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Annoying things that patrons do, say, don't say, etc.

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May 15, 2009, 5:08pm Top

While most of us love what we do, the fact is that we work with the public. Most of our patrons are nice enough, some are even great, but then there are those that drive us nuts. The yellers, the crazies, the liars, the smellies, the people who just try our patience to the breaking point. We all have a story and I think that it would be a good idea to vent your frustrations amongst people who understand all to well.

May 15, 2009, 5:14pm Top

I'll start. I just had someone come up to try and use a computer
"Do you have your library card" I ask
"Yes." They hand me that card
"Is this your card" I ask (you'll see why I ask here in a minute)
"Yes" they respond
After looking at there record I say,
"Well, this person was born in 1956.."
the teenager who just handed me the card says
"Well, it's my aunt's card."
"You have to use your own card"
"I don't have a card.."
This use to make me mad, but it happens everyday, it's kind of like a dance at this point and I know all the steps....

May 15, 2009, 5:31pm Top

Yesterday, a girl came up and asked me where the history books were. I could have just pointed her towards the 900s, but I asked her questions until she finally told me she needed a biography of Bill Clinton.

Say so! It's not a hard request!

May 17, 2009, 4:36pm Top

I understand completely. I work at a local government archives and most people don't understand what we have. Here is a typical "dance" we have on the telephone:

"I need public records."
"What specifically?"
"All of them."
"We have lots of types of records. Could you tell us what you are looking for?"
"Well, what do you have?"
"That depends. What are you looking for?"
"I don't know! What do you have?!?"

At this point I usually take a deep breath and start listing them all--beginning with criminal records. I only get a few into the list before they finally stop me. "I just need a marriage record." That's all I needed to know!

May 17, 2009, 4:37pm Top

I've worked in public and academic libraries and I have gotten these (or similar) requests in both libraries.

"Do you have this book? Um, I think it has a blue or a purple cover, and I think there is a butterfly on the cover?"

Argh!! I feel so helpless when patrons request books they only know what the cover looks like. Unfortunately, there is no way for me to search the catalog by book cover alone, not to mention that book covers can vary from different editions/times of publication. We're librarians, not mindreaders!

May 18, 2009, 12:21pm Top

I prefer the parents (usually mothers) who is teaching their say (loudly) to their children from across the library "SHHHHH, this is the LIBRARY, you're supposed to be quiet", which of course by doing this they are disrupting nearly everyone and invariable their children respond back (across the whole floor) "WHAT?"

Drives me CRAZY!

May 18, 2009, 4:10pm Top

At the moment, I have a woman who is calling every day to check if her hold is in. But, she never mentions she put it on hold! She just asks if the title is in, so we look it up, tell her we don't own it, would she like to place a hold ... at which point she says she already did, like we should just know that! You'd think after having this conversation daily for a week, she'd rephrase as" I want to see if my hold came in" but nooooooo. She wants to know if the *title* is in.

May 18, 2009, 5:45pm Top

I have a woman who thinks I am her doctor (which is both annoying and somewhat gross). She will go into explicit detail about her various ailments (sometimes even showing off her bumps and rashes and scars) and then ask me to diagnose her. I told her she should probably call her doctor, and her response was that she didn't have time; couldn't I just look it up on the computer.

May 19, 2009, 12:21am Top

Hmmm. Maybe under it all, you could see these as a complement . . . these people all seem to think that librarians are omniscient. That's kinda nice, isn't it? Whereas so many people that I know think librarians just check out books: "you need a masters degree to do that?"

May 19, 2009, 8:39am Top

Oh I love those people! Whenever I tell people I'm studying for my degree in library and information science, they're always like "what? you need a degree for that?" as if it were the easiest thing in the world. I'd like to see them in a metadata class.

Edited: May 19, 2009, 9:58am Top

Not only have I heard the "you have to go to school for that?" question, but I have had more than one person ask really concerned-like:
"So, do they pay you for this? You're in here every day, and I was just wondering if this is a volunteer thing or if you get paid."
"Yes, I am a paid employee."
"That's good. I thought you were volunteering your time to be here every day."

I like my job, but I'm not sure I would volunteer at the library over 40 hours a week, without some form of income!

May 19, 2009, 11:00am Top

I have a kindergarten teacher here who calls me the "libarian" and brings her students to the "libary". Really? You're a grown woman teaching children and you can't say "libRary"???

May 19, 2009, 12:54pm Top


I've heard librarians say it.

May 19, 2009, 5:21pm Top

@ Everyone- I giggled so hard at all of these, thanks for brightening my day. :)

May 19, 2009, 5:53pm Top

I have had this happen in a similar situation. A man came in and had seen a book on T.V. the week before and wanted to know if I had that book. He could not tell me the title, author, or what the book even looked like. He just kept saying " You know the one, that book that was on the news, they were talking about it they other night...You know the one!!!" I wanted to say, "Yes, sir I know the book. Of course I have access to every single venue that lists or names every book known to the world!!!!" Ahhhh. On another note, I also cater to a TON!!! of the so called smellies that the poster was referring to in the original post....including an entire family who does not have running water in their own house, so they come to the library to use the free public toilet.....It then smells for about an entire day in my library!!! Whatever it is these people eat...I want none of it!

May 19, 2009, 7:07pm Top

>15 lcloud_21:

re: books from TV

Better than nothing: NYPL actually has a weekly email newsletter of "books on the air". You can subscribe here:

Preview here:

Doesn't get everything (and runs a few days behind) but it can be useful.

May 20, 2009, 9:19am Top

Baker & Taylor has one that runs about a month ahead. You might want to talk to your vendor or acqu department.

May 23, 2009, 9:11am Top

Working in a public library has convinced me that people should have to have a license to be parents. I love the idea that the library is a safe place, but in reality, it is only slightly safer than your average police station. I get so tired of people dumping their YOUNG children in the youth dept and going off to the videos. And then looking at me as if I am the idiot when I hand them the policy on just that topic.

But I do (as we all probably do) love the challenge of digging up the right book. I have even been guilty of the "It was an orange book" type of request myself.

May 23, 2009, 2:51pm Top

>18 rockinrhombus:

I recently observed, at one remove, all of the checks the UK uses on prospective adopting parents - even back two generations. That any male and any female can procreate and say it's no-one else's business but theirs actually beggars belief in this context! What price Brave New World?

May 23, 2009, 3:21pm Top

Yes, just because you can doesn't mean you should. That applies to so much of life :-)

May 23, 2009, 9:43pm Top

I work in a large open medical library which has 8 computers that public are to use for medical research but do not. It always makes my morning when at 8 am I have to kick people out for looking at pornagraphic websites. Or when medstudents come in and say that they need the red book that their prof said would be in the library but have no idea what the title of the book is.

May 23, 2009, 10:04pm Top

"What do you mean I have to have my library card?"

May 23, 2009, 10:45pm Top

I work in a public library. Today a patron asked me:

"Do you have more then one copy of this book?" hands me the book
"No Sir" after looking at our catalogue
"That's great" pause
"because I thought I returned my university book by the same title here by mistake"

Then I needed to explain that we are not part of the same library service, we do send books not belonging to us back thier owners (if known) rather than keeping them.

Strange that.

May 28, 2009, 1:34pm Top

For the life of me, I will never understand how my highly educated patrons at my special library are incapable of figuring out how to use the wifi on the laptops we check out. Every single one of them: "The laptop is broken!"
Me: "No, it's not."
Them: "It won't connect to the internet!"
Me: "Yes, it will."
Them: "Bah." *hand it to me*
Me, type type: "There you go."
Them: "Erm, well, it didn't work for me!"
Me: "Uh-huh."

Jun 2, 2009, 12:55pm Top

I work for a library where we mail disabled patrons books in accessible formats. Our primary contact with patrons is via phone. I love it when they just launch into their problem, request, etc.. without telling us their name. Or when their name is spelled "Browne" and they don't tell us it has a different spelling then get upset when we can't find them in the computer.

Jun 2, 2009, 1:22pm Top

i spell it "lieberry" and i tell people they are poisonous

Jun 2, 2009, 6:33pm Top

Patrons confuse our reference desk for the circulation desk. (I work at the central branch) And bypass the general information desk to ask something that has nothing to do with our reading room.
In our smaller neighborhood branches one desk does everything, from reference to circulation.

Jun 3, 2009, 6:50am Top

My top 10 (from a very diverse library career):

1. Para-legals who explain to you how to read the legal citations (possibly they've just worked it out themselves and need to show off!)
2. University students who think "Private Study Space/Room" is just a euphemism for "cheap hotel room located in the library". (The highlight of my night shift used to be sorting out this misunderstanding!)
3. University students who accuse you of 'hiding' the short reserve item they want so they can't have it! (Yep, that's why I came to work today - just to target YOU!)
4. Public library patrons who are as regular as clockwork - 2 minutes before closing they're settling in to the WC for and extended no2 session. (Enough with the bran already!) (Likewise the people who think you needs 15 metres TP to be sure you've done a good job - is that why it won't flush? I'm no plumber but...)
5. Anyone who brings pizza/roast chicken/hot chips/coffee into the reference library on a cold winters night - if I have to wait another 2 hours for my dinner don't expect me to understand why you have to have yours right now, right there in front of me! (And no, I don't believe that I can trust you to put it in your bag and not touch it - if I could we wouldn't be having this conversation!)
6. People who unplug library equipment so they can plug in their laptops etc (Am I the only one constantly amazed by the number of people who visit the library with their mobile phone AND power charger - "What do you mean the power's not free? My rates pay your salary you know!")
7. The nameless patrons who every morning go to the newsagent and spend $$$ on lottery tickets then visit the library to fight over the $1 paper - which came from the same store where they bought their lottery tickets! ("But the paper is free at the library")
8. iPods and MP3 players played at a volume sufficient to trigger a sonic boom ("I know you're using headphones but if I can hear it from 15 metres away IT'S TOO LOUD!")
9. Patrons who tell you EVERY time they visit why the neighbouring public library is better/cheaper/nicer than yours. (Then please - go there, there's no rule that says you have to visit us daily and we promise not to be sad when you don't show up!)
10. Patrons who won't believe that when authors die they generally stop writing new books (OK I know there appear to be some exceptions - but generally IT'S TRUE - and no there is no 'just in case' waiting list)

Not on my list - the elderly lady who rings the reference desk every fortnight to ask for help with just one question from this week's crossword and thanks you when you get it right! Aaahhh....success at last!

Jun 3, 2009, 2:11pm Top

>24 gaialover:

As for your #4 - we had one particular patron like that. We decided to start locking the bathroom 15 minutes before close. You should have heard the abuse heaped on my head when I wouldn't unlock it! And there was a publicly available bathroom less than 200 ft from the library's front door.

And what drives me nuts about people plugging in their item - they don't seem concerned about cords stretched across well-used traffic areas! It's a safety hazard, and yet they're offended when I tell them they have to remove the cord.

Jun 5, 2009, 10:46am Top

Re#5 -Crazy as it sounds I have heard of a computer catalogue that was invented where you could look by colour of the book! though I doubt this system would ever be a priority for a library to get..

Jun 5, 2009, 10:54am Top

what is worse that this is the parents who sit , chatting in the children's section while their kids run around the "WHOLE library and make a huge mess of the children's books(literally all over the floor) and these parents just ignore this and leave the mess when they leave the library!

Do they live in a pig sty at home ? or do they just not care cos it not their home?

I'm not complaining about the mess in general. you have to expect this in the children's library, but it the attitude of these parents that get my goat.

there was another parent and child in today who had many books out, and when they left there was no mess-so there are some good ones out there!
except the messies are the regulars!

Jun 5, 2009, 10:57am Top

re:# 22

where I work-they changed the rules to make joining etc more user friendly(eg: up the joining stats) and you don't need id to join or proof of address-therefore though you "should have your card to take out books or use the computers" technically you don't really have to bring it..

Jun 5, 2009, 3:37pm Top

> 31 They may have been trained to leave books--we ask that they not be shelved. But leaving them all over the floor is not acceptable behavior either. I've seen it all, but I would rather reshelve than not be able to locate a book. Part of the mess factor may be the hugely annoying idea that since the library is funded by taxes, we are their slaves. I really get indignant (nice word for it) when I hear, "I pay your salary! This is my library." And yes, it was just those words over another issue.

I pay my salary too. So this can be another gripe: taxpayers who feel entitled to abuse staff and or the facilities because they pay for it.

Jun 5, 2009, 3:49pm Top

I think a great come back for these "I pay your salary" would be something like

"yes, if you are an average wage earner, you pay for about 5 minutes of my time and an hours use of the library per year, you have 2 1/2 minutes left, what can I help you with?"

Anyone have some real numbers on this? It would be fun to know.

Jun 6, 2009, 11:05am Top


Your library's per capita income shouldn't be hard to find, as most people use it as The Benchmark. Divide by hourly wage and voila.

Jun 6, 2009, 11:25am Top

34, my boss once calculated that each patron paid 74 cents of her paycheck. (Not sure if that's per paycheck, per month, something else...) She has been known to offer patrons this 74 cents back in return for leaving the library when they start in on "I pay your salary."

Jun 6, 2009, 1:48pm Top

There is this: http://www.cccnj.net/library/librarycalculator.cfm

It isn't exactly what we are talking about here, but it puts a very real dollar value on the services.

Good one, readafew.

We had a director long ago do the very same thing. I think in our location and at the time it was 15 cents. It is tempting at times.

Jun 6, 2009, 2:35pm Top

$15 for a book and $10 for an audiobook? Seems strange, when audiobooks cost four or five times as much as a book and you're getting less circs before the item wears out.

Jun 6, 2009, 4:31pm Top

>36 FFortuna:

FFortuna, I think I love your boss. Really?

Jun 6, 2009, 4:53pm Top

39, technically she's my ex-boss, she has her own business now. But yeah, she was awesome like that. :) A little overbearing at times, but a lifesaver if you're trying to deal with a problem patron! She took no crap from anyone.

Jun 10, 2009, 1:39am Top

patrons who arrive at the desk while you are helping some one else, dump their books down, and stare at you while you work. When you eventually get over to help them, only then do they begin to search in the depths of their bag/wallet for their library card.

Jun 10, 2009, 11:09am Top

LOL @ >41 lit_bitten:. My problem when I visit a library as a patron is that I am SOO bad at leaving my library card wherever I go in the library. So for me, I have to wait until I absolutely need my card, so I don't leave it somewhere and it gets lost. I'm a chronic loser of keys, cell phone, debit card, etc. It drives me nuts!

Jun 10, 2009, 11:56am Top

I had a customer the other day who was asking for "Mexican Cookbooks". I took her down to the 641s and we looked at a few, but it turned out she actually wanted a picture of a woman dressed in traditional Mexican clothing. Why didn't she just say that?

Jun 10, 2009, 11:59am Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jun 10, 2009, 12:51pm Top

My favorite telephone call from a patron was this:

"Good morning, College of Charleston Library, how may I help you?"
"Yes, what county is the Charleston County Public Library in?"
(insert long silence)
"I believe it is in Charleston county..."
(even longer silence)
"Oh, I see. Thanks."

Jun 10, 2009, 2:50pm Top

Just today..we are a 38,00sq.ft building.."have you seen my purse"? OMG.

Jun 10, 2009, 4:10pm Top

One of my co-workers actually found the title of a book by googling the description of the cover!! And it wasn't something obvious -- he googled "book cover", whatever colors were being described, some type of flower and voila! Of course I don't remember what it was now....

Jun 10, 2009, 8:25pm Top

#47 - See? Librarians actually are almost omniscient.

Jun 11, 2009, 1:43pm Top

I work in reference. My biggest gripe (today) is patrons who treat us like we haven't got a brain in our heads.

Jun 11, 2009, 1:49pm Top

I'm relatively young...I'll just say I'm hovering around 30, give or take a year or two, ha. But I look a lot younger. I often get patrons thinking I'm a teenager, in fact. And that's annoying enough, of course...but what really gets me is when they ask, patronizingly, if I've ever even heard of a card catalog, let alone seen one. Um, yes. I've actually even USED them. I'm not 12, you know! ((I had this happen just this morning, in fact, so the annoyance is fresh.))

Jun 11, 2009, 3:24pm Top

I've had this exchange at least once every year since I started as a university reference librarian in 1991:

PATRON: Hi, I was told you can help me find an item being held on reserve?

ME: Do you know the title of the item?


ME: Do you know your instructor's name?


ME: Do you know the name of the class this is for (the class you are in)?


I'll still brag that we probably find what they're looking for about half the time even AFTER this exchange!

Jun 14, 2009, 3:49pm Top

I had this conversation with a patron on Friday:

Him: I need to check out these books.
Me: I can show you how to use the self check out system. Do you have your library card?
Him: No.
Me: Do you have any ID?
Him: No. There are no back pockets on my pants.

All I could think was that if a police officer pulled him over is that what he'd say? "Sorry I'm driving without my license officer, but there are no back pockets on my pants." I'm sure that would go over great.

Jun 14, 2009, 5:19pm Top

>52 bitter_suite: I'm not a bit suprised! (I'm from a small college town.)

Jun 20, 2009, 1:17am Top

I know just what you mean. I work in a community college library and it's the same thing when students come in looking for a textbook.
"I need a book."
"What's the name of the book?"
"I don't know."
"Who's the author?"
"I don't know."
"What class is this for?"
"I don't know."
"What's your instructor's name?"
"I don't know."

I know we're doing a public service, but depending on how many times during the day I get this, I feel like saying, "Is there ANYTHING you do know?!?"

