sale, but I can’t guarantee that will happen. That decision is made by our librarians.”

Patron: “Okay. Thank you very much for your time.”

I take the book back and scan it to our system, letting it know that it has been seen recently. I notice that the book hasn’t been checked out in many years but it was seen about a year ago — most likely because I had the same conversation with the same lady a year ago. While putting the book on the cart so it can be reshelved, my coworker, who witnessed the whole thing, comes up to me.

Coworker: “If she keeps on pulling the book out, then it won’t be withdrawn anytime soon. It is telling our system that at least someone is showing an interest in the book whether they check it out or not.”

Me: “Yep. Oh, well, at least she was nice.”

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Tomorrow Is Yesterday

, , , , | Right | July 2, 2021

To add a little flair to the health crisis, our library’s air conditioning breaks in the hottest part of the summer. Our director gives us permission to close early each day once the heat inside gets too unbearable to work, so during the two weeks the repairmen need to find a part, we close between 1:00 and 3:00 pm every day. 

I am stationed at our front door handling our curbside service as patrons are not currently allowed in the building. A woman comes to the door and I fetch the books she wants.

Patron: “Oh, and I called earlier and they said you were closed yesterday, but here you are.”

Me: “That’s right. We closed yesterday at around one. Our air conditi—”

Patron: “No, you see, you were open all day yesterday. That girl on the phone tried to tell me you were closed, but here you are, open!”

Me: “Uh… we actually closed at one yesterday because our—”

Patron: “No, you were open yesterday. That girl said you weren’t, but you were because you’re open today.”

Me: “We’ll probably close today because it’s getting too hot.”

Patron: “But you were open yesterday! I know because you’re here today. Anyway! Thanks for the books!”

And she went off to her car, leaving me confused about why she was so insistent that we were open all day the day before.

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