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Customers Gone ‘Wild’

| DuPont, WA, USA | Books & Reading, Crazy Requests, Rude & Risque

(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.”

Me: “…EXCUSE ME?”

(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.”

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Marked For Better Things

| Philadelphia, PA, USA | Bad Behavior, Books & Reading, Popular

(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.”

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If It Scans, It Fits

| NC, USA | Extra Stupid, Technology

(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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Doesn’t Look Like Anything The Cat Dragged In

| NM, USA | Family & Kids, Popular

(I am sitting in the youth services section of the library, near the desk, reading a book and waiting for my daughter to come out of story time when I observe a boy about nine or ten approaching the desk.)

Employee: “Welcome to the library. Can I help you find something?”

Boy: “I was wondering if you could help me find my grandma?”

Employee: “Sure. Can you tell me what she looks like?”

Boy: “Well, she’s really old and REALLY wrinkly and has old person hair, and she smells like an old person, and I think she’s wearing a purple shirt. Kind of a crazy cat lady look?”

Employee: *blushing at the boy’s words* “Sorry, I haven’t seen anyone fitting that… description.”

Boy: “Okay, but if you see her, will you tell her me and my mom are at story time?”

Employee: “Sure will.”

(Two minutes later, a lady comes looking for her family. She’s probably not a day over fifty and very stylishly dressed with nice hair.)

Employee: “Welcome to the library. Can I help you find something?”

Lady: “Yes. I was looking for my daughter and grandchildren. The oldest boy is wearing a green shirt and brown ball cap. Have you seen them?”

Employee: “Yes. They went into the story time room.”

(The lady leaves, and the employee looks at me, knowing I saw the whole thing.)

Employee: “Really old crazy cat ladies are getting nicer looking every day!”

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No Room For Argument

| AR, USA | Crazy Requests, Popular

(I work at an academic library and one of the services we offer is for our customers to check out study rooms. I take a call from a woman around noon.)

Caller: “I want to know if I can reserve a study room?

Me: “It’s first come, first serve, and we aren’t allowed to reserve them.”

(I have to repeat myself several times because she insists on a study room and isn’t actually listening to my answer. After I tell her for the fourth time:)

Caller: “That’s fine. I’ll be in at about six.”

(She asked for my name again, and hung up. Around five o’clock I left for the day. But my coworker told me what happened when this woman came in for a study room.)

Customer: “Hi! I have a study room reserved for six.”

Coworker: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but we don’t reserve study rooms. It’s library policy.”

Customer: “Well, that’s not what [My Name] told me earlier! I was told I’d have a study room! Where am I supposed to study now?”

Coworker: “We do have a study area on the fourth floor if you’d like to use that. But it is an open space; I can’t guarantee how crowded it will be or the noise level. But since this is a library I can ask them to keep it down if it becomes too loud.”

Customer: “That is unacceptable! I was told I’d have a study room! I demand that that promise be kept!”

Coworker: “Ma’am, I was here when my coworker was on the phone with you. She told you several times that the study rooms are first come, first serve. But if you’d like I can give you a pager and let you know when the next available study room is open.”

Customer: “That is unacceptable! I demand you clear a study room right now! Or I’ll get you fired!”

Coworker: “First off, ma’am, I’m only volunteering over the summer so good luck getting me fired. Second, you had requested the room for six o’clock and you may only check the room out for an hour at a time because of how in demand they are. It is now seven forty. Even if we did do reserve rooms you would have missed your reservation and the check out time would have already elapsed. Third, you want me to recall a room, kicking someone out who also needs to study in the process, just so you can have your way? I’m not going to do that. Now, it’s fairly quiet on the fourth floor. You can study there either until you’re done studying or until a study room opens up. Or if you can’t be civil you can leave.”

(The customer got red faced, yelled for a few more minutes, cussing out me, my coworker, and library policy, then stormed out.)

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