Jun 20, 2009, 1:22am Top

I know - sometimes you wonder how much of what you say is counterproductive. We have problems with students bringing in and eating food in the library. If we see them eating, we tell them to take it outside, but usually if anybody says anything they just hide it somewhere in the library and leave it for bugs.

Jun 20, 2009, 2:52am Top

Thank you for taking time to write your list. It is funny, so true!!

Jun 20, 2009, 4:05am Top

When working in a University library, what used to get me down was the sheer pigheaded selfishness of some of the students - noise, hiding books, leaving stuff lying about. And to any librarian who challenged their behaviour - just rudeness. on the other hand, some of them were lovely!

Jun 20, 2009, 10:50am Top

>55 autarkia79:

We used to have students (especially during finals) who would order pizza and take out and have them deliver it to the library!

Once we had a very honest guy come up to the circ desk with a bag of chips asking if he was allowed to bring them up to one of the study rooms. When we told him no, he proceeded to unpack the contents of his backpack to see if any of his other snacks were allowed.

Jun 22, 2009, 10:17pm Top

I just started working on a reference desk for the first time this summer, and one thing that drives me absolutely crazy is when someone calls the desk and then hangs up as soon as I say hello. This has happened as much as five times over two days while I've been on the desk! Who the heck calls somewhere and then just hangs up?!

Jun 24, 2009, 4:44pm Top

@51, 54

We had a student who came up and asked for help finding his classroom -- the last week of class! Hello! Don't you think you might have been dropped from the class by now?

Jun 25, 2009, 4:34pm Top

re: food in libraries

University library i work in had a similar "No Food, No Drinks" policy. Til Admin got the idea to have a Starbucks open inside the building.

A Starbucks you have to *enter* the building to get to.


The above policy went out the window soon after.

And since all the departments in the building routinely order pizza, subs, etc and have them delivered through the front door rather than pick them up and bring them in through the rear staff door, we can't in good conscience tell the students they can't do the same, can we?


Jun 26, 2009, 12:30pm Top

At my grad school, food delivery for students to the library was prohibited during finals.

Jun 27, 2009, 1:55pm Top

Yeah I completely understand. i had a patron come in today with her toddler and a teenager. She was standing at our self check machine and the toddler started screaming at the top of his lungs. The mother said nothing to the child just ignored him. She didn't have the teenager take him out or nothing. She just ignored him and let him scream. How rude is that. It completely disrups all the other people in the library. Some people don't care about other people!

Jun 27, 2009, 3:31pm Top

This one JUST happened: A middle-aged married couple started yelling to each other literally from one end of the room to the other about whether or not to sign up for e-mail notifications. Seriously rude.

Jun 27, 2009, 3:35pm Top

I once had a kid climbing around playing hide & seek on the bottom (empty) shelves--mom no where around of course--he managed to hit the shelf just right so that the above shelf of books tumbled down right on him. He wasn't hurt, but I didn't rush over to help him, just informed the mom what had happened. Hopefully he and mom both learned their lesson.

A co worker at the same library found a kid climbing up the shelves, and was actually reprimanded by the mother, when she asked him to get down.

Jun 27, 2009, 7:36pm Top

>65 theexiledlibrarian:

Yeah if she got reprimanded, I hope the mother got thrown out. . . Wow.

Jun 28, 2009, 6:33pm Top

>65 theexiledlibrarian:

I once had a mother playing hide and seek in the stack with her kids. We couldn't believe that not only was the parent not stopping her kids, but that she joined in!

Jun 29, 2009, 12:52pm Top

>67 bitter_suite: Hey, at least hide and seek is a quiet game by nature.....

As far as the food in academic libraries goes, the academic library I used to work in had an official "no food" rule, but the actual rule told to the staffers was, if they're being discrete and neat about it, ignore it, but absolutely no food deliveries to the library. We were also told we could intercept and confiscate any food deliveries.

Man, was I excited at finals time. As a student myself, I generally got at least some free pizza to put in my poor starving tummy.

Jun 29, 2009, 3:19pm Top

>68 gaialover: Man, was I excited at finals time. As a student myself, I generally got at least some free pizza to put in my poor starving tummy.


Jun 30, 2009, 6:17pm Top

We have a woman who comes in every day with her crying child. She never shushes it, comforts it, anything. They sit there for the entire two hour computer time limit, and the child wails. We can't decide who's the Antichrist, the baby for screaming, or her for bringing the child in the first place.

Another one I hate is when computer patrons come in, hand you their card, and say in a disinterested tone, "computer." I want to say, what? Do we have computers? Are you interested in computers? Would you like to go look at them? Usually, I *do* say something to the effect of, "yes, would you like to use one?" I'm tired of the attitude.

Another favorite is "why don't you have books on . . ." something like complex DNA analysis or pathophysiology. We're a tiny library in a small county! We get Danielle Steel, not the dissertation about the microscopically-examined habits of Sub-Saharan subsistence hunters in selected African countries!

A final one: people who come and get a new card and check out an SAT, GED, AVSAB, etc book. You KNOW you will never see that book again. We've had to quit buying that type of book because they're one-circ items.

We have an entire family that smells like onions.

Jun 30, 2009, 7:16pm Top

We were having problems with a pair of teen parents who would lounge out all day in the Teen section while their clearly bored toddler tried to amuse herself by running around, grabbing things and essentially being a nusiance. They never played with her or paid attention to her except to tell her to shut up & stop it.

They also would sometimes take her to the children's area where she would play with the baby toys while dad passed out in the play area. A couple of times they changed her in there and left the dirty diaper on the ground. What?!

On top of this, they got caught trying to steal CDs and DVDs. They were basically the worst patrons ever, and I feel so sorry for that little girl.

Jun 30, 2009, 7:34pm Top

>70 cherokeelib: - "Another one I hate is when computer patrons come in, hand you their card, and say in a disinterested tone, "computer." I want to say, what? Do we have computers? Are you interested in computers? Would you like to go look at them? Usually, I *do* say something to the effect of, "yes, would you like to use one?" I'm tired of the attitude."

I get the same thing from high school students. Actually, I'm lucky if they even say "computers" -- half the time they just shove their card at me. When I ask "Can I help you?" they act like I'm an idiot because I didn't read their minds. I am SOO tempted to reply to the "computer" request with "No, that's not a computer, it's an ID card." But I don't think any of them would get it.

Jun 30, 2009, 8:44pm Top

"We have a woman who comes in every day with her crying child. She never shushes it, comforts it, anything."

Hey, she comes to our library too!

Jul 1, 2009, 12:11pm Top

>73 Dragonfly:

She probably hits libraries all day long, stays until the time limit for use has expired, and then takes herself and Screaming Demon Baby to the next one on her list. Somehow, we're always the closing time stop of the day, so our tempers are good and frayed by the time she shows up.

Edited: Jul 1, 2009, 6:07pm Top

> 70, 72
Another one I hate is when computer patrons come in, hand you their card, and say in a disinterested tone, "computer."

I like to respond in a bright, cheerful tone, "Oh, you need a book about computers? Well, they're right over ..." by which time, they're looking at me like I'm an idiot, and saying, "no, no, I want to get an appointment!"

Well, if you don't specify, I'm going to assume you want a book ....

Jul 1, 2009, 9:48pm Top

I made the mistake of reading the last couple of postings while working at one of our public desks --- I was laughing so hard that my co-worker came over to see what I was reading... and then we were both laughing.

One of my favorites is the particular patron who always comes in, never bothering to read any signs we have posted (like that we're closed for a holiday, or that Summer Read has started, etc) and then says "why didn't I know about ______ (whatever it is)?" I had this happen today and when she left, said to my co-worker "yes, we're just a conspiracy of evil librarians, out to prevent her from gaining any knowledge about anything whatsoever."

Jul 1, 2009, 9:58pm Top

This was more funny than annoying, but it has seriously caused me to reconsider whether or not there is such a thing as a stupid question.

Last Friday we had a pretty bad electrical storm, and I suppose some places were left without power. Some lady called me and asked if our power was out. I told her no. She then asked, "Well, do your phones work?"

I don't know how she thought she was talking to me if our phones weren't working...

Edited: Jul 2, 2009, 6:12am Top

> 76

For a fun read, then, I recommend Brandon Sanderson's Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians!

Jul 3, 2009, 3:47pm Top

Do any of your patrons ever think we read all the books before lending them out? I have had a few thinking so. Hey, imagine being allowed to read books on the job??

And what about people bringing books back that are still wet, claiming the water damage was done before they took the book out (three weeks before...)

Jul 3, 2009, 4:15pm Top

And the wet happens to be cat (or any sort, really) urine?

Edited: Jul 3, 2009, 7:10pm Top

Sorry for the dup.

Jul 3, 2009, 5:38pm Top

Jul 3, 2009, 6:23pm Top

I've had to deal with returned board books with baby vomit on them. Those went straight in the bin. *shudder*

I think I would've minded less if it wasn't still wet.

Jul 4, 2009, 11:20am Top

>80 rockinrhombus:,83 How do people return books like that expecting NOT to be charged for that? If I were in their situation I would cut my losses and just fib that I lost the book, to pay for the book to be replaced. . . .That's just . . .Ew!

Jul 4, 2009, 12:30pm Top

I have no idea how they can return them in that condition. i don't get how they let them get in that condition in the first place, though.

I can't imagine what their houses are like. Super EW.

Jul 7, 2009, 5:51am Top

Maybe their babies are literary-critics-in-the-making?

Jul 7, 2009, 7:32pm Top

OK, so a couple comes up to the circ desk at my library. They lob a stack of Do-Your-Own-Divorce, Nolo form, etc. books onto the counter & she starts digging in her purse. She hands me a card with a guy's name on it & I say is this your card? OOOOH, shrieks the man with her, you aren't going to check those out on HIS card are you? No, says I, I don't think she is.......


Jul 7, 2009, 7:58pm Top

I had a customer come to the reference desk over the weekend. I asked him " May I help you?" He answered "Probably not." I paused waiting and then he asked "Who is in charge of stupid questions?" I politely answered "You need to ask all of your questions here sir." I found the items he was looking for but, I still can't figure out if he was being a jerk or if he just thought he was funny. Why would you even come to the desk, if you were going to act like that? I have to tell you that every person after him just totally annoyed me for no reason. I told my co-worker at the desk, next time I'd seen that stupid question to her!

Edited: Jul 8, 2009, 10:57am Top

Our circ desk is in the middle of the library so we can see the whole top floor from it. It is high on all the sides except for one where the computer is and where people line up to checkout. We have all sorts of stuff on the high part (fliers and reminders and such) but it never fails that someone pushes their stuff onto our displays and knocks them to the floor because that's where they decided to check out from. They also get angry when they stand by the returns section of the desk (clearly marked) and we wait on all the patrons in line first. Why can't they just check out where they are supposed to.

Also a patron just this moment complained about us having a 15 minute computer instead of all hour computers. Upon explaining that it's so people can use it quick when they just want to print something he asked why they couldn't just wait. I told him no one wants to wait an hour if they want to use it for 2 minutes. *sighs*

Jul 8, 2009, 3:50pm Top

#10 Amen to that! LOL

Jul 8, 2009, 7:02pm Top

Does anyone else get the patron who reeks of pot? And yes, that's what it is..... it's coming out of his pores and is almost a visible cloud around him.... as he leans over the desk to ask me questions and debate why another library sent us the wrong interlibrary loan item (of course, it must be our fault...).

ok - done venting. Going to get some fresh air.

Jul 8, 2009, 8:47pm Top

Never had one that reeked of pot. Manure, though... we have two brothers who come in periodically, obviously straight from the barn. The smell hits us the moment they open the doors. My ILL/Ref tech keeps antiseptic wipes and disinfects everything they touched as soon as they leave.

Jul 9, 2009, 5:18pm Top

I've had a patron who reeked of wood stove.

Jul 10, 2009, 5:20am Top

>93 goydaeh:

Did you get your books back? LoL.

Jul 13, 2009, 10:55am Top


Computer user.

Although he did tend to buy the bulkiest items from the book sale...

Jul 13, 2009, 6:11pm Top

Just today, I had an older patron ask for a novel. Seriously, how do you just come in and ask for a novel. I asked her if she had a specific title in mind. "Oh, no, I never read. It's for a class. I just need to read any novel."

I was tempted to give her Atlas Shrugged and be done with her.

Of course, I went through the whole song and dance of trying to find out as much as I could and finally sent her along with something she wasn't completely apathetic about. But really-I need a novel. Is it so hard to narrow things down a bit?

Oh and:
>70 cherokeelib: "something like complex DNA analysis or pathophysiology. We're a tiny library in a small county! We get Danielle Steel, not the dissertation about the microscopically-examined habits of Sub-Saharan subsistence hunters in selected African countries!"

I would kill for a reference question that specific. Instead, I get adults who are cranky that we don't have all the Twilight books. We're an academic library for pete's sake.

Jul 13, 2009, 6:22pm Top

Mea culpa. I recently had a total brain freeze at the main branch of the Baltimore County (Md.) library. My wife asked me to get her book club pick from the library but as soon as I got there, my mind went blank. I tried jogging my memory with the best seller list -- nope.

I told a librarian what little I could recall: It was a novel by a popular female author. (That should narrow it down, eh?) She gave me a pleasant smile (God bless librarians for their patience) and escorted me to the new fiction shelves. She rattled off about a dozen popular female authors -- nothing. I told her, "My mind keeps coming back to Maeve Binchy, but I know it's not her." Another pleasant, patient smile. After a few minutes, I surrendered, apologized and thanked her.

That evening, I humbled myself and asked my wife: "What were the names of that author and book again?" Yet another patient, pleasant smile. (I was pretty tired of those smiles by now.) The answer: Anita Shreve's Testimony.

I was pretty close with Maeve Binchy, wasn't I?

Jul 13, 2009, 9:57pm Top

I would like to know WHY patrons seem to use our DVDs and CDs as plates for food or as saucers for their coffee, and the kids use them to draw on and scratch to an unbelivable mess. It amazes me how little some care. Does anyone else have trouble with certain magazines. Our 4 Taste of Home magazines are missing most of the pages because people can't seem to spend $.10 to make copies. It infuriates me!!!!
Sorry, had to vent!

Jul 14, 2009, 9:35am Top


We keep People and Consumer Reports behind the desk because otherwise they go for a walk.

Edited: Jul 14, 2009, 11:56am Top

> 98/99 Our DVDs are behind the front desk, they are otherwise empty cases.

Jul 14, 2009, 12:13pm Top

I got a phone today from a patron asking for more information about an old book he had bought (I'm the curator of pre-1830's imprints). It took me five minutes before he even named the title - "Oh, it's about Balzac and it's very old" was all I got. I did get: "can you tell me what it's worth, what should I do with it?" (No I can't tell you what it's worth, I'm not an antiquarian) and "Is it special?" (I can't tell if I don't know the title). Finally he found a little note that said copyright 1923. "Is that special?" The special thing is that you were stupid enough to pay over 150$ for that - was what I wanted to say.

Fortunately just then another patron came by with a whole suitcase of real old books (which doesn't happen every day unfortunately).

Jul 14, 2009, 3:46pm Top

for #100
How many DVDs do you keep behind the desk. There is no way we could do that. We have security cases and they still take them.

Jul 14, 2009, 6:23pm Top

>102 kshrum: All of them, we have quite a few titles. Our Checkout area and main desk area connect with a huge back area. That's the only way we're able to do it I suppose.

Jul 15, 2009, 11:32am Top

OK, I've got a few things on my annoying list today. First people who want to ILL books by a particular author that they have not read yet, but don't tell me which ones they've read. They just stand there and get exasperated saying "No, I've already read that one." My psychic powers do not extend to your personal reading history. I'm also suppose to be their personal slave and order the next book in the series when they are done. So that means that 1. I am suppose know who you are and what you are reading 2. have a list handy of the books in the series so I know what book you need next 3. remember to order the next book once you return it, because I'm suppose to be keeping track of your returns (it's not like you can send me an email, pick up the phone or, heaven forbid, drop by the ref desk and ask for a book) . And of course there are multiple people who I am suppose to do this for, cause it's not like I do anything else other than serve you and you alone.

> 70 I totally understand you. As keeper of the computers (I am the gatekeeper, fear me!) I spend two thirds of my day with people in front of my desk, staring at me, apparently willing me to understand that they need a computer. Nevermind that the computers are set up to let people log themselves on with their library cards and the waitlist for the computers is on the waitlist computer about two feet from my right, thus removing me from the whole computer assignment system except when you are a visitor or new card holder. But still they come and stare at me, day after day, the same people even though the system has been automated for more than a year. I think I'm just going to stare back at them today and force them to speak. Lord knows they can speak, if I wait long enough I'm sure their cell phone will ring and then they can have a nice long, loud conversation that we all can enjoy throughout the whole library...

Jul 15, 2009, 11:45am Top

to 104 I so hear what you are saying. It's amazing how the patrons mouths don't work when they come up to you with card in hand. One day I had had enough and said "does this mean you need a computer?" Well, yes they say. OY!!!! and yes didin't they teach you that you have to be psychic and know that person is going to come and and you are going to know exactly what book they will want next and the color of the book. It's usually red.

Jul 15, 2009, 12:58pm Top

103: you must have a big library. Ours is pretty small compared to others around the area. Where are you?

