The Final Shoutdown

| Seattle, WA, USA | Learning | June 17, 2016

(I’m working the overnight shift at a large university library that is open 24/7. There are only four staff members, myself included, on duty at this time of night, and as it is finals week, the library is absolutely packed. It’s about 3:00 am and I am stuck at the service desk checking in/out textbooks that are on reserve. Not far from the desk is a large, sound-proof music studio which students can “check out” in order to record audio/visual projects. Included with the room is a case with a microphone, tripod, camera, and various other A/V equipment. A student shuffles up to the desk and gestures to the music studio.)

Student: “Hey, what’s that for?”

Me: “Oh, it’s for music students to go record their projects. They can use some of our equipment, too. Would you like to reserve it?”

Student: “It’s for music?”

Me: “Yes. Video, too.”

Student: “So, like, it’s sound proof?”

Me: “Yup.”

Student: “Okay, I wanna use that.”

(I scan his student ID to reserve the room and then reach for the equipment case to check those items out, too, when he stops me.)

Student: “Oh, no, I don’t need that stuff.”

Me: “You have your own equipment?”

Student: “I don’t need it.”

Me: “Okay… do you mind if I ask what you’re using the room for?”

(The student fidgets a little, digging his hands in his pockets, and then sighs.)

Student: “It’s finals week. I need a sound-proof room. Can I have it for fifteen minutes?”

Me: *beginning to understand* “Yeah… all right.”

(He politely takes the keys to the room and retreats into the room. Twenty minutes later, a student who has reserved the room for 3:20 am arrives and asks for the keys. Because the previous student has not returned, I go to check on him. I open the door and immediately find him standing stiffly in one corner shouting obscenities at the top of his lungs. As soon as he sees me he stops, shuffles over to give me the keys, and smiles sadly.)

Student: “Finals week… you know?”

Me: *sadly* “I know.”

Customers Gone ‘Wild’

| DuPont, WA, USA | Right | June 15, 2016

(I work as a library page in a very small library. We are promoting a book called ‘Wild’ as our “Book of the Year,” and copies of it are displayed throughout the library. The book contains some depictions of the author’s experiences with drug abuse and her sex life.)

Patron: “Excuse me, miss?”

Me: “Hi! Can I help you?”

Patron: “I checked out this book last week, and I can’t believe you people are carrying this.”

Me: “Oh, that’s one of our promot—”

Patron: “Have you read it?”

Me: “Yes, I have.”

Patron: “It’s very inappropriate! I What if some kid decided to check this out? I don’t think you guys should be encouraging such irresponsible behaviors!”

Me: “I’m sorry you didn’t like it, but—”

Patron: *angrily* “I didn’t say I didn’t like it! I just think you should remove the parts with all the sex and the drugs.”

Me: “Oh… Well, I’m sorry that some of the content offended you. But we can’t edit the book.”

Patron: “Why not?”

Me: “It’s already been printed, and we’re not involved in the publishing process. We just put it on the shelves, really.”

Patron: “That’s unacceptable. I need you to edit your books more carefully.”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, but we can’t edit the books once they’ve been published.”

Patron: “So you think this is appropriate?”

Me: *choosing my words carefully* “I don’t really think that kids should be reading it, no, and I understand why you take issue with it, but I think the message of the books outweighs the scenes with the sex and drugs. The point of the book is that the author overcame those mistakes.”

Patron: “I bet you live like she does, don’t you?”

Me: “Excuse me?”

Patron: *verbatim* “You’re probably pretty loose, too.”


(The library is very small and it’s difficult to have any conversations without another staff member overhearing; at this point, another page standing nearby comes around the stacks to intervene.)

Coworker: *to the patron* “Sir, can I help you? Is everything all right?”

Patron: “No. This book is completely inappropriate and your employee seems to think that kind of thing is okay.”

Coworker: “Well, she was correct that we can’t edit the book. We can’t have it removed from the shelves, either. I’m sorry.”

Patron: “This is totally unacceptable! This is a LIBRARY, not an adult bookstore! If you THINK for one second that this okay…!”

Me: *still reeling from the comment about my sex life* “We told you we can’t do anything about the content. What, exactly, do you want to have happen here?”

Patron: “I want you to do your d*** job!”

Me: “Which is…?”

Patron: “Stop promoting promiscuity and drug use!”

Me: “Sir, my job is to put books on the shelf, keep the library clean, and help answer patron questions. The LIBRARY’S job is to provide literature to the community. I guarantee, I’m doing my job, and the library is well within its rights promoting a book which encourages people to OVERCOME their mistakes.”

Patron: “That’s not good enough!”

Coworker: “Sir, you’re making the other patrons uncomfortable. If you’d like to submit a complaint to the people who choose which books we promote, I can give you the phone number and e-mail address for the county library headquarters. There isn’t anything we can do other than that.”

Patron: *sighing dramatically* “Fine, whatever!”

(The patron takes the contact info, angrily paces around the stacks for a little while, and then storms out.)

Me: *to my coworker* “Honestly, I didn’t even like that book.”

Marked For Better Things

| Philadelphia, PA, USA | Right | June 8, 2016

(I work at a small museum and do outreach programs for schools, libraries, community centers, etc. We have been warned that the AC is down in this location, so instead of my usual slacks, I wear knee-length shorts. Two small tattoos on my calf and ankle are visible. After the presentation, while I’m cleaning up the crafts table:)

Patron: “What are those things on your legs?”

Me: “They’re for my family, ma’am.”

Patron: “You’ll never get a job with marks like that on you.”

Me: “I do have a job; I’m working it right now.”

Patron: “You know what I mean; a real job.”

Me: “It IS a real job. And with all due respect, ma’am, you’re the one at a public library at two pm on a Wednesday.”

1 Thumbs

Not As Wise As An Owl

| USA | Working | June 3, 2016

(I am getting a book about owls in my local library for a project I am doing. I go to check it out.)

Library Clerk: “Why do you want this?”

Me: “I wanted to learn some more about owls for a project I have at [Local School].”

Library Clerk: “What else do you need to know? They fly and hunt and stuff. There is no need to make it complicated.”

Me: *face-palm*

If It Scans, It Fits

| NC, USA | Right | May 7, 2016

(I work at a public library and I am working by myself for a few hours.)

Patron: “I want to use a computer.”

Me: “Okay, just scan your library card at the PC reservation computer behind you and it will assign you to a computer.”

(Twenty minutes later I am super busy helping other patrons. I notice she is standing there looking confused.)

Patron: “I scanned my card. Now what?”

Me: “Okay,  it should have assigned you to a computer. Did you see what number you were assigned?”

(The patron shakes her head, because of course she didn’t.)

Me: “Let me check to see which one you’re on.”

(I looked on the computer and saw no reservation. The patron proceeded to show me that she scanned her card on the photo scanner and uploaded it to the computer used for the photo scanning machine, not the PC reservation computer with the barcode scanner. This woman figured out a freaking photo scanner but couldn’t understand how to use the barcode scanner to reserve a computer.)

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