The Contrarian Librarian: The DVD

, , , , , | Working | April 20, 2021

Back in the early 2000s, I return some DVDs I’ve borrowed from my university library’s media counter. A few days later, I try to borrow some books from the main counter, but I’m told that there’s a block on my account because I didn’t return some DVDs. I say I did return them, and they ask me to speak to someone at the media counter.

Me: “Hi. According to the system, I didn’t return [DVDs], but I think whoever was working the desk when I returned them forgot to scan them or something.”

Librarian: “And I’m supposed to just believe you?”

Me: *Shocked* “Or… You could check if the DVDs are in the drawers behind you?”

Librarian: “Oh! Right.”

They were there. She didn’t say another word or even apologize. She just looked very embarrassed while she made sure to scan each DVD.

The Contrarian Librarian Runs Out Of Time
The Contrarian Librarian: The Childhood Years
Softening Of The Contrarian Librarian
The Contrarian Librarian: Looking For Work
Re-emergence Of The Contrarian Librarian

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Say RIP To That Book

, , , | Right | April 9, 2021

I work in a library with a good selection of books for children. It is five minutes until we close and a woman comes in with her young girl.

Woman: “Hello. I’m looking for a copy of Little Red Riding Hood?”

Me: “We don’t have any on the shelf, but I think we have one out back that was just added.”

I go to fetch it and give it to the woman, who looks pleased with it.

Woman: “So what happens with fines?”

Me: “Well, as with any library, there are overdue fees if you bring the book back late, but you can have it for two weeks and renew it up to five times.”

Woman: “No! I mean when she rips the book!”

Me: *Taken aback* “Well, we ask our customers to please take care of the books. If the book is damaged it has to be withdrawn and the customer will need to pay the cost of the book or—”

Woman: *Interrupting* “Wait! I have to pay?! [Other Library] doesn’t do that! What does the book cost?”

Me: “£9.99.”

Woman: “Oh, I won’t bother! I’ll just buy the book myself!”

She stormed out right before I was about to tell her she can buy a replacement copy if she finds it cheaper somewhere as I was quoting the full retail price. But honestly, why not just teach your kid NOT to rip up books, or supervise her?

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Next Time Build An Assault Course

, , , , | Right | April 5, 2021

Our library has been closed for health reasons for quite a while now. We are, however, offering curbside services. A gentleman ducks UNDER the barriers preventing people from entering the library and approaches the front desk.

Patron: “Hi, I’d like to check out these books.”

Me: “Sorry, sir, we’re closed to the public! You have to go back outside. There are barriers, you know.”

Patron: “Well, they’re not very good. I was able to go right under them.”

Me: “Still. We are closed. You’ll have to go back outside.”

Patron: “But I made it in! Your barriers aren’t good at all!”

Not sure what he was expecting? Barbed wire? Did he think it was a challenge?

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Her Method Does Not Compute

, , , | Right | March 29, 2021

I work the reference desk at a public library. A lady walks up to the desk and shows me a tiny picture of a computer screen she took with her phone camera; it’s the title of a book she’s looked up on another website that recommends books to kids learning to read. I can barely make out the title, but I do look it up for her.

After a while, she comes back with another of these tiny “screenshots” and this repeats until I notice that she keeps going back and forth from one of our computers around the corner.

Me: “Excuse me, I was wondering why you take pictures of the results you find when you could just look them up right there on the same computer?”

Patron: “Oh, but it’s so much faster if you look them up for me.”

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There’s No Talking Her Out Of This

, , , | Right | March 26, 2021

It’s not uncommon for elderly patrons to come in or call the library to have someone to talk to. We understand this and try to give them attention, but it can be a problem if there’s a line or it’s a busy day. This woman calls about three times a week, either to find out about the items she just purchased or to ask us to find the phone numbers of people she used to know.

In this case, she is looking for neighbors who moved.

She goes through an extensive explanation of the current people moving in and wants everything I can find on the company named on the side of the van. I find their Yelp reviews and read a few to her. In the next breath, she asks:

Old Lady: “Now, I need the phone number of the people who used to live in that house. They live in [State] now and their name is [Last Name]. I think they must have a new number.”

I imagine that this family must have recently moved, given that another family is just moving in, and they probably don’t even have a phone set up yet. I don’t bother saying this to her because, in her mind, everything happens right away and everything is set up to suit her, even when it isn’t her phone or her house we’re talking about.

I look all this up for her, but I can’t find anything about this family in a town in [State]. She just KNOWS they will want to hear from her as she used to call them every day. I try every permutation of the name on every combination and form of online White Pages available to us at the time.

Me: “[Old Lady], I don’t know what to tell you, but there is no one by that name living in [State] or anywhere around [State]. There are some people listed by that name, but the article is an obituary.”

Old Lady: “I don’t understand; they moved there over twenty-five years ago, and I used to call them all the time. They must have changed their number recently, or maybe they got an unlisted number.”

That’s when it all clicks together. When I get off the phone, almost forty minutes after we began, I relate the story to my coworker, who shakes his head. 

Coworker: “Dying was probably the only way they could get her to stop calling.”

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