Jul 15, 2009, 4:06pm Top

>106 kshrum: Norman, Oklahoma. It is the main Branch for the Pioneer Library System which is probably the second or third largest in Oklahoma. I think the first two being the Metropolitan Library System for the Greater OKC Metro Area which is the capital (where I grew up) and whatever the Tulsa System is called. . .

Jul 17, 2009, 2:49pm Top

Ok, if this woman on the computer "pssts" at me one more time to get my attention (cause she can't do something like say "Excuse me, Ms, can you help me.) when she can't figure out the next question on the job application she is working on, I think I'm going to scream. Maybe I should pinch her next time, cause she obviously thinks I'm a snake, why else would she be hissing at me....

Jul 17, 2009, 3:04pm Top

>108 amberamber:,

I hate when people do that. Or when they talk to you in the over-exaggerated stage whisper (because it's a library and you're supposed to be quite).
My biggest pet peeve though is when people call me "hon" or "honey". Aside from the fact that I have a perfectly good (and easily pronounceable) name written in big letters on my name tag, I find it somewhat disrespectful. Maybe that's just me?

Jul 17, 2009, 6:18pm Top

>108 amberamber:, i actually had someone snap their fingers at me a few weeks ago. i raised my eyebrows and yelled across the way, "sir? did you need help!?" haha it was great.

>109 SylviaO:: as a twenty-something library enthusiast, i meet a lot of... friendly old men. however, last week took the cake: "are you in this year's library calendar?" no, sir. i'm not.

Jul 17, 2009, 6:27pm Top

@ #108 and 109: Our OPAC is often pretty slow (Imagine that!) and the catalog stations are right beside my desk. I regularly get patrons sitting there searching and making very loud exasperated "humph" noises, quite obviously trying to passive-aggressively get my attention and make me leap to their aid like the good little servant I so clearly am...and all because it takes more than 3 seconds for the search results to load. I just ignore them until they address me to my face.

I also get people yelling to me from across the room. Um, hello? LIBRARY?

And, like number 110, I do get some friendly older males, including one who told me I was too pretty to be a librarian. If THAT isn't a back-handed compliment, I don't know what is!

Jul 17, 2009, 7:36pm Top

I work in a blended academic/public library. I had a public patron go off on me because I could not tell him for certain if his online food stamp application went through or not. After he submitted it, it said application received and then it said connection interrupted. He closed out of the page before I saw the message. I told him the only way to know for sure was to call the food stamp office. I then got a 5 minute lecture on how we need to inform people that the computers are not reliable.....

Edited: Jul 20, 2009, 5:03pm Top

it occasionally works the other way.. some librarians treat you as if you are one of "those" patrons if you dare ask a question or request help. Have had it happen far too often... but I spend a lot of time in libraries.

But I'm generally sympathetic to your stories...being a public school teacher, I have a few of my own.

Jul 20, 2009, 11:25pm Top

> #25... I also work in a library that serves disabled patrons (ones who can't read standard print) with most of our service by mail and phone. We also get people (who should know better by now because they call every day) who launch into their requests and sound surprised when I ask for their names. How else will I be able to send them the book?

There is also a portion of our public who call who feel the need to explain themselves to me. We specialize in service to blind and visually impaired and people with other print impairments, and we do also serve other people, so saying they're one of our blind patrons is fine, and helpful. What I don't need is their diagnosis, their medical history, etc. I know more about the health of some of our patrons than I know about my own! Or so it seems.

Another annoyance is noise in the background when they call: tv, radio, screaming kids, sometimes all three! And worse, when the static of a cell phone is thrown into the mix. And sometimes, they're having discussions (or arguments) with people with them while talking to me. Rude and annoying.

Jul 21, 2009, 8:39am Top

Patrons that call and want a certain book because they saw it advertised and want it immediatly and you tell them well that book doesn't come out for 2 months and they argue with you because they saw it advertised!

Jul 21, 2009, 9:40am Top

> LOL 115!

Jul 21, 2009, 11:46am Top

>115 susiesharp:

I love those! "But I saw it on TV...."

Jul 21, 2009, 2:48pm Top

Or when they saw something on Oprah along with a billion other people and balk at being put on the holds list...

When I worked the Telephone Reference line, we used to get a glut of calls at 4 PM or whenever Oprah finished from people who wanted whatever book she mentioned, or more info about whatever she talked about.

Jul 22, 2009, 12:20am Top

A few of my favorites-
Parents who want me to lie to their children, as in "if you don't bring those books back on time, they won't let you come in the library." Maybe some other library you visited has that policy but we don't.

Parents who say to their kids, "you read that book already. Read something different."

The patron today who couldn't figure out why he couldn't log in to his yahoo mail in the hotmail page and of course it was our fault.

The mother who put her baby in its carrier on the counter and asked me to watch it while she went off to do something. Or the mother who asked us to make sure her teen daughter didn't leave with a man.

Jul 22, 2009, 10:39am Top

On the public internet computers the homepage is the library website. Sometimes new computer patrons see that and ask "how do I get to the REAL internet?"

Jul 22, 2009, 11:15am Top

Msg 120 yep!! I hear that too!

Jul 22, 2009, 12:36pm Top

>120 LakeJan:,121 That sounds like my mother. Even at home she has to have google or yahoo search engine. I think because she learned to use the internet in the early early nineties back when we had AOL, she thinks in order to get to a website one must use a search engine. I've tried half a dozen times to explain the url/internet bar to her. She just doesn't get it. Maybe that's a generational thing? It cracks me up though!

Jul 22, 2009, 5:44pm Top

The worst - WORST - patrons are parents who are obviously doing their kid's homework assignments for them. As the parent is peppering me with questions, the 12-year-old boy is standing there either a) slack-jawed with his eyes glazed over or b) unable to get a word in edgewise because Mom has strong opinions about what direction this report on sea otters should take. Honestly lady, was sixth grade not interesting enough for you the first time around?

Jul 22, 2009, 9:27pm Top

123, yes, I'm right there with you. I love it when I demonstrate our databases to Mom and child -- and the child keeps wandering off, or looking around, etc. I'm always thinking "So, are you going to do all of his/her homework for them all the way through college, too?" Of course, I keep all of my snarky remarks to myself. However, the one thing that gets the kid's attention is always when I tell them that it's cool how you can email stuff from the databases: always good when you have a group project with another kid that you don't like.... ;)~

Jul 23, 2009, 10:46am Top

20 years ago, before Internet, I was helping a couple of teens with their junior reserch project and overheard them talking about another student whose mom had bought him a term paper for $200. They were envious and wished their parents could afford to buy one as well. I can only imagine that nowadays it's even easier to cheat in this way.

Jul 23, 2009, 1:23pm Top

Our OPAC allows patrons to place a hold on available items. The report is run in the wee hours in the morning and we pull them from the stacks around 9AM M-F. We get plenty of faculty & students who come in right after they've placed a hold from their office/room and are upset that we haven't pulled it for them yet.

We also have a Document Delivery service for faculty/staff & grad students where we scan journal articles from our physical collection and deliver them electronically via their ILL account. We do this once a day, M-F. Recently, we had a faculty member who submitted a request late Friday night after we had closed. They became disgruntled because they did not receive the article until Monday afternoon.

I really want to start publicizing that we are not a pizza parlor offering delivery in 30min or less.

Another classic is the person who places holds on a bunch of items right before they go on vacation for a month and then throws a fit because we only keep things on our hold shelf for a week.

Jul 23, 2009, 2:48pm Top

@ #114: Re: background noise, one of my special memories is answering the phone and the only thing I hear is a toilet flushing. Not hard to identify. You might think this would be a prank call where the caller then immediately hung up, but no, then a person came on with their question!

Jul 23, 2009, 7:09pm Top

I wouldn't say this is annoying, precisely, but I would call it ironic. . . .

Just had a fifth-grader come in and ask me if we had Twilight. All copies are currently checked out. Well, did we have the first Harry Potter? Again, all copies are out. After asking what sort of books she liked to read ("Mostly Twilight and Harry Potter") and what she liked about Twilight and Harry Potter ("They have a lot of action and adventure") and a few more such questions, I made several suggestions. All were dismissed out of hand as being "too long" (none were as long as Twilight's 498 pages; most were shorter than Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone's 306). I let her browse in the juvenile fiction for a while, while I helped another patron. After I was done with that, she came back to the desk. Finally, she asked for a book we had in. Which book was it, you might ask?

Eragon. 509 pages. *shakes head*

Jul 24, 2009, 10:16am Top


It's probably harder, as teachers now have databases to check if a paper has ever been submitted anywhere. Although $200 sounds like a custom job.


I've had patrons walk over to the OPAC, put in a hold, then walk over to the desk oblivious as to why it isn't there for them.

Jul 28, 2009, 6:00pm Top

@125 and @129

There are plenty of places you can still get a custom job. I know a person who brags that he got his mortgage writing term papers for a living.

Jul 29, 2009, 11:58am Top

My favorite was the kid who came in and asked if we had any good books. I wanted to say "Sadly, no - all of our books are crappy."

Jul 29, 2009, 12:26pm Top

^^Oh, I get asked for "just a good book" all the time! It can be maddening! "Good" is such a subjective term! Give me a little bit more to go on, people!

Jul 29, 2009, 1:52pm Top

I say, just airily wave your hand in the general direction of the stacks and say "They're ALL good! Just pick one!"

Maybe they'll be a little more specific on the next try.

Jul 29, 2009, 4:23pm Top

Since I deal with library patrons over the phone, if they ask for a good book they get whatever I'm reading.. unless I have the time to look at their reading history or talk to them about what they've liked recently. Depends on how hoppin' the phone is that day.
Lately I've picked out Elsewhere, Assassination Vacation, The Tale of Hill Top Farm: Cottage tales of Beatrix Potter, and Atonement to send to patrons.

Jul 29, 2009, 7:48pm Top

Found today

Library fan nears 25,000th book
An avid reader in south west Scotland is on the brink of borrowing her 25,000th book from her local libraries.

Louise Brown, 91, from Stranraer, took her first book on loan from Castle Douglas library in 1946.

Since then she has borrowed at least six books every week throughout each year and has recently increased that to about 12 volumes every seven days.

Library staff said they were amazed by the achievement, particularly since Mrs Brown has never had an overdue fine.

The Dumfries and Galloway pensioner first became a member at Castle Douglas library and has particularly fond memories of the staff there.

'Remarkable lady'

She began using Stranraer Library in October 2002 when she moved there to live with her daughter.

Staff at the library described Mrs Brown as a "remarkable lady" and said they looked forward to her weekly visits.

They also believe that her book borrowing figures could constitute a Scottish record.

They have asked any library with a more prolific reader to contact them.

Janice Goldie, the cultural services manager for the region, said they had not heard of anyone who could match her.

She said: "We are fascinated to know if Mrs Brown's record can be beaten.

"There may be other people out there who can beat them and we would love them to get in touch.

"We very much want Dumfries and Galloway to be celebrated as a reading region."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/07/28 23:25:18 GMT


Jul 29, 2009, 11:18pm Top

OOPS! Sorry I put it here (and I should have just used link) but it was something I thought you would like to read

Jul 30, 2009, 12:50pm Top

I read that earlier today! What a great story!

Edited: Jul 31, 2009, 11:02am Top

>98 kshrum:
We had a DVD returned with spots of SUPERGLUE all over it! How does a library DVD jump out of it's case and get in the way of your home fix-it project?

Needless to say, the DVD could not be repaired.

Jul 31, 2009, 3:46pm Top

Whoa today was day of the crazies! First, yes ladies and gentlemen, a man brought in a dog, yep you heard me right- a dog. He thought he could bring in this dog while he checked the catalog. Cute thing- I think it was a basset hound. Second, another rather odorous man brought in boxes and boxes (corona light boxes) of papers he was sorting through. I didn't have the nerve to ask him what the papers were of.

Aug 5, 2009, 6:10pm Top


Library staff said they were amazed by the achievement, particularly since Mrs Brown has never had an overdue fine.

Violation of confidentiality. (joking)


Dogs are patrons too. (not joking)

Aug 6, 2009, 9:17am Top

Yesterday I had a man explain to me for well over an hour (slow day) that Barack Obama's father died of a marijuana overdose, and that's why he won't legalize pot even though it's legal in New Jersey.

I sometimes wonder where people get their information from or if they just make it up as they go along.

Aug 9, 2009, 7:17pm Top

What I hate, absolutely HATE, is when parents try to dictate what their kids should be reading:

"Don't you think you should read something on your own level?"

"Haven't you read that before?"

"No, you don't want to read that book."

"A book from the teen section? I don't think you're ready for that."

People, if your kids are excited abut reading, let them read!!

Aug 9, 2009, 11:57pm Top

I say that on purpose a lot to see if anyone catches 1) my reference...Scrubs the TV show and 2) if anyone will correct me.

So far, nobody has done so. I'm a little surprised because I work with a lot of people who tend to notice these sort of things. Either they're being nice and thinking that I don't know better or they don't know better.

It helps to have little games we play in our heads to make the day go by.

Aug 9, 2009, 11:59pm Top


They are? Not where I work. Only service animals are allowed. We do have a program where children read to a service dog. That tends to work quite well. Otherwise, no pets allowed unless they're of the pretend stuffed animal kind.

Aug 10, 2009, 6:50pm Top

Re: 144

I bet the dogs love to hear about Clifford and Marmaduke.

Aug 11, 2009, 1:56pm Top

I work in a college library, and we are bombarded on a daily basis with questions about how to fill out the financial aid forms, why their financial aid is delayed, what is their PIN number, etc. Um, don't you think it would make sense to ask someone in FINANCIAL AID those questions??? I also love "I filled out all the information on the fafsa form, and now I want to log back in and change something, but it won't let me. What is my password?" Oh yeah, gotta love financial aid season . . .

Aug 11, 2009, 10:17pm Top

Re: 146 I get the same thing in a high school library. Just because the computers are in the library, they expect us to know the intricate ins and outs of the FAFSA website, College Board, every individual college ... I generally suggest they talk to their counselor or the Career Center but apparently none of the students want to deal with anyone but library staff (that's what we get for being nice to them!!)

Aug 12, 2009, 1:08pm Top

146, 147

They expect the public librarians to know all that too. In fact, I'm, evidently supposed to be familiar with how to navigate every single site on the internet. FAFSA forms, dating sites, every webmail program in existence, unemployment forms, shopping sites, banking sites ... I could go on and on.

Aug 12, 2009, 1:37pm Top

#148 -- Not to mention any online game site for kids! I am supposed to be able to trouble-shoot not only the games that are installed on the computers in the children's room where I work, but also any game site that kids may go to online.

Aug 17, 2009, 11:50am Top

Yes... I was recently asked (by a small boy) if I could set him up on "the football game I played here before." The accompanying adult seemed to think this was a reasonable request, even after I explained that the library doesn't have a football game installed on the computer, and that it must have been an internet game... somewhere on the internet.

Aug 18, 2009, 8:20am Top

I was just reminded of another one whilst cleaning out the book drop this morning. Patrons who do not remove their bookmarks. I just removed about two pads worth of post-its from eight books. One of which was a really old book with thin, brittle paper. Fortunately, no apparent damage was done.

Edited: Aug 18, 2009, 2:38pm Top

I just experienced a moment of great self-control. There was a women sitting waiting for a computer with her baby (about a year old) and the baby starts to make those squeally noises that babies make. The mom is trying to quiet the baby, she isn't just letting it scream. But after about the third squeal this woman at the computer snaps her head towards them and yell-whispers "Shhh!!" and then loudly under her breath grumbles about now the baby should be quiet. Now, what truly makes this moment annoying is the fact that the lady who shushed the baby cames in damn near everyday, grumbles about eveything and then talks on her cell phone so loudly that I can hear everyone word across the whole library. And she has really important conversations that just can't wait, I'm sure, like the 20 minute conversation she had with her son a few weeks back, the were going to meet at the racetrack for his birthday. She also uses the library like its her office, taking work calls "SoandSos Law Firm, how can I help you.", doing work stuff on our computers and getting annoyed when her time runs out.
I could have pointed out how less annoying the baby was in comparison with crap she pulls, but I didn't. I think I deserve a gold star.

Aug 18, 2009, 7:02pm Top

I think we all deserve gold stars.

A ruler would be useful for the grumpy patrons who can't tolerate the harried parent.

Aug 20, 2009, 1:25pm Top

^152 amberamber, doesn't your library have a policy against cell phone usage? Or at least against loud cell phone usage? I agree it wouldn't have been suitable to actually tell her she's more annoying than the baby, but I think it's a disservice to other patrons if she's allowed to engage in that same behavior day after day.

I dread having to tell people to go outside with the cell phone calls... but I do it. As much as I dislike doing it, it would be worse not to.

Aug 20, 2009, 4:33pm Top

>154 amysisson: Nope, we have no cell phone policy. All that I can do is look at them disapprovingly when they get too loud, but if you are rude enough to talk that loud then you really don't care if you get nasty looks. If someone becomes very disruptive, I can ask them to leave, but it doesn't happen too often. Which is good, cause that can be scary, especially since we don't have any security. We could put up signs to ask people to speak quietly, but that would require people to read them, which hasn't worked so far with any sign that we've put up about anything else. I wish we had a no cell phone policy, but the library I work at has a very "let the patron's do what they want" kind of mentality. The powers that be don't want to anger them, so consiquentaly the staff must suffer along with the patrons who act like responsible adults.

And that's why I need a thread like this, so that at least I know that I am not alone. :)

Aug 20, 2009, 4:43pm Top

My library has some kind of thingy set up so that it blocks cell phones. No coverage inside the library.

Aug 20, 2009, 5:14pm Top

#156---Mwhahaha! Darkly brilliant!

My problem with no signs is that when you do ask someone to take their call elsewhere, they automatically look for signage. I would like to have signs to back me up.

Common courtesy, like sense, is not so common.

Aug 20, 2009, 5:15pm Top

oooooo! I want that!! No coverage would be so cool! We do have a cell phone policy and have signs all over the library stating so, but you all know about signs....Who reads them?

Aug 20, 2009, 7:20pm Top

I've always been told that in the UK it's simply not legal to block any wireless telegraphy transmissions, for any reason!

And just imagine ... our transatlantic former colonials have the nerve to call us socialists and communists!

But I agree, such a device is sorely needed: in libraries, in theatres, in concert halls, and in a circle, radius 50m, with me at the centre!

Aug 20, 2009, 10:22pm Top

#156 -- If we had that in my library, I think the kids would go mad. Last year a student actually said he wasn't going to go to Gradnite at Disneyland because he wouldn't be able to take his cell phone! It boggles the mind ...

Aug 21, 2009, 9:40am Top

>160 FionaCat:, cellphones have become like extra appendages for some people. I was at a movie with friends last night and one of them was updating his Facebook status during the movie. (Incidentally, it was to complain about how much he hated people talking during the film. Slight irony?)

I have a question, though, for the people whose libraries block or scramble cellphone signals. How far away from the library must you be to get reception again?

Aug 21, 2009, 10:22am Top

>131 bookclubwithoutaname: This happens to me almost daily and I have always wanted to reply "What do you think this is... a library?"

Aug 21, 2009, 10:28am Top

#148 and #149
My favorite is when the children on the computer want to know "How do you play this game?"

Sheesh...do they think I sit around and play games on the computer all day! I wish...lol.

Aug 21, 2009, 11:12am Top

> 156, 159

Cell phone jamming is illegal in the US, as well. Where is your library, cmbohn?

Not that that stops the truly desperate (*ahem*) from buying illegal jammers from overseas and employing them at strategic moments (but not continuously).

Aug 21, 2009, 12:56pm Top

Sometimes at the end of the day, when I have people on their laptops that have already been warned that we are closing and they still won't leave, I will discreetly pull the power cord on the wireless router and kill the signal. The faces that they make are just priceless. It's like they turn into cavemen, beating on the keyboard, furiously clicking the mouse, I even saw someone pick the laptop up and look all around it.

I giveth the wireless signal and I taketh away... *evil laugh*

Aug 21, 2009, 2:11pm Top

I live in Utah. So I'm not sure how they get away with it. There are 2 libraries I visit often, and they both do it.

Aug 22, 2009, 8:35am Top

On the topic of cell phones: the children's room at my library is in the basement, and while this does have its drawbacks (including a persistent leak when it rains), it is nearly impossible to get reception since we are below ground level. Bwa-ha-ha!

Aug 23, 2009, 8:24pm Top

I work in the children department and will answer the phone and tell them what department they are calling and they will ask me if this is the Children's department. After I had just said 5 seconds ago.

Aug 24, 2009, 1:06am Top

My mother telephoned my middle school librarian and asked him not to let me check out books about witches or ghosts or 'stuff like that.' The librarian took me aside the next day and told me about it. He said, "I don't have time to monitor your reading habits, so if you check something out you think your mother wouldn't approve of, either keep it here at school or try to hide it." He also gave me a paper book cover that I used for a while. Best librarian ever, I gotta say.

Thank you all for what you do. I think I'm going to share the up-thread discussion about how individual taxpayer contributions to your salary end up being less than a dollar per hour with my co-workers at Social Services. We get that, too.

Aug 25, 2009, 12:10pm Top


I used to have to do this on a regular basis.

Aug 25, 2009, 2:15pm Top

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Sep 5, 2009, 3:38pm Top

We have emergeny exits all around our library. patrons come in look at our library books, check them out then walk all the way to the emergency exit to leave. When the alarm goes off, they looked shocked and confused. I want to go over there and ask. "You didn't see the giant DO NOT EXIT sign right infront of you? Come on people show a little common sense. You obviously can read or you wouldn't be checking these books out!"

Sep 7, 2009, 11:25am Top

I had someone come in and ask if I could set them up an ebay account I said yes as long as you have a email account.."Oh I don't have one as I don't have a computer at home" said the patron. so I said I can help you set that up too and she said well you have an ebay account can you just buy it for me and I'll pay you??..Umm No!I'm happy to help but I'm not starting something like that since its a smal town next thing I know I'd have everyone and their brother asking me to do it!

Sep 7, 2009, 9:59pm Top

>173 susiesharp:

I had a lady who wanted to do that with Amazon. I also had a man who wanted to bring his stuff to the library so that I could list it on eBay for him.

Sep 11, 2009, 2:02am Top

I visited 2 locations of the public library system today. The first location has an every present security guard, who promptly escorted a patron out of the library while her ignored cell phone continued to spill out country music. A few hours later in my day of unemployment I visited another location. No security guard here. Apparently this male patron's need for affirmation was not met from the loud woman on his phone. The patron wanted to make sure we all knew his good deed for the day. I scurry for the self-check machine. If I wanted drama I would have stayed home to watch television.

Sep 11, 2009, 2:27am Top

I am a unemployed Library Clerk/Library Assistant, who has been referred to in the past as a Librarian by a Library Director who was not a Librarian. I travel around the country while working as a live-in nanny, so I have collected a few library cards. Recently I have patronized 6 of the 22 public library locations. Two of the libraries have full-time security guards (woah).
My point is the unmannerly, rude and obnoxious patrons who use the computers, and utilize the newspaper area. I have found it necessary to leave my computer due to my intolerance of my neighbor's water bottle slurping (hey, look at the sign on the wall), his grunts, groans, his attempts to dislodge sinus congestion, and his methods to remove perspiration. I then move to the newspaper section with the distraction from the NYT. The nearby patron seems uncomplicated, late 40s, waiting for his daughter. Noooo.... He coughs, he breathes (where do those weird sounds come from), and scratches. Paaalease.
Maybe I can move to a different chair by pretending to pick up yesterday's edition: I look to my right. Gee I must be careful lest I wake THAT PATRON.
I give up, and decide to plan my next essay on John Muir, which happens to be at the very end of the stack. A young girl approached me, moves in behind and below me, shelves a book and bumps me as she goes around the corner. Doesn't say excuse me..... I really want the John Muir's book, I persist in my pursuit, and here she comes back again. ( at this point I don't want to be called old school and give all mid 50 patrons a bad name, so I step completely out of the stack (with John Muir in hand), in order for her to shelve another book. Everyone else posts library patron antics as funnies.... I can't seem to make this funny, maybe employment would help, (smile).

Sep 11, 2009, 8:45pm Top

ah, the "Libary"... That used to drive me nuts too, but that's how they say it on Futurama. That's the only reason I was able to come to terms with it.

Sep 11, 2009, 9:07pm Top

I worked at a private Christian school. One day three teenage girls came in asking for information about health. I helped them out and noticed that they seem kind of nervous. I asked them what is it they are looking for so that I can provide it to them. They giggled, and were hesitant, and finally tell me they want to read about homosexuality. So I provided them with the encyclopedia, after looking at the information for a while, they call me and asked me "is homosexuality contagious? because there's a new girl who is a lesbian and they don't want to be lesbians"! Incredible.

Sep 17, 2009, 1:59pm Top

TWICE today...
Child One, sitting at the computer to take an AR test. "Have I already tested on this book?"

Child Two, at the circ desk: "Have I read this book already?"

yes, I keep track of every book every student had checked out/read/tested on, I want to say. However, sarcasm is usally lost on 2nd graders.

Sep 20, 2009, 2:10pm Top

The challenge in Librarianship is not looking at the public as an assortment of annoying habits but respecting their humanity. A spiritual quest really, to respect people,to withold judgement,to act with a clear and open heart. I'm not a saint,and I feel all the irritations others have posted! But I feel like being a librarian can be a growing experience in acting and speaking with integrity and kindness. Hopefully!

Sep 25, 2009, 12:48pm Top

I don't like to complain, but I did have an instance today ...

"Stop doing that or I'll get the librarian to tell you that you can't use the computers any more!"

(The "that" was something that irritated the mother - not me or anyone else in the library!)

Sorry, but I like children. I don't work in youth services to be the bad guy!

Sep 25, 2009, 3:25pm Top

Why complain?
Teachers and other professionals working with people and providing services have to put up with stupidity. We are just humans :-D

I do not envy someone driving everyday taking dangerous chemicals or explosives to a factory, putting up with traffic jams, police officers in some areas or working with smelly products.
I am happy just by putting up with "normal" stupidity. :-D

Sep 27, 2009, 8:32pm Top

There seem to be a lot of stalker types at my library ....

Sep 27, 2009, 10:37pm Top

I used to work in an academic library that had most of it's collection (200.000 or so volumes) stored away in stacks. They aren't stored by subject, but by bookcase number and shelf number.
The library system was down due to an update and a lady rings:
"I am looking for..." and mentioned the title.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, but the system is down for an update, so I can't look it up for you." I told her the system would probably be up and running again in a few hours and if I could call her back?
"It's really urgent, I need it this morning!"
"I'm really sorry, but-"
"Can't you just go into the stacks and pick it up??"
"The books aren't ordered by subject and we've got well over 200.000 volumes..."
"It's blue!!!"

And she was actually surprised that I STILL couldn't just pick it off the shelves for her :-)

Edited: Sep 27, 2009, 11:04pm Top

What really annoyed me at the library were I worked was that people would use our mailbox as a rubbish bin. Regularly we would have to remove cigarette butts, plastic bags or used paper napkins from it.

The library is located in a shopping centre and the steps to the library's entrance usually invite wary shoppers to sit down and eat their snacks and apparently drop their rubbish in the library's mailbox.

One day, I stood inside near the mailbox when I heard it slammer shut. Assuming the paper had been delivered I opened it. To my chagrin I noticed a crumpled plastic bag that was stuffed inside.
"Yeah, hello! This is a mailbox, not a rubbish bin!" I called out in frustration into the box while removing the bag.
I threw the bag in a nearby bin and walked away. While doing so, I glanced outside through the glass entrance doors and noticed a little boy standing in front of the mailbox staring at it with large eyes and an open mouth...

Oct 2, 2009, 1:43pm Top

We have Teens who come in and will stay on the computers from 10am when we open. To 6 or 9 (depending on the day) when we close. We finally had to limit them. And when we do, they come up and complain because they were on for 7 hours and want to know why we kicked them off. I love it when a teen came up and said, "I was just in the middle of my game why did the computer kick me off?" I wanted to say this a library not an arcade! But the sad thing is adults will do it to. It's like hello people, pick up a book!!!!

Oct 2, 2009, 4:48pm Top

Why don't you have shorter limits? The libraries I visit here in Canada and also in England all have half-hour time limits. That's all you get.

Oct 2, 2009, 5:39pm Top

I'm sitting here waiting to get off work and you all have given me my good laugh of the day! My favorite so far are patrons who think they know me well enough to critique my wardrobe. I've had it happen twice, and even though were small in a small town they were strangers. Next time it happens I'm going to take the advice of the late Ann Landers and reply" Since we don't know each other why would you think you could make a personal remark like that?" What I'd really like to say is "Unless your name is Clinton or Stacy and you work for TLC DON"T ing worry about it!

Oct 3, 2009, 11:42am Top

I work in a small rural library where one main desk and its (very small) staff handles just about everything in the library except local history/genealogy. Some afternoons, I am the only person staffing that desk.

What drives ME crazy are people who call with a legitimate question but seem to think I have nothing else to do but to chat with them for 20 minutes while they tell me their whole life story, or at least a lot of details not relevant to the answering of their query. Meanwhile, a line of patrons is gathering while I try to finish the phone query and get back to the people at hand . . . I like to be friendly toward patrons, but there are limits! Some folks get offended if I say, "I'm sorry I can't chat, but I have a line of people here . . ." but what else can I do?

Oct 6, 2009, 4:32pm Top

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Oct 7, 2009, 2:31pm Top

I tend to get patrons who bring me over to look at a blank computer screen (or the desktop) and insist to me that they saved their document (they didn't), or they printed it (they didn't), or they.....

All I see is a blank screen, and I have no way of knowing if they did what they say they did. But they think I can magically fix everything.

Oct 21, 2009, 12:22pm Top

Anyone else have people get mad at them because you don't know the password/user name for their email account....sigh... it's going to be a long day.

Edited: Oct 21, 2009, 2:06pm Top

We just learned at our workplace that bad - mouthing the library (and the library staff) on discussion boards will get the library to bend rules for you.

Oct 21, 2009, 3:13pm Top

Our library has it's fair share of annoying patrons. I find it frustating (maybe because it happens way to much) when a patron comes in and just throws their card on the desk and doesn't say anything.I have to ask them questions to figure out what they want. I've had patrons come up to the desk and not say one word. I'm like ok... Also when a patron does come up and ask a question, while you are answering them, they just start walking away. They just leave pretty much talking to yourself.

Oct 21, 2009, 4:54pm Top

Ask me to hack her daughter's Myspace.

Oct 22, 2009, 2:57pm Top

People who come to the library w/o their library card...I used to wonder when working in the public library, what kind of moron goes to the library without their library card. *Blushing*...last night I made a trip in the dark and rain to pick up a book that I'd reserved. And found that I'd left my library card at home. Now I know what kind of idiot does that. Sigh. So last night, I was the annoying patron.

Oct 22, 2009, 6:08pm Top

I had a mother call yesterday looking for her son he had just left and she said well he is grounded so if he comes in there again after school tell him to go home....
Now today the same kid comes in and says your supposed to call my mom ,so I did and she proceeds to tell me two of her other children have H1N1 but her son doesn't.

Then why is he sitting at my public computer coughing and blowing his nose!!!
Yikes anyone have any advice on how to handle this??

Oct 22, 2009, 9:16pm Top

Thanks I must have missed that article.I did bleach and disenfect the computer and chair & sprayed lysol everywhere!
But it doesn't say what if you are right and get it!

Oct 23, 2009, 9:47am Top

Say goodbye to 10 days of sick time.

Oct 23, 2009, 10:05am Top

lol you get sick days ;(

Oct 26, 2009, 10:25am Top

Does anyone else have problems with giving off the librarian vibe while at other libraries? I was strolling through my local branch, with a "shopping list" of books to take home, and a stack of books in my arms and a patron came up asking for help finding the audiobooks. I asked if he was looking for audio for adults or kids (I was in the kids section), gave him directions.. then didn't have the heart to tell him that I don't work there.

This is the second time this has happened. Last time it involved taking a kid to the card catalog to find the book he was looking for because I wasn't familiar with the series. Next thing I knew kid and dad were both looking at the catalog with me, and I still didn't say I don't work there.

Oct 26, 2009, 12:51pm Top

>202 ShannonMDE:: I've noticed many patrons have this lost little puppy dog look in libraries. They look for someone who looks a) like they know where they are and b) approachable. You must be both!

Oct 26, 2009, 2:09pm Top

#202/203 -- I've had this happen in bookstores, too. It doesn't help that I have a tendency to jump in and help, if I know what someone is looking for.

Oct 26, 2009, 3:13pm Top

Just add it to "my good deeds" list and you'll be ahead on slack days.

Oct 27, 2009, 11:15am Top

Given the number of "patrons not having their cards" posts in this topic, am I a bad librarian for accepting an engraved iPod as a form of ID?

Oct 27, 2009, 1:27pm Top

206.. I believe in being as flexible as possible when it means getting books into patron's hands.

Oct 27, 2009, 2:40pm Top

It was a video game.

Oct 27, 2009, 7:58pm Top

Our most "interesting" recent patron strolled into the library with a stick over his shoulder and dangling on the end of the stick, behind his back, were four or five freshly caught large eels - dead but not yet smelly. He wanted to access the film collection and watch a movie. He did amiably stroll out again when asked to take them away.

We also have a coffee shop inside our doors so can no longer say no to food and drink in the library. But we do ask people to treat the library's spaces like their own lounges. Mostly this works!

Oct 27, 2009, 9:54pm Top

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Oct 28, 2009, 6:45pm Top

>202 ShannonMDE: and 203: Perhaps you have one of those "I can help you" faces. I do not live in NYC, but when I am in Manhattan, very often someone asks me for directions. Oddly enough, I have been lucky more than not to know the answer.

Oct 29, 2009, 2:09pm Top

****How about this?
COLUMBIA, Tenn. — A vandal has been blotting out the dirty words in books at the Maury County Library.
Officials believe the same person has used a blue pen to censor words in between 50 and 100 books during the past several months.
Library Director Elizabeth Potts said most of the books are mystery novels, but the vandal also targeted the "9/11 Commission Report."
Potts said no one is forced to read the books and "if they don't like them, they should just return them."
Potts said the library doesn't have the money to replace the damaged books, so patrons will to have to use their imagination to guess what the blotted out words are.
Library officials hope to catch the vandal. In the meantime, they have posted a sign on the door asking people not to mark out words they consider offensive.

Oct 29, 2009, 2:58pm Top

#212 I've had unknown patrons "edit" the political commentary books by making comments in the margins-in ink no less-and "correcting" the author's facts. Even if you think they are wrong you shouldn't mark up the library book you checked out!

Oct 29, 2009, 3:01pm Top

As a patron, I like coming across people's comments in books. Sometimes they're very amusing. And in university, I always looked for the books with the most comments--sometimes I got good ideas from them. Obliterating the text isn't at all acceptable though.

Oct 29, 2009, 5:01pm Top

Message 212:
I've picked up magazines in the Persian Gulf and found all the 'unislamic' imagery blacked out with felt pens. They will pay someone to sit there and deface every copy for sale . . .

Oct 29, 2009, 6:14pm Top

There is a lady sitting at the public computer across from me and she smells so strongly of cat pee that my eyes are watering (note: I'm not a cat hater, I have two lovely kitties at home who I adore, so believe me, as a person who knows cats, the stink from this lady is awful). Every few minutes the air blows of wiff of her in my direction and it causes me physical pain. I know that there are libraries that will ask people to leave if their smell is too noxious, but the ones I've heard of all seem to have security guards to handle that job, which is a luxury I don't have. Has only had to personally ask someone to leave before. What do you say? Ick... I feel sick...

Nov 3, 2009, 1:23pm Top

There is a women who comes in everyday and complains about everything. On one computer when she uses it her left eye gets dry and itchy, the computers are too slow(everyday) it's too cold/warm, it smells odd.. etc. Then she tried to convince us that Abraham Lincoln built the cabin he was born in. *sigh*

Nov 3, 2009, 3:12pm Top

Then she tried to convince us that Abraham Lincoln built the cabin he was born in. *sigh*

Oh, that's just great! Thanks for the laugh!

Nov 3, 2009, 3:41pm Top

Then she tried to convince us that Abraham Lincoln built the cabin he was born in. *sigh*

Some people are just too much . . .

Maybe she believes in reincarnation? ;-)

Nov 3, 2009, 3:42pm Top

^^No, no, no! CLEARLY, Abe Lincoln was a time traveler! He didn't actually get assassinated; that was staged so that he could get on with his time travel missions and travel to the past in order to build his own childhood home and thus ensure the smooth course of the future. Clearly.

Nov 3, 2009, 3:50pm Top

#220 Oh, of course, that explains it! ;-)

Nov 3, 2009, 3:53pm Top

#21: Please don't blame the med students! Having been there myself, I can tell you that often all the professor TELLS them is that it's "the red book." The students are then stuck needing that source of information and having no way to find it themselves.

Nov 6, 2009, 11:51am Top

And the cabin was actually his dead wife.

Nov 8, 2009, 7:10pm Top

I had a patron today tell me that I and my library were racist because we didn't have a book about a historical figure (Bessie Coleman-first black female aviator), but we did have them on Amelia Earhart. Because we had books on a white woman and not a black one, we were clearly all racists. She left in a huff. Turns out, she was looking for Bessie Colman--misspelled last name=no catalog record. We have more books on Bessie Coleman than on Amelia Earhart.

Nov 11, 2009, 11:46am Top

Once when I was reshelving books in the academic library where I work I noticed a woman perusing a particular shelf, obviously looking for something she couldn't find:

ME: "Can I help you?"

SHE: (suspiciously looking me up and down several times) "No... I don't think so." (shaking her head).

I insisted ("No, really, try me") and she gave in. I found the book she was looking for in about ten seconds, exactly where it was supposed to be.

ME: There you go.

SHE: Well, look at that! You could help me after all!

To be fair, I'm male, rather young, and working in a library that's otherwise mostly staffed by women in their late 50's, but her inital expression was so disdainful it had to be seen to be believed. Of course, it was even more rewarding than usual to see that expression change to surprise and gratitude.

Nov 12, 2009, 10:56am Top

this struck me as funny...when I was still a student I staffed the main library's information desk and I got a lot of requests for "A big RED book"...much later I found out that there was a book that was "The Big Red Book"...so joke on me :)

>> "Do you have this book? Um, I think it has a blue or a purple cover, and I think there is a butterfly on the cover?"

Nov 12, 2009, 5:27pm Top

Nov 12, 2009, 9:25pm Top

#216 - My library has that problem a LOT - we get a lot of homeless guys in the winter. Basically we're supposed to be really gentle about it, apologize, say other people are complaining (not us) and suggest they go to the shelter to clean up. But the shelter is a bit of a pit and often the washing facilities are broken. A while ago we had an old guy who refused to go, so he got to stay and stink the joint up because my manager didn't know what to do when he refused. (I wanted to call the police, since we do have the right to ask people to leave.) We have a guard, but this is one of those endless jobs that's supposed to be performed by a librarian in charge. If the person gets out of hand, the guard will eject them, but not just for stinking.

Nov 14, 2009, 2:39pm Top

Ok -- here's my little irritation of the day: patrons who call in, and say, "Do you have any books by....." and then spell the name really quickly. Of course, I don't have my catalog screen up all the time, at the ready, and also wasn't writing at light speed to catch the name. So, I need to ask them to please repeat the name.... which they do, in a huffy tone (because, you know, I'm just soooooo rude to ask them to repeat themselves).

Nov 15, 2009, 12:25pm Top

ShannonMDE, your posting is funny... You are sweet to do that.

Nov 15, 2009, 12:26pm Top

Too funny...... smile

Nov 15, 2009, 2:39pm Top

230> How many hundreds of posts back did ShannonMDE make her post? Could you include a message number next time?

Nov 17, 2009, 12:27am Top

I'm at a community college library, and while I don't think these folks are being annoying per se, I'm distressed when they ask me to figure out step 37 of a 50-step Microsoft Word or Access assignment -- when each step follows on the one before. I've had students who want me to sit with them for an hour while they plod through these assignments.

I DO get annoyed when the main reason they can't do step 37 is because they're skimming instead of reading the steps.

Edited: Nov 18, 2009, 1:56pm Top

I don't know if it's been mentioned before-but on thing that really annoys my colleagues and I, is repeatedly having to explain that the next computer is not available untill....(what ever time).

You will say" the next one is is available at (blah) and the customer will say, " but I only want it for a few minutes.." or I only want to print something-is there one available now?!!!

Sometimes it is a language problem-but mostly not... can anyone explain this phenomenon?

silly really to complain about but it can get irritating when you get this 3 times in a row!

Nov 18, 2009, 2:08pm Top

I think it's more the frustration of having to wait than the lack of understanding that you have to wait X minutes for the next computer. I think we have become so used to instant gratification that we now expect it for certain things and when we don't get it, it can make us quite unpleasant. I know some of my patrons seem to be under the impression that if they complain long enough about how briefly they need to use the computer, I will let them use mine. lol
I have been to some libraries where they offer 15 minute computers to use for things like checking email and printing. It seems to work pretty well.

Nov 23, 2009, 3:55pm Top

We have 15-minute stations and it's still not enough! It's a total instant gratification/self-importance thing.

Nov 24, 2009, 10:46am Top

We have a 15-minute station a 30-minute station and two 1-hour stations and people are always complaining we need more ___ stations, some want more hours some want more 15 some want more computers and don't understand how we can have so much money for books but none for computers. Some people are just never satisfied no matter what.

Nov 30, 2009, 5:01pm Top

I seem to get a lot of patrons who are ASTOUNDED we only have a black and white printer, and we don't have a scanner and we don't have a fax machine. I'm not sure why they think we have to provide for free everything Kinko's provides for a fee -- or how they think we can afford to!

Dec 1, 2009, 9:02am Top

238, we have those services (except the scanner), but for fees. The color printer is $1.00 a page and the fax machine is about that much...

Dec 1, 2009, 1:31pm Top

239, I can see those services more in a public library. We're a community college library and generally those services aren't associated with students getting their assignments done, so they're not a priority.

I don't think there's anything wrong with any of the patrons asking, of course. I wish we DID have those things available! But I always feel put on the defensive when they seem personally offended by what we don't have, as if we're squandering away their tax money that guarantees them a right to a fax machine! ;-)

Dec 1, 2009, 2:20pm Top

I've been getting alot of the "I know you don't do X, but would you do X for me?" questions lately and they're starting to get annoying (though that's probably just because it's so close to the end of the semester). Today already, I've gotten "I know you don't do class registration, but can you register me for this class?" and "I know you don't proof read papers, but would you read my paper and check it for errors?" I suppose they think these are "I'd rather not"s rather than "I can't"s and that I can make an exception.

Dec 1, 2009, 2:42pm Top

But I always feel put on the defensive when they seem personally offended by what we don't have, as if we're squandering away their tax money that guarantees them a right to a fax machine! ;-)

I know EXACTLY what you mean!

We actually have a fax machine, but it's not always working. (Shame on us!) And some people had a fit because we had to raise copy fees when the old copier died and we had to buy a new one. (Someone expected copies at 10 cents a piece? Like who does that anymore?) Color copies are NOT an option for us . . .

Dec 1, 2009, 5:00pm Top

We have an older visitor who is annoyingly polite. I'm in a non-lending heritage library, so people can only consult works in the reading room and have to request their books through the catalogue. He quite often manages to order the wrong book and then comes to the desk very sheepishly to announce his mistake and ask us to correct it. He then goes on to whisper very loudly, so that everybody can hear, that it is quite important that he gets his books quickly, because the next day he is flying out again to his other house in Vienna (stressing Vienna extra, just to make it extra clear that he has a second house in Vienna.)

Kinda makes me never want to go to Vienna.

Dec 1, 2009, 5:42pm Top

I don't know if it is the cold snap, the waxing of the moon, or Adam Lambert's highjinks, but I have had to deal with public access patrons viewing porn EVERY DAY for the past week. All ages, different places in life, but I am getting very tired of it.

To get the full impact of this, I had not had to deal with this for almost 4 months, then, BOOM. In the 80s when we all wore buttons, I had one that said, "I used to be disgusted, now I'm just amused."

20+ years later, my button would read, "I used to be disgusted, now I'm just tired."

Dec 1, 2009, 7:46pm Top

240, Ah, that makes more sense. :)

Dec 3, 2009, 10:01am Top


Our copies are still 10 cents/copy, but when the color printer that is linked to the internet computers was replaced, those prints went up to 15 cents. That caused a few complaints, but people have since gotten used to the new fee. Just curious...what do most libraries charge for copies?

Dec 3, 2009, 10:12am Top

Our local college library still charges 5 cents which does not cover their costs of course. They've kept it low deliberately in the belief that being so cheap will discourage students from ripping the pages out of books instead of copying.

Dec 3, 2009, 10:41am Top

My university charges 5 cents each too--my husband and I were just talking about this the other day and how it probably didn't cover costs. I didn't think about the ripping out pages part though--good point! We laughed about what would happen if they were free . . . never a copier available, and some students photocopying 900 page books.

Dec 3, 2009, 2:07pm Top

We charge $0.20 for copies and (color) print-outs.

Dec 3, 2009, 2:23pm Top

I'm charging .40 cents a copy just to cover the cost of the ink .It may sound like alot until someone prints out a bunch of 8x 10 full page color pictures and there goes your ink.

Dec 3, 2009, 2:27pm Top

Our library is at 10 cents for black and white, 50 cents for color. It might be good to give this topic its own thread. . . .

Dec 3, 2009, 4:28pm Top

ours is .15 a copy. Most people print out tons of stuff and never claim it so we don't even bother with color prints.

Dec 3, 2009, 4:28pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Dec 3, 2009, 10:35pm Top

Ours is $.10 for black and white and $1.00 for color. We have a computerized print management system where the patrons have to put money in the machine before it will print at all, and that's cut the unclaimed pages down quite a bit, as well as sparing us a lot of work.

Dec 4, 2009, 7:20am Top

Good idea...I will.

Dec 6, 2009, 5:30pm Top

Don't you just love the reference questions completely devoid of context? I just had a patron ask me what J stood for. Seriously? I need a little more to go on. LOL

(BTW-it was one of the writers of the Bible--much easier to find that information than to give a list of all the things J could possibly stand for.)

Dec 18, 2009, 4:04pm Top

Dear Little Old Lady on shouting on her cell phone,
Yelling "I just walked in the library" and proceeding on with your loud conversation makes me want to beat my head into my desk. And turning your back to me after I give you the old "librarian eye" does not make you any quieter.

Thank you,
Your Librarian

Dec 18, 2009, 4:43pm Top

Dear Little Old Lady on shouting on her cell phone,
Yelling "I just walked in the library" and proceeding on with your loud conversation makes me want to beat your head into my desk. And turning your back to me after I give you the old "librarian eye" does not make you any quieter.

Thank you,
Your Librarian

Dec 18, 2009, 4:58pm Top

Is there a statute of limitations on library fines? I went to our local library a couple months ago to sign up for a card, and I had to pay a fine from 1990 when my mother (the adult on the account) checked out a book on single parenting on my card. When I tried to explain that I was only 11 at the time, and most certainly NOT a single parent, the librarian told me that this would make me more responsible in the future. Has this happened at your libraries? I'd love to hear about it.

Dec 18, 2009, 9:19pm Top

#259 Oh, my heavens!

No, I don't think there's a statute of limitations. . . but I think that if that happened at our library, we would not have forced you to pay the fine.

I would think that if you were a juvenile at the time and your mother signed for the card, and she checked out the book, SHE was legally responsible for the fine. You were not of age that you could be held legally responsible at the time the book was checked out. The fact that you've since grown up doesn't change that.

Was the book lost, so that it needed to be replaced, or just returned late, and had an outstanding fine?

Did you talk to the actual library director? Such attitudes are NOT a way to create a base of library patrons who want to support their local library! (And I don't think it will make you more responsible, either. What a ridiculous comment from the librarian!)

Dec 18, 2009, 9:29pm Top

The last posts reminded me of another kind of weird situation that occurred at our library.

Has anyone had the situation where (unknown to you) a non-custodial parent signs for their kid to have a card; but the child's address (the primary address on the card, where overdue notices normally get sent) is that of the OTHER parent, who then got mad at the library?

All the woman had to do was explain the situation the first time we contacted her, and we would have sent the notice to the parent who signed. But, instead, she ignored the early notices and waited until we notified her that it was going to the magistrate, then called and went ballistic on us.

Are we supposed to grill parents about their living arrangements when they sign up for their kids' cards, or what?

Dec 19, 2009, 12:09pm Top

>259 JenSay:. We probably would not have made you pay the fine since you were a child at the time. But as for a statute of limitations, not a chance. I constantly have people with fines that are 6 or 7 years old trying to use the computer or check out a book. Which wouldn't be that big of deal, except that these are not $1 or $2 fines. We're talking $20 or more and often they still have items checked out from 6 years ago. They'll come it to use the library and say that they have never had a card and then lo and behold we find them in the system (cause I card everyone, I learned that the hard way). Yes, there are a few that are genuinely surprised by the fine, but the sad truth is that most of the time there just mad that they couldn't get one pass us. I don't know how may times I've heard people get angry because they "turned that in, so why is there a fine!" Yeah you turned it in, 11 months late. "But I turned it in, why should I be fined because it was late, you have it back." Sigh...

Maybe this is just the library I work at, but God knows we wouldn't get a third of our stuff back if we didn't block people from the computer because of fines and overdues.

Ok, I'm done ranting now. I just know that this exact situation is going to happen today, because it happens everyday....

Dec 19, 2009, 12:49pm Top

Well, I had a new one for me. While I was at the reference desk the other night, one of our pages came up the desk and told me there was a man without any clothes on back in the shelves. My brain did not register what he said, so I said "What?". He repeated himself. While he went to get the assistant director I went to go have a peak. Yup there was a man sitting on one of our low stools back in the corner by the 900's with his laptop - completely naked. As I slowly walked toward him he put his boxers back on and started on his pants. I didn't get too close, and said, "Sir!! You can not have your clothes off in the middle of the library!" He said, "Yes, yes, I understand." He didn't look embarrassed one bit. I was stunned.

Thankfully no patrons saw him. I can just imagine some poor 12 year old coming up to the adult section to get a book on Chicago history and instead finding a naked man.

Oh, and I sanitized the stool after everything was said and done.

Dec 19, 2009, 12:54pm Top

263 - Ewwww!

Dec 19, 2009, 1:01pm Top

#263 Good grief!

#262 I don't understand why people can't understand the general concept that a fine is the penalty for being LATE returning an item . . . and that it doesn't go away just because you wait a while before you come back after returning the item . . .

Edited: Dec 19, 2009, 6:03pm Top

#260 -I spoke with the main branch of the library, and emailed my concern to the director of that branch. A few weeks later I received a reply saying that although it seems unfair to penalize me for an irresponsible parent, this would be a reminder to make returning my books on time a priority for me in the future. Needless to say, I have not been back. I paid the fine, but I haven't stopped seething yet. I'm sure one day I will end my self-imposed boycott.

I forgot to answer your question. I don't know for sure, but I'd guess the book was lost (knowing my mother and her history...). When I pointed out that I was only 11 and that the adult on the account should have been responsible, she told me that once I turned 18 it became my responsibility.

Dec 19, 2009, 6:03pm Top

266> Just saying that their policy is not to forgive library fines is one thing. But that sanctimonious BS is pretty hard to take.

Edited: Dec 19, 2009, 7:50pm Top

I think you should talk with a lawyer. This notion that YOU become responsible at 18 for a debt incurred by your mother when you were a minor flies in the face of almost every legal principle I learned when I studied law as a business student -- at least, if this library is in the United States of America. I don't think the law has changed THAT much over the years.

SOMEONE needs to teach that library staff what the law is!

Our library would never be that unfair.

Edited: Dec 20, 2009, 11:59am Top

My jaw is on the floor. We forgive so many fines in order to SERVE our patrons, I have a hard time accepting that anyone would hold a child responsible for their parents' actions years before.

I think in this instance a letter to the municpality or county governing the library is in order, as well as a letter to the board. Maybe someone needs to retire.

ETA: And lecturing you about responsibility is ridiculously unprofessional.

Edited: Dec 20, 2009, 12:10pm Top

I agree with #269, as far as is applicable.

I think every public library has a board of directors, charged to see that the library serves its community. Funding/governing sources vary widely for libraries; as I understand it, ours runs on its (shrinking) state subsidy and local donations from patrons -- no municipal or county government funds are budgeted to it, though the county library system (which has similar funding sources) covers some shared expenses.

I do know this: if we were as punitive with our fines as your library is, our library would be out of business for lack of donors!

Dec 20, 2009, 2:01pm Top

259 - I agree that it's outrageous and I encourage you to follow up on it, just on principle. You might want to print out a copy of the information people have posted here too. Let us know what happens.

Dec 20, 2009, 4:57pm Top

>259 JenSay: - Did you also pay off her credit cards when you turned 18? I seriously doubt there's any legal basis for that!

Dec 21, 2009, 10:46am Top

There's absolutely no legal basis to hold someone responsible for fines incurred while they were a minor. (Minors can't sign contracts, etc.) And the whole "We're fining you now so you'll be responsible later" sounds like it was taken out of Minority Report. I'd make a fuss.

Dec 21, 2009, 10:59am Top

This message has been flagged by multiple users and is no longer displayed (show)
hola soy nueva aqui quiero conseguir el libro de daddy de loup durand pero no se como y gratis bajarlo gratis.......

Dec 22, 2009, 7:42pm Top

I wrote one letter, but I will definitely follow up on it. Thanks so much for the suggestions and support! Somehow just knowing that I am not nuts makes me feel better.

Dec 25, 2009, 8:07am Top

266> (JenSay):

I recently encountered an eight year old whose account was blocked because her mom borrowed books on the account when the child was three. I transferred the fines to her mother's card and allowed the child to borrow. Why should she be blocked for something she had no responsibility for? Your library's policy is silly.

Edited: Dec 28, 2009, 1:18pm Top

I'm reading Incident Report by Martha Baille. It's a novel written in the first person voice of a library worker who uses the form of library incident reports, and much of it reminds me of this thread here at LT.

Dec 31, 2009, 4:45pm Top

i know it's just a grammatical thing but i really love/hate it when people come to me and say, "do you know the name of this library?" and i want to be all, "do i know the name of the place i work? yeah, i know that."

Jan 4, 2010, 1:27pm Top

239, we are the only fax game in (a very rural) town, and we charge $1.00 sending/receiving...it always amazes me when people complain loudly and then drive 30 miles to the chain grocery store to fax for $0.99...quite the money-saving trip...

Feb 23, 2010, 1:31pm Top

Can someone please explain to me why I keep on seeing patrons get out their cell phones and take picture of the pictures that they find on My Space? WTF?? Don't the pics come out all grainy and pixelated? Who are they sending these pics too and why?!? I just don't understand....

Jul 28, 2010, 9:00pm Top

@280 I know exactly what you mean! We had a patron that would come in EVERY DAY and take cell phone photos of Myspace and Facebook. I never could figure that one out.

Jul 29, 2010, 2:58pm Top

280, 281

Must be a workaround. ;)

Jul 30, 2010, 5:48pm Top

lol Katya, thanks for sharing! this reminds me of some patrons, but I'm also tempted to do it myself just to bug some friends :P

Edited: Aug 14, 2010, 6:16pm Top

to message #2:(amberamber)I completely understand. We are always having children coming in to use the computers with their parents card. They hand it to me and say can I get on the computer. I ask them if it is there card, they say yes. I look it up on the computer and it is a card for a 56 year old female and the child infront of me is about 13 or 14 year old male. I am like ummm I don't think so. But our library will kick you out if you are found using someone else card on the computers, so it has stopped the kids from using someone elses card.

Aug 14, 2010, 6:35pm Top

In their defense, I think if I was a kid and my parent handed me a card to use and someone asked if it was mine that I might honestly answer yes. I think there's a sense of 'my' that means that you're allowed to use it. Like if someone asked 'Is that you're car blocking my driveway?', you'd probably answer yes even though it was a rental car or you had borrowed it from a friend.

Sep 3, 2010, 1:46pm Top

I completely understand. That is a very good point. We have kids computers for ages babies-12, they don't need a library card to get on. So this helps kids whose parents give them the wrong card and tell them to use that card.

Sep 6, 2010, 3:13am Top

Thats what they call "the reference Interview" !!

Sep 8, 2010, 6:55pm Top

Love it :)

Sep 10, 2010, 5:40am Top

I work in a school library and I get this question at least once a week:

"Have you got any good books, sir?"


My stock response is usually "No! No good books here! I only buy crap books! Sorry!"

Sep 10, 2010, 9:17am Top

Wow, they say "Sir." Maybe kids loose that word when they start college, because I still get the "Have you got any good books," but rarely hear "ma'am."

I hate reader advisory--my definition of a good book is wildly different from most of my patrons. Everyone would leave with a copy of Your Inner Fish if I gave real recommendations. Instead, I have to consider what they like. Where's the fun in that? (Please note the sarcasm in that statement.)

Sep 13, 2010, 4:43pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Sep 14, 2010, 11:07am Top

Re: Book Fair. I know they're only kids, but it's a bit annoying when they come in, obviously having raided their piggy bank and pay for books with hundreds and hundreds of pennies. It would be nice if the parents would at least roll them. And that kid usually has no idea how much he/she has in pennies and we have to find time and space to count it out. Usually when there are dozen others in line. On the other hand, I usually don't run out of pennies for change!

Sep 15, 2010, 9:49am Top

I like the patrons who snap their fingers and one guy even whistled like I was a dog who should come running. Guess how that worked out for him?

I tell patrons that I am glad to assist, but that they are going to do everything. Then I step them through.

Sep 15, 2010, 11:15am Top

Sometimes my patrons tap their finger on the counter like I can't see them standing in front of me.

Sep 15, 2010, 2:44pm Top

Today, a third grader announced "I have new boots!", and promptly swung his leg up onto my circ desk to show me.

Sep 17, 2010, 6:17am Top

I had a historian e-mail me today asking if our research library had a certain image in one of two books in the collection. I told her she had to send me a copy of the image so I could tell what I was looking for in the books. She sends me the image with a caption saying the image is available from my library, so I look in the two books she suggests and it's not there (only a similar image). I look all over the place, send e-mails to colleagues telling them this image must be in the collection. Finally I e-mail the historian back telling her I can't locate the image, is she sure it came from our library. She says no, she's not sure, but she wrote the caption saying the image was available in our library in the hopes that it was correct. Wasted a good hour on that wild goose chase ...

Sep 23, 2010, 7:08pm Top

I tell patrons that I am glad to assist, but that they are going to do everything. Then I step them through.

That doesn't work with Amish patrons, at least the order that lives around here. It's against their beliefs to use any of the electronics . . . though not to have us do it for them, I guess. But they are almost always polite and pleasant, so I don't mind.

Sep 23, 2010, 8:01pm Top

#297: I live in an area where there are many Amish & this group is the type that says that they can't own it, but can use it. It depends upon the local "regulations". Some Amish have cell phones... the prepaid type. Someone else buys it for them & they give them the money for the minutes.

Just depends upon the group.

Sep 23, 2010, 8:14pm Top

>291 lippylibrarian: I never minded that. When I went through my supermarket management internship (I have a very checked work history) when I was an undergrad, our store was in between three senior citizen developments. Our backroom manager (it was a very large store) told me that we should always be very polite as for all we know we're the only contact they get in a day. *shrug* I just keep remembering that.

If it really gets to be an issue, I know one of our libraries here have posted instructions in the cubicles along with pictures of how to do it.

Edited: Sep 24, 2010, 9:58pm Top

Lord, all of these stories are hilarious. And I can relate to many of them. For the most part, most of our patrons are nice, fun, entertaining and basically conversant and often times quite informative. It's isn't all bad. I usually learn something new every day. Yes, sometimes it easy to become agitated, but mainly it is a fun job.

Sep 29, 2010, 6:41am Top

Me: How are you today sir?
Male patron: A lot better now I've seen you *eyebrow wriggle*


Me in my head: I'm not here as eye candy to make your day better sir, back off.

Sep 29, 2010, 11:06am Top

I'm sorry you found that gross. At my age, if I got a little eyebrow wiggle (and no more than that) I would have felt very good!

Oct 5, 2010, 8:26pm Top

I like that, that's really funny! I should try that some time. LOL

Oct 5, 2010, 9:46pm Top

my shortcoming as a patron of libraries was forgetting to stay quiet and doing too much research . Some people take too much time at their areas while others need them .
the world would fall apart without you and there would be less joy if you did not do what you do for your communities .

Oct 6, 2010, 7:19am Top

>301 libtechrambler:

If you object to the way people find you, maybe you should just punch them. Why keep such opinions in your head? But then, I find it difficult to imagine a person not liking a compliment, however insincere (or even sarcastic) it might be.

Oct 6, 2010, 11:01am Top

>305 CliffordDorset:

"I find it difficult to imagine a person not liking a compliment, however insincere (or even sarcastic) it might be."

It sounds like you've never been sexually harassed. Some types of comments (and intended compliments) are inappropriate in the workplace, even if they're meant sincerely.

Oct 6, 2010, 11:17am Top

>301 libtechrambler:

My question would be, was it an old guy or a young guy? For the most part when one of the frequent old guy patrons does the flirty thing I laugh it off (most of 'em are really nice and from the twinkle in their eyes I can see that they're doing it to see how much they can make the librarians blush), but if he's younger than I agree, it can get more creepy than complimentary.

Oct 9, 2010, 2:38am Top

Probably mid fifties at a guess. I've had the older gentlemen do the flirty thing but they're not sleazy about it, just jovial having a joke being friendly, they'll say they feel a lot better now they've seen my happy face and their eyes stay at my eyes. The mid fifties guy was very handsome and I quite like older men (early thirties) but the eyebrow wriggle and eyes travelling down to my chest back up and back down again the whole transaction and the tone of his voice put me off.

Oct 9, 2010, 10:25am Top

Yeah, I get what you're saying, mid fifties can go either way. And just hearing you describe it sorta creeps me out a little.... :)

Nov 1, 2010, 7:10pm Top

Today I was at a chain book store, trying to use a purchase order to buy books for my school (long story---it took 3 clerks and 2 managers, a phone call to the district manager and an hour to get it done). While waiting, a lady came in with the classic, "I need a book" question, didn't know the title. She described it as a Christmas picture book, scratch and sniff. The clerk couldn't come up with the answer. I tried to mind my own business, really I did, but after a little while of watching the clerk Google, I leaned over and said, "That sounds like The Sweet Smell of Christmas" The clerk types that it, shows a picture of the book to the patron, and sure enough that's the one she's looking for. Both clerk and patron were happy, and thanked me for my help.

I finally got my books, and they gave me a chai tea and chocolate cake for my time and trouble. And we all chatted each other up while the manager finally got the books rung up. Not a bad way to spend an hour, but had I known it was going to take so long, I would have done it during school hours instead of on my own time! :)

Nov 12, 2010, 12:14am Top

As an Aussie I find the use fo the term 'mate' by customers really annoying. There is an unwritten etiquette about using this word (best friends & family ONLY). Yet I still get customers of a 'certain' type attempting to imply a bond between us (eeeeewwww!)

Jan 19, 2011, 1:42pm Top

when a reluctant reader comes to me and says "I need a book to read and it's about a dog"...all of us had that one huh lol

Edited: Jan 19, 2011, 11:06pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Feb 21, 2012, 3:41pm Top

1) People who leave messages on the answerphone/messaging service that go something like this - 'Hello, my name is Mr Smith. Can you call me back please?' *hang up* Um....right, so I'm supposed to be able to know which Smith you are, and find you and your phone no. on the system?!!! Or, more often, people who leave a message but don't say what they want. If I call them back but get *their* machine at least if they've told me what they want I can maybe do it for them (i.e. renewing books, booking a computer) or give them exact information about what they need to do. When they don't, I just end up telling them to call us back....and the circle goes on.

2) People who come in at 2 mins to closing or stay until bang on the closing hour and then waltz out. The lack of simple consideration that, you know, library staff may have homes and lives to which they wish to return and don't actually live at the library, is really galling. And I swear some of them do it deliberately, in fact I know one patron does because she has been seen and known to do it in stores and supermarkets and such.

3) Customer: 'I'm 92 years old/disabled/with my children/in a hurry etc etc why should I wait in the queue?'

4) Customers who are elderly or disabled and deliberately play on that to get you to spend excessive amounts of time with them/do everything for them when they could actually do it themselves. I'm happy to give a little bit of extra help to someone who genuinely needs it but some people blatantly play the old person/disabled card to manipulate and pressure you into doing what they want and treating you like their personal assistant.

5) When the computers are broken
It's not our fault that the computers go down, there's nothing we can do to fix it, and there are worse things in the world than being deprived of access to a computer for a day.

6) As people here have already said, the good old 'I'm looking for a book but I don't know the title/author/anything about it' One I had was:
Customer: 'I'm looking for a book'
Me: 'Okay, do you know the title?'
Customer: 'No.'
Me: 'Do you know the author?'
Customer: 'No.'
Me: 'What's it about?'
Customer: 'Well, it has a detective, and he's investigating a murder....'
Me: 'Um, okay, do you know where it's set?'
Customer: 'No, but it has a detective in it....'

They of course have just described the entire crime section.

7) Smelly customers

8) Drunk customers.

9) Customers who encounter problems with a website (for me it always seems to be Hotmail and Facebook)
Customer: 'My Facebook/Hotmail isn't working!!!!'
Me: 'I think it's a problem with the site.'
Customer: 'Well can't you FIX it?'

Well, given that I work in the library and not for Facebook or Hotmail, um, no!

10) Male customer to his girlfriend across the library (very loudly): 'I'M GOING FOR A S**T!!!'

11) Customer: 'I want to use a computer to do my job application. I need some help.'
Me: 'What kind of help?' (thinking he means logging on or finding the site or maybe to look at some books about job applications etc)
Customer: 'Well, I've never used a computer before. At the place where I want to work, the girl said if I came here you could do it for me.' *waves leaflet at me*
It comes out that he literally knows *nothing* about computers, as in, not even how to use a mouse etc. So I ask when the application is due, thinking I can book him into a computer learner's session so he can learn the basics. But no, it has to be in by the end of the week.
Customer: 'But it says in the leaflet you'll sit and do it with me!'
So I look at the leaflet and what it actually says is that he can get free access to the computers for 2 hours and that we can offer *basic* assistance. I then have to explain to him the difference between said basic assistance and what he wants which is us to sit down with him and basically *do* the whole job application *for* him. I explain that we can't spend the amount of time with him that he would need and also that for security reasons we're really not allowed to do that kind of thing for people.
Anyway, we go back and forth over this for a while, and I send him off to a place in town that actually does do that kind of thing.

It just really annoyed me how he'd turned 'you can use the library computers for free and the library staff can offer basic assistance' into 'the library staff will sit down and do the entire thing for you'

12) 'I ordered a book online yesterday, is it in yet?'
Well, no. Why do people not get that holds generally take a little time to come, you know, especially if they're on loan or at another branch....

13) Once when it was snowing really heavily, all the bus services stopped running and the roads were really bad, so city council sent down orders that we could close early so staff could actually get home safely, and one customer complained to me 'oh, you should stay open till later, about 10pm when it snows' (and he was being serious!) Me: 'But they've stopped the buses and the roads are bad and we do need to get home,' Customer (all casual) 'Oh, you'd be all right.' Again, as with the 'last minute' patrons who come in right at closing time or take their time leaving, it's the absolute lack of consideration that we might have lives outside of them and the library.

14) And as someone else here already said, when people just come up and go 'COMPUTER!!!!' or 'PRINT OUTS!!!!'

15) Customer: 'Can I book a computer please?'
Me: 'Yes, certainly,' *checks system* 'Oh, I'm sorry, but there isn't on free for another hour.'
Customer: 'What if I try for less time?'
Me *checks* 'No, I'm sorry, even for the minimum time, there are no computers free anywhere in the library.'
Customer: 'Well, what about downstairs/upstairs then?'
Me: 'No, I'm sorry, there are no computers anywhere for an hour. If you like, you can keep an eye on them and see if anyone finishes their session early.'
Customer: 'But can't I book one for sooner than an hour?'

AGGGGH. It's like they really don't listen, or they think if they ask enough times, I'll suddenly go 'Oh right, I was lying, there's actually a computer free right now!' I mean, if I tell them there aren't any computers for an hour, there honestly really *aren't* any. And no, I can not magic one up for them, either.

Edited: Feb 21, 2012, 6:16pm Top

>314 crazylibrarygirl:, I have to say, whoa....

Also, your #12, I've actually ordered a book via ILL (although it was consortium ILL not Statewide ILL so that's faster) and it came literally the next day, so... I've seen it happen... :)

and #15... but we're librarians. A lot of people do think that we have magic that they don't... :) (After all, if someone says 'oh, I'm looking for the book, the mystery, with the silver cover' and I say 'oh, you mean 10th Anniversary by James Patterson' (true story)... that's sorta magic... :D

But, on the whole, I feel your pain.

Feb 22, 2012, 4:05pm Top

My daughter works at the front desk of a hotel and I work in a high school library and have worked in other service jobs in the past. We swap stories all the time about how silly or obnoxious people can be with their requests. I don't think this sort of think is found only in one occupation. Having been on this side of the desk, hopefully makes me a better customer since I am aware that the person behind the desk is tired/underpaid/overworked/undertrained/overqualified/bored/pressured/etc. I just try to remember that if these people come in knowing all the answers, I wouldn't have a job, now would I?

Feb 22, 2012, 4:20pm Top

314-crazylibrarygirl- I think you need a vacation you need to let loose and not let these things build up!

And I have to agree with DanieXJ I can actually usually deduce what book they are talking about by cover or even a bad description and people are always amazed I always say I've got skills it's good PR when they go tells their friends about it too!

Feb 22, 2012, 9:41pm Top

A friend who works at another library tells me that once she had a patron refuse to get off the computer when it was time for closing. She finally had to go back and SHUT DOWN THE INTERNET CONNECTION to get the person to leave (in a huff).

I think I've encountered all the patrons you describe at one time or another. Fortunately, the worst of the offenders are not too common where I work. Some of them I don't mind -- the ones who just say "computer," for instance. (At least I know what they want.) And I don't mind the people asking about the books ordered yesterday, if they happen to be in the library, as long as they don't expect/demand the books to be in already.

And I really have found books for people with really minimal information. It helps if it's a regular patron whose reading habits are familiar to me, or if it's a really familiar book to me.

Right now, we're getting blasted by some folks because the state tax forms haven't come in, through no fault of our own -- though most folks are nice about it.

Feb 23, 2012, 3:49pm Top

There were times I had to shut the lights in the computer room, and unplug the computers (well, I shut off the power strip) to get patrons to leave at closing.

Feb 27, 2012, 3:12am Top

I hate it so much when they tip-toe 5 minutes before the end of my working hours and closing time then spread their things on the table and leave the place to chit-chat in the hallways. Goodluck finding who it is.

Edited: Feb 27, 2012, 3:14am Top

Another thing I encounter A LOT is:

Student: "Hi, I'm looking for that red book"
Me: "Which red book? What's the title?"
Student: "I don't know, the book ----- borrowed, you know her?"
Me: "No I don't remember who ----- is. What's the book about?"
Student: "I don't know, but she says it's really good for our class"

Edited: Feb 27, 2012, 3:16am Top

Another that I encountered more than a couple of times:

"Do you write assignments?"

Feb 27, 2012, 5:49pm Top

Snodgrass, I assume your next question is like 'uh, which class'.... :) Then you have a topic right? :)

Tymfos, ugh... don't get me started on taxes. Estimated and Income, and the fact that state and federal (though federals are better about getting us print copies) governments just want everyone, everyone, everyone to do it online, and so the state just makes it a pain in the butt to get the forms.

I feel like I'm always saying 'we'll get more soon, would you like me to print them out, 20 cents a page'... most often they decline, and come back... but, at least it's still Feb, and not April... so...

Feb 28, 2012, 10:55am Top

Every year, right before mid-terms and again befpre finals, we have students coming in asking to see their course reserve books not knowing the course number or the professor's name.

Feb 28, 2012, 12:19pm Top

Recently the entitlement attitude of my students has been irking me. This is a library - which means everything in here is a shared resource. If you want there to be a copy of a certain book that is available just to you whenever you need it - buy your own. The ones we have here are for everyone to share.

Same thing with an acquaintance I was talking to regarding the computers at the public library. He was job searching and told me about how difficult it was to do without a computer. I excitedly told him that he could go to the public library and use the computers there. He replied "Yeah, that's not as easy as you think. They only let you use them for half an hour at a time." Well, yeah. The computers belong to everyone, so everyone needs a turn. Again, if you want unlimited use of a computer, buy your own.

The library is not here especially for YOU, it is here for everyone. Sometimes that means waiting. If you want to use something for free, it's not necessarily going to be on your terms.

Feb 28, 2012, 10:27pm Top

325> That seems rather unsympathetic. Your friend told you that job searching was hard without a computer, you informed him of a way he could kinda share a computer with a lot of other people, he complained that isn't good enough, so your take is that if he wants his own computer he should buy one. Isn't that what he was saying in the first place?

Edited: Feb 28, 2012, 10:43pm Top

326 That seems rather unsympathetic.

Agree. I mean, it's not like he was yelling at the library workers when they made him leave the computer (or at least, that's not indicated). He was just commenting to a friend (?) how hard it is to job hunt without having (his own) computer.

You can't get much job hunting done in half an hour. You may not even get through one detailed online application! And maybe he could afford a computer . . . if he had a job.

I like that our library gives priority to people doing job searches, over those engaging in recreational use of computers. We have one computer restricted to to job searches ONLY. (It was provided by a state agency for that purpose.)

The folks who aggravate me are the people who don't want to stop playing computer games when their time is up so someone looking for a job can have a turn.

Feb 28, 2012, 10:47pm Top

Its easy to assume that everyone could afford a computer ownership is so commonplace these days it is surprising when someone tells you they don't have one at home.
Job hunting can be soul destroying particularly when there isn't much about to suit your qualifications and job searching can be so time consuming its not the sort of thing given a choice you would want to do in a public space like a library I would have thought.
Perhaps I have the wrong idea but I didn't get that he was saying he should have priority over other people only that it was a frustrating exercise.
(327) I think that's marvellous to have a dedicated computer but I'm guessing at times you could triple the number and it still wouldn't meet demand.

This strikes me as a very 1st world conversation - we don't know how lucky we are.

Feb 28, 2012, 10:52pm Top

This strikes me as a very 1st world conversation - we don't know how lucky we are.


Feb 29, 2012, 11:14am Top

We have many students who rely on the library computers to complete their assignments. Technically the library is not open after school (I work in the room next door instead) however I allow students in if they are doing school work and not just hanging out. I have little patience for teachers who are shocked that not everyone has a computer and Internet access. Some of our students rely on school lunch as their main meal, take public transportation, and live on food stamps. How is their family supposed to afford a computer?

Edited: Feb 29, 2012, 9:12pm Top

I think ReadHanded was talking about assuming something is due you, not that every library patron who wants to use a computer is a PITA. S/He has no control over what his/her public library dictates. And as a public librarian, I see plenty of people with phones I can't afford, when they could have purchased a netbook and a simpler phone. Many people have different priorities, to say the least. If I were taking an online course, as one of our ruder, entitled patrons is, I would assume I need to have my own computer and internet access. We can't please everyone, though I know deep in my bones, we would love to do just that.

Mar 1, 2012, 7:17am Top

We can't please everyone, though I know deep in my bones, we would love to do just that.

Isn't that the truth! I try so hard to keep all our patrons happy, but there's no pleasing some people -- and when two or more people want the same thing at the same time, there's bound to be someone unhappy.

Mar 1, 2012, 9:01am Top

I was not at all saying that I think everyone can afford their own computer. Not at all. I'm sorry that I made it seem that way. My point was basically that "beggars can't be choosers" if you'll excuse the pretty un-P.C. old saying. While of course the public library would love to have enough computers to accommodate everyone who needs or wants to use one, that is absolutely unrealistic.

My point is that people who are using shared resources need to understand that they are shared resources and not get upset when they have to share them with others.

This particular gentleman to whom I was referring could absolutely have afforded his own computer, but his wife doesn't allow computers in the house because she feels they are "too much temptation" for him. He shared this information with the hiring manager at the university where I work after I told him of a job opening there and vouched for him to the HR department.

I apologize for thinking that this was a forum to express my frustration. The name of the discussion group must have thrown me off.

Mar 1, 2012, 12:20pm Top

Mar 1, 2012, 3:30pm Top

Sorry, I just didn't get the sense from your post that he was complaining about the 1/2 hour limit, just noting that the limit was there and made job-hunting more difficult. I'm willing to sympathize with patrons who are inconvenienced by time limits, as long as they don't act nasty or like they think they're "owed" more time.

Your further info puts things in a bit different light, though. ;)

Mar 1, 2012, 6:26pm Top

I understand now what you were getting at. Yes went off track a bit sorry.

Mar 2, 2012, 10:19am Top

I just had a patron go off in a huff to use a copier on another floor because, while I was willing to show her how to use the copier and walk her through how it works, I was not willing to just make the copies for her.

Edited: Mar 2, 2012, 4:17pm Top

Oh, right. You forgot you were supposed to be her personal assistant, huh? ;)

Of course, our library's "smart" copier is so complicated and uncooperative, we make the copies ourselves to avoid paper & ink waste. (And some of the time, we can't get it to work right, either.)

Mar 2, 2012, 9:48pm Top

337, I actually prefer to be "their assistant" in this regard than find myself constantly fixing the copier. The one I have in the library is an old model and a few times I came out of my office to find a JUNGLE of partially printed A4 paper scattered everywhere, not to mention the copier stops working due to constant paper jams. I have no idea what they do exactly to it but it really gets me angry how none of them come to me and tell me something happened. I had to contact the maintenance department more than a few times to fix this.

Solution? I do the photocopying from now on.

Saves me the maintenance money too.

Mar 2, 2012, 9:54pm Top

#338/339 -- Our copier is actually fairly easy to deal with (especially if you're not trying to make it do any fancy tricks -- and this patron just needed a few plain black-and-white copies). I have done copying for people who are truly helpless in the face of technology and/or are trying to do things that are a little more advanced, but this person was just looking for a "personal assistant," and was not particularly polite about it.

Mar 2, 2012, 10:14pm Top

Glad we worked all that out! Typist, copyist, babysitter, I have been assumed to be all of these at one time or another. But then someone will want RA and I get happy again.

Mar 4, 2012, 3:00pm Top

The photocopiers bit reminded me of this and I just had to vent. ;)

I had a patron come in the other day and ask if she could use our photocopier. I gave my usual "it's over there, 25 cents per page" spiel. She took two steps, stopped, turned back, asked "HOW much?" I again said 25 cents/page, and she slumped forward and got this really shocked look on her face. Lady, it isn't my fault that we charge that much, and I'd appreciate not getting attitude about it when I'm just giving you information!

(She later came back to me to point out that she was carrying a bunch of paper on her way in to the copy room so that I wouldn't charge her for those papers as copies, and it took saying "you put your money into the coin box, I don't take any money at all" three times for it to get through her head.)

Luckily most people are a lot nicer/more with it!

Mar 4, 2012, 8:11pm Top

foggiedown, I know what you mean :/

Mar 5, 2012, 10:33am Top

Patron: I need a book that fits XYZ criteria.
Me: Ok, this one's really popular, how about it?
Patron: Nah.
Me: There's also this one, and that one...
Patron: Nah, nah.
Me: I can show you a list of books that fit that criteria, here it is.
Patron: I don't like any of these.
Me: Well, that's about all we have.
Patron: *SIGH* Can't you find ANYTHING?

Mar 5, 2012, 3:08pm Top

weener-- I get that exact same patron at MY library! Frequently! Complete with frustrated sigh and accusations of unhelpfulness!

Mar 6, 2012, 5:52pm Top

Fun with staplers!

Scenario 1. Students picks up one stapler. It doesn't work. Tries second stapler again with no results. Uses third stapler which works. Leaves without mentioning the staplers are out of staples. (I can't say how many times this happened before I noticed migration pattern of students looking for functioning stapler.)

Scenario 2. Student picks up stapler. It fails to staple. "This stapler is broken!" Student slams stapler on desk in front of me. I open it, find it empty, refill it and hand it to student. "Fixed!"

Scenario 3. Student picks up stapler and attempts to staple papers. That doesn't work. Puts it down on the desk and tries again. Still doesn't work. Looks at me with big puppy eyes for help.

Scenario 4. Paper lining bulletin boards outside blowing free in brisk breeze. I grab the my favorite stapler. Once outside I find the stapler is out of staples. Argh!

I won't even go into the fun I have with the electric stapler in the copy room!

Mar 6, 2012, 7:33pm Top

>346 mamzel:, ooh, it doesn't involve blood and gore does it?? ;)

Mar 8, 2012, 11:26pm Top

>342 fleurdiabolique: I had a similar scenario happen the other day, but with the fax.

I had a patron come to the circ desk where I was checking in returns, dump off a huge amount of paperbacks and then have this exchange:

Patron "I need to use the actual library and not just check out books today."
Me "...Okay"
Patron "I need to send a fax."
Me "All right, it's a dollar a page."
Patron "A dollar a page!?!"
Me "Yes."
Patron *stare open eyed intently at me as if that will make the price go down*
Patron *still staring* "A dollar?"
Me *still painfully smiling* "Yes."
Patron *still staring* "Well how much to make copies?" walks off muttering about a dollar a page

The intent staring went on for a good thirty seconds with me just smiling at the patron because I didn't want to make snarky comments about how much cheaper it is to send a fax with us then anywhere else nearby and thereby further incense the incredulousness of the patron and thereby have to endure more staring.

Mar 8, 2012, 11:35pm Top

348 We get that sort of thing so much, we've actually priced the various fax options in our town, so we can give patrons information on the options for faxing within our town. (We are, of course, the least expensive.)

Mar 9, 2012, 12:22am Top

Ashley, sorry for being a pedant, but "pornagraphic" ???..

Mar 9, 2012, 10:34am Top

^349, that's a wise way to go about it -- just have a list of prices for Kinko's and whatever other copy shops have fax services.

Sometimes I think the patrons believe that libraries are given the paper, toner, printers, fax machines, and repair services for that equipement for free.

Mar 15, 2012, 7:25pm Top

Today - "I need a book about, like, history or science, or something." Way to be incredibly vague ma'am. :(

Mar 27, 2012, 4:59pm Top

Can I use the library phone to call long distance?...
Why? ...
because long distance costs money..
Yes seriously

Actual conversation I just had with a young patron!

Edited: Mar 29, 2012, 5:36am Top

353 This isn't so outrageous. These days, many people and businesses (including the library where I work) have flat-rate plans for unlimited long-distance service -- often it's cheaper than paying for necessary calls on an individual basis. I'm not surprised that your young patron (who probably doesn't remember the days when call-by-call long distance charges were the norm) would find that idea strange.

For our library, the issue becomes simply one of tying up the phone lines. We've let patrons use the phone for a "quick call" which went on and on, with them refusing to surrender the phone so we could answer the other phone line. Grrrr!

Mar 30, 2012, 2:53pm Top

I worked a long time ago in a library when I was in college. At this extension of the university of Alabama, they were just getting started and building a new library. and with a large grant, I was hired to work in purchasing. If we didn't have it, it was an automatic buy if the request came in from any one at the university.
It was amazing how many students got their orders in and could avoid buying a book for classes.

Apr 2, 2012, 11:05pm Top

The other day a child was zipping around the kids section and I said "walk please." His mom looks at me and says "oh, it's Ok, I gave him permission."

Apr 2, 2012, 11:13pm Top

#356 -- I'd have been tempted to come back at her with, "Oh, but I did not." I'm always amazed at the number of parents who fail to see the fundamental differences between a library children's room and a playground at a public park, and are astonished and offended when their children are asked to walk, not run, and to speak in "indoor voices." I know this makes me sound like a curmudgeon, but really, I'm not asking for no voice above a whisper and children who behave like perfect miniature adults, just kids who realize that they can't run and scream in the library.

Apr 3, 2012, 10:24am Top

356 I would not have hesitated to come back with, "Sorry, but it's against the rules here." I'm supposed to be as polite as possible to patrons, but I'm also required to enforce library policy.

Apr 4, 2012, 9:43am Top

See, this is one reason why I like the school library sooooo much better than public...when I tell a kid to stop running, he stops running. If a kid misbehaves, is too loud, or just generally getting on my last nerve, I can ask him/her to leave. Also, I rarely have to deal with parents. :)

Apr 4, 2012, 11:30am Top

I have tried to introduce a little etiquette in my library by having the teens change their requests from "I want..." or "I need..." to "May I please..." or "Could you please...".

Apr 4, 2012, 2:53pm Top

Whoa >360 mamzel:, that's guts... kudos!!

Apr 4, 2012, 5:46pm Top

Case in point - a young man came in handed me his ID and just looked at me. I remembered him from lunch when he checked out three books and suspected he wasn't there to check out more. After an awkward pause he said, "I need my password." So I'm a mind reader, too? Argh! *deep breaths*

Apr 4, 2012, 6:29pm Top

Mind reader, psychologist, day care provider, mother/father, personal assistant, tech guru, toilet handle jiggler, tax preparer, oh yes and... librarian.

Apr 4, 2012, 8:55pm Top

363 How true!

Apr 7, 2012, 12:58pm Top

At my library we have computers in 3 major sections: kids (for ages 0-12) Teens (13-18) and Adult (which can be used by anyone over 16) parents with kids are allowed to use a child computer because no one under 10 can be left alone in kids and children are not allowed on the upstairs adult stations.
Yesterday I had a mom in the department who needed a computer for herself and one for her (3-year old) child. (She is one of my regular nightmare patrons whose children always scream and climb furniture.) It's spring break, so we were PACKED and there was a 30 minute wait. When I told her this she got very upset and said "well, I'm not waiting 30 minutes, I'll just take him upstairs with me."
I told her the rule was, children could not be on the computers upstairs. She then insisted that I either get her on a computer immediately, or let her leave her child down here unattented. I (VERY calmly) explained I could NOT kick another patron off their computer just to let HER on a computer OR allow her to leave her child here unattended. So she stormed off and went upstairs with the kid. She returned almost immediately and said "well, they kicked me out from up there and they wouldn't give my son a computer, so I guess I'll wait.
I deliberately fiddled with the reservation system to force her to wait 45 minutes, and I don't feel at ALL bad about it.

Apr 7, 2012, 1:01pm Top

Some people just think that the whole world should revolve around them and their wants. :(

Apr 8, 2012, 4:01am Top

The nerve of them! It revolves around ME!

Edited: Apr 8, 2012, 4:32am Top

Dear Group,

I am NOT a librarian (though I was once in love with one :) does that count?)

What I don't understand is this stoicism towards Rude, Crude and Uncouth Patrons.

I guess that by now I would have "blown my top" or
have become verrry sarcastic (and for those who don't recognise sarcasm, I would just become INSULTING)

Still recon. sarcasm is the way to go.

Seriously though, how do you swallow your tongue?

ETA. And why?
And please don't just say $$$.

Apr 8, 2012, 11:51am Top

Well, guido47, it is complex. It could involve a long discussion of public spaces, or public services, and the tax money that supports them. Every librarian is different, but most of us hate confrontation and have been through some variation of "How to Defuse/Deal with Angry/Difficult People" in continuing ed. Those people are in the minority for most library staff, hopefully. What really wears me out are the same difficult people that show up every single day.

The ethical demands of providing equal access to all is at the heart of taking so much abuse. The library is unique in that no other public space is quite so public, except for police stations and hospitals. And no one wants to go to either of those places, do they?

Public access computers seem to be at the heart of our patron problems, too. Add in a feeling of entitlement to services RIGHT NOW and you have a powder keg waiting for a spark. Something about access to the internet makes some people who might be difficult turn into nightmares. I miss civility.

It is most definitely not money for most of us.

Apr 8, 2012, 5:29pm Top

Thanks, #369 (and you guys/gals should consider splitting this thread)

If It's any consolation, I have dealt with the public, 3 times, in my life. As a "tram conductor/ticket collector" at age 18.
As a Taxi driver for a whole year (about age 22, after Army) and as a paid Charity Collector for 4 years (age 55+)

Each time I swore I would never deal with the Public again...

After my last stint, I remember we came up with a rule of thumb which seems reasonable.

95% of the Public is "nice".
3% are having a "hard" day.
2% are Arseholes

How does this "metric" measure up to your experiences?


Apr 9, 2012, 11:42am Top

That third group is definitely in the minority and it's easier to take stuff from them after dealing with pleasent polite people. I try to remember it's them, not me and when I am out and about I try to treat people the way I like to be treated!

Apr 9, 2012, 3:37pm Top

#368 - for my part I simply refuse to let the people who behave so disrespectfully sour me to the fact that about 90% - 95% of patrons are great. I do love what I do, and thankfully those few bad apples are few and far between so I use my patience and move on to the next one who will undoubtedly make my day brighter.

Apr 10, 2012, 10:41pm Top

They must be in there every day too ... Ha ha. I can only handle this about every second day - the rest of the time I work in a primary school library..... where the clientele can be told to be quiet, behave themselves and listen up and learn- and are quite delightful except when you ask them where their overdue book is and their eyes glaze over and then the light goes on - oh it must be at home. Yes, so how are you going to get another book if you don't bring the other one back? Juniors are only allowed one at a time. Apart from getting their homework back to school it must be the first time in their lives they are having to be in charge of looking after a borrowed object. Amazingly 3/4 of each class and their parents do manage to return a book or two every week.

Apr 15, 2012, 6:57pm Top

#368 - And some of us are in jobs where we don't work directly with the public, so we wonder how the public service librarians do it, too!

Apr 16, 2012, 4:37pm Top

> 374 We're saints.......... really......... :)

Apr 16, 2012, 5:25pm Top

I love that patrons donate books but if you are going to donate over 30 books please put them in a box and bring them in when I am open Do Not put them in the book drop over the weekend so I come in and find books scattered all over my floor!Must have taken her awhile to stand outside and put them all through the book drop!!

Apr 19, 2012, 3:45pm Top

At our library, in order to use a computer you have to put in your library card number and a 4 digt pin, which for most people defaults to their birth year. EVERY DAY I have at least one or two patrons who come up to me and say "I can't remember my pin." When I tell them "it's the year you were born," the inevitably reply with something like, but I already tried 10/30 and it still doesn't work!" I don't know what it is about birth YEAR versus birth DATE that confuses them so much!

Apr 25, 2012, 10:33pm Top

@ #377- This is the story of my life! I can tell them 10 times that it is their birth YEAR and they still keep putting the date. Ugh. People clearly hear what they want to hear.

Apr 25, 2012, 10:47pm Top

I have had 3 patrons in the last 24 hours that swear up and down that they returned books weeks ago and called myself and my pages incompetent. I had to (literally) beg them to take a second look around the house and in their cars. They all grumbled but agreed to do it. In the meantime, I sent out emails to all the other branches in my district to check their shelves for the items. Surprise, surprise, no one found the books. Magically, all 3 books showed up in my book drop later in the day. Imagine that!

Edited: Apr 26, 2012, 3:05am Top

#329 Like magic, huh? Funny, I've had similar experiences . . . ;)

Apr 26, 2012, 11:00am Top

#368, I put up with it because I wanted to keep my job. It wasn't the money. I didn't get paid nearly enough, but I did like my job and want to keep it. I didn't want to deal with the higher ups (supervisors, human resource dept) if a patron complained. So maybe fear was my motivation. ;) But I did love helping people and most people made it worth the effort to put up with the few problem patrons. But it was better to end the day with a pleasant experience than an unpleasant one. I always preferred to get the nasty encounters out of the way and end on an up note. My favorite was the man who came over to me a week after I helped him to tell me that book I located for him at the research library was just the thing he needed! That gave me warm fuzzies for a couple of days. :)

I'd add a category to your list, though I'm not sure of the percentage: People who are just off their rockers. They can't help being difficult to deal with, from the woman who insisted the copy machine was sending copies of documents to the government to the woman who had loud arguments with her invisible "friend" and once threw a cup of urine at the librarian at the reference desk (which got her banned from the library).

I majored in psych before deciding to become a librarian, so maybe that helped me cope. After 30 years of working with a diverse public, I retired at the end of last year, not because of the public, but because I had enough of the bureaucracy I worked for.

#375: :)

Apr 28, 2012, 12:24am Top

My favorite was the man who came over to me a week after I helped him to tell me that book I located for him at the research library was just the thing he needed! That gave me warm fuzzies for a couple of days. :)

My absolute favorite part of the job is when I can help someone find exactly what they are looking for!

May 1, 2012, 2:16pm Top

End of the academic year and students and faculty are returning books in droves. I can handle that. However, what drives me batty are those inconsiderate chuckleheads who do not remove their plethora of bookmarks. Especially those who use Post-it notes. Those little suckers can often cause damage to the book after being stuck fast to a page for several months.

Shouldn't this be a flogging offense?

May 1, 2012, 3:08pm Top

Oh my goodness I don't know how I was talked into giving one on one computer lessons to little old ladies...I really don't have the patience for it!

May 1, 2012, 5:08pm Top

Maybe you could try and remember that some day, you too, will be like they are now - eager to learn something new and needing help from a young whipper snapper!

May 1, 2012, 5:29pm Top

HaHa well I'm no young whipper snapper....

May 1, 2012, 10:03pm Top

>382 tymfos:

One day in the children's room I helped a little girl and her mom find books about mermaids. A couple weeks later they actually tracked me down on a different floor to give me a craft the girl had made to thank me for my help! It was so sweet and made me feel great. I hung it up at my desk.

May 2, 2012, 4:04pm Top

I love when patrons ask us to help them find a book under these circumstances

Librarian: Do you know the title of the book?
Patron: No.
Librarian: Do you know the author?
Patron: No.
Librarian: Can you tell me anything about the book?
Patron: It has a blue cover with a girl on it with blonde hair.

Edited: May 2, 2012, 5:22pm Top

>RE:384-385- Oh I am being nice to them its just afterwards I want to scream...Just thought I'd clarify that yes my patience by the end is very short but I don't let them see it...When we first started the classes I wasn't supposed to teach them...I had 2 today and could use a drink..

BTW: I am a single librarian library so as I am teaching these lessons I am also still checking out books, sending faxes, setting other people up on the public computers, finding books, answering phone etc...

Edited: May 2, 2012, 7:18pm Top

>389 susiesharp:

I am in the position to teach those classes myself so I wouldn't feel the need to remind you that you will be old yourself one day because the fact of the matter is it is difficult and exhausting work. There is a strange eagerness the older folks exhibit. They sure vent, and the class can become a form of therapy if you are not careful which won't accomplish what you set out to do. The array of questions you get is mind-boggling. Many don't know basic concepts of logging into an email from a different computer. And you have no standard methaphors really, to describe what you are doing on the screen, or why you are doing it. And they will question why you would do somethng at every step of the way. Many loving sons and daughters bought their parents an iPads or Kindle Fire (great price point because it's just a little over the standard amount and shows how much you love them), but it seems not many showed them how to use it, or if they did, weren't willing to do a comprehensive job. Then passwords...the fact the screens are all so small...how do you explain pop-ups? Closing the pop-ups? The pop-ups that move the whole page downwards? The ones that flash onto the middle of the screens. The ones sitting on the side of the page. Address bars? Search boxes? Spam. Desktop, minimizing, restoring. When you right click opposed to left click. Arrows that turn into pointy fingers, crosses and other things...Believe me, I feel your pain.

The thing that gets me, is the Gates Foundation is happy to give the computers away, but what is needed is funding toward people who do the hands on teaching. But equipment trumps everything and it's easier to provide that. It's basically branding of the Nascar variety.

May 2, 2012, 6:51pm Top

> 390-Exactly!...
I have also had to teach many how to use their e-readers that their children bought them!I had one lady come in with her Nook touch and ask me to get rid of the ugly people that were staring at her everytime she turned it on and I was like Huh??!! so I turned it on and her wallpaper/screensaver was The Bronte sisters HaHa so I switched it to a pretty waterfall for her and she left very happy...I waited till she left to guffaw!

Edited: May 2, 2012, 7:20pm Top

Yes, and the fact we really don't have the ereaders in the library to pratice on, each of the different ones, etc. makes it that much harder. I've had an android tablet for about 3 years and just got a nook simple. But to think we have to problem-solve these things on the spot, without any prior exposure is crazy. I only know about IOS from my girlfriend's iphone, my salary doesn't quite enable me be in the smart phone set. But I think we are, if anything, performers. There's no way to show everything. How could you? But if they come in, you are able to do what they ask, right there for them, sort of show how to do it, they go away inspired and may continue on that journey. It's tough though. You have to play with every gadget you see. Staples usually has a Kindle out on display. You figure everybody updates their OS and interfaces every two years now, so it's always in flux and nothing is standardized...

But yes, the environmental photography is much nicer, subtler than that tired old wood-cut authors series!

May 2, 2012, 9:02pm Top

Very true I have a Nook color and even the Nook touch was very different..I haven't had to deal with kindle too much but we are raising money right now to get Overdrive so I will have to figure those out soon!

Edited: May 2, 2012, 9:58pm Top

Overdrive tries, but it's still tough once patrons come in, or worse yet, call on the phone. ADE just complicates things. The ipad user on overdrive is sometimes rewarding because you can actually get them all set up and download a book (assuming one is avaliable, they have their apple ID, their correct email information, your wireless is working, that is unless it's the Kindle version for the Kindle app, then they need to use a USB cord...) right then and there. For the regular Kindle you can download Overdrive books from any PC because you bypass ADE, which must be tied to a person's personal PC. So you can set the Kindle people up on a public computer. Otherwise, they have to follow the directions and do it at home. Which is when you get the calls. But I think once everyone gets going it's going to be all about getting more licences for books...

May 2, 2012, 11:17pm Top

Oh yes for sure I'm hoping my patrons will understand that some books aren't going to be available, thats going to be the hardest thing to explain. I'm hoping that with a few classes they will get the major gist of how it works so the questions will be minimal but I've got 2 months to figure out how to teach the classes!

Edited: May 3, 2012, 12:03pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Edited: May 3, 2012, 12:05pm Top

For my dad's 81st birthday last February I gave him a Kindle. It took a few phone calls but he finally got it up and running. Last Tuesday I found two missed calls from him, the last quite late for his time zone. I called him back worried about why he had called.
"Hi, Dad, it's me. What's up?"
"That Kindle..."
"12 books so far"
I cracked up laughing.

The point of my story is to show how important a little help and instruction on technology can be to an older person. It may add so much to their quality of life and keep them younger and connected to the world.

Thanks to all of you who teach them how to use computers. May you continue to have the patience and sense of humor to help them.

Somedays I think I might prefer teaching older people who know how much they don't know than teenagers who think they already know everything!

Sorry for the double posting.

May 3, 2012, 1:08pm Top

>#397- My mother & I got our nook colors the same day and I too have gotten odd phone calls it's funny though the nook was easier for her to figure out than FB I was trying to explain to her over the phone how to change her cover image and finally ended up saying give me your password log out and I'll just do it. But thats easier to do with your own parents!

Edited: May 7, 2012, 2:51pm Top

This message has been deleted by its author.

Jun 18, 2012, 7:51pm Top

A few months ago our main library underwent a major renovation (yay!) and a patron came in, following some workmen and asked to use a computer. There was no furniture in the library, nothing, no desks, bookshelves, nothing. I don't know where he expected me to magically conjure this computer up from.

Jun 19, 2012, 12:44pm Top

Pare their nails.

Jun 19, 2012, 1:31pm Top

I had a kindergartner during storytime who was (I think) paring her toenails with her teeth. While I admired her flexibility, I made her stop.

Jun 19, 2012, 3:55pm Top

I see people clipping their nails anywhere and everywhere, so it's not just the library. Used to see it a lot on the subway.

Jun 19, 2012, 6:25pm Top

My ex-boss used to do it during business meetings. Disgusting.

Jun 20, 2012, 9:44pm Top

There's a regular patron at my library who calls constantly to discuss which books we think she should put on hold. That would be fine if she wouldn't give a synopsis of every book she's read lately! She's constantly trying to draw us into lengthy conversations. I was on the phone with her for almost 15 minutes this morning. She's a legend among the staff at this point.

Jun 20, 2012, 10:02pm Top

#405 - Sounds like this woman needs to find herself a book club or two.

Jun 20, 2012, 11:26pm Top

#405: sign her up for LT

Edited: Jun 21, 2012, 12:01am Top

May I suggest to TPTB, they split this thread.

Since I am not a librarian, this would be presumptious of me :-)


Sep 18, 2013, 2:34pm Top

I was an unintentionally bothersome patron, (I will no longer patronize the library), and I have a suggestion for you: start private libraries. I am quite serious. Keep the dumpsters free of all the books deemed unnecessary through library culling. Encourage your new members to bring in their books. You can then control the entire atmosphere of your library.

i ran across an anti-patron rant that had been voted a Best of Craigslist. How I wish I could contact this person to support this one section of her rant:

"To my co-workers: Stop bitching because I have two desks and you have to share one with two other people. There are a couple of reasons for this. I don’t really have two desks; one of these so-called desks is the reference desk so I guess by that logic you have two desks too. One of them is the circulation desk. Enjoy your newfound space. Second, I’m a full time employee, so I am entitled to a private workspace (especially in light of the fact that you are never here at the same time as the people you share with). It’s in my contract, you can check. Third, I outrank you. I have a master’s degree to your GED. Yes, I’m 30 years younger than you are, but we all make choices in life. It wasn’t my choice to get knocked up in 1968 and then take a low paying job at the library that you have kept for the past 37 years. We all make choices and I guess you made yours. Also, I have way more work and way more responsibility than you. You might think that checking books in and out and getting them to the right place on the shelf is hard work, but guess what it’s not. If you want to do the budget sometime, or deal with the patrons who don’t want to pay their fines, then we can talk about a challenge. Until then, shut up and do your damn job!"

Sep 18, 2013, 4:10pm Top

That isn't an anti-patron rant.

Sep 18, 2013, 6:11pm Top

>409 NotBabs:, I don't get it... plus, just an FYI this topic has been continued (for quite a while) in Part 2....

Sep 18, 2013, 6:20pm Top

That is a anti-coworker rant that doesn't have anything to do with patrons.

Sep 18, 2013, 6:41pm Top

That person just joined and has no books listed.

Apr 29, 2015, 8:29pm Top

Just saw this topic- which seems to be inactive for a while.. Well, just in case anyone is still reading it I'd like to mention a couple of my favourite rants about patrons. As a worker in a public library in Sydney for many years I have seen and heard patrons doing all sorts of weird things:
- Cutting their toenails in the Reference library
- Actually shouting into their mobile phone, in conversation while using the public computers
- Fighting (verbally) with other patrons over whether they should be allowed to use more than one newspaper at a time
- Using a razor to cut articles and pictures out of magazines, which they could borrow
- Doing the same with very expensive art books (which they can't borrow)
- Taking newspapers into the toilet (to read I presume - we provide toilet paper)

The list goes on - and is typical the world over I'm sure.
Apart from a small minority however, I found most library patrons to be polite, respectful of library staff and materials and generally a pleasure to serve.

Apr 30, 2015, 8:51pm Top

Note that this topic has been continued on another thread, with the continuation link provided below. :)

Jun 17, 2015, 4:23am Top

After a few rough days at work noellib you really made me laugh. Thank you.

I'm yet to have someone cutting their toenails, but I live in hope... ;-)

Aug 30, 2016, 4:32pm Top

OMG I would love it if my director did that!

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