Monday, February 19, 2018

On the way...

I haven't updated in a while because a typical shift lately has been like today's.

Arrive at noon, see that our flag is flying full-staff despite a presidential proclamation to lower flags to honor the victims of the latest school shooting. Lower flag. Answer 1 or 2 emails, delete 10 other emails from my boss that just say "thank you for keeping me informed"--she obviously read some management advice book that tells you to acknowledge every single email your employees send you, but I don't think it's helping. Interrupted by a coworker--what do I do if someone wants to sign up for GED class, again? Grab magazines to use in my English Conversation Practice program, then do that program, which is the highlight of my day.

Sidetracked on my way back to the staff area to translate for a non-Spanish-speaking colleague. In the back, prep notes for the teachers who teach the Saturday English classes. Interrupted twice to troubleshoot computer problems for a woman who is applying for a work at the library. Wonder if I should tell her that she is wasting her time because they won't hire someone without more computer skills, chicken out as usual.

On the way back from helping her, another patron calls me over--"this won't print!" I stop by the desk to borrow a loaner flash drive, and a patron needs me to check in his DVDs so he can check out more.

On the way back from helping the patron who needed the flash drive, notice that someone has left feces on the floor in two different places.

On the way to the janitor's closet for some cones, another English teacher needs to know--can I make up my hours somehow since the library is closed for President's Day?

Finally I put out the cones, call our janitorial service, etc. I forestall any interruptions from coworkers by raising my hand and calling out "I'm dealing with the poop!"

It's 3:15 and I was supposed to be on the information desk at 3:00. Immediately when I get to the desk, someone would like to put up her flyers on our community events bulletin board and wants my permission. Sorry, despite current appearances, I don't actually run this library.

Saturday, February 17, 2018


A kid patron was disappointed because one of my coworkers was leaving the desk, and said "Nooooo! She's my favorite!" She's a regular who I have a good relationship with, so I gasp and said "What!? I'm not your favorite!?"

She responded by leaning in conspiratorially, lowering her voice, and confiding "Actually, I'm my own favorite."

Tuesday, February 6, 2018


Since library workers tend to like control and to be kind of perfectionists, I suspect our workplaces are a little more filled with conflict (mostly passive-aggressive conflict) over the office environment than average. I try to not get emotionally invested because not only is that unproductive, in my experience public libraries are actually more collegial overall than other workplaces (my theory is that rude patrons are a collective enemy who make us see each other as allies and fellow sufferers).

Normally I am pretty successful at not caring. However, it so happens that I am the one who bought the most recent two bottles of dish detergent. The first one I bought was friendly to the environment brand that is as effective as any other dish soap but develops a hard cap of soap if it goes unused for a couple of days. The second was a cheap store brand bottle from the dollar store across the street. When I first got it, I put the second, unopened bottle right next to the open bottle on the counter so that people would know there was a spare when the open one ran out. Within a day someone had opened the new bottle, presumably because they didn't like spending the extra two seconds to get the first bottle to squirt. I admit that drove me a little crazy.

Do you have any pet peeves or petty frustrations in your library or office environment at the moment?

Monday, February 5, 2018


Businesses I daydream about starting on a quiet desk shift:

Weeding consultant firm: Do your librarians cling on to worn fiction or dusty reference books? Send in our company to pry the obsolete materials from their death grips and make your collection relevant, modern, and attractive!

Off-brand Geek Squad (I think they are limiting their market by only helping people who buy new Best Buy products): I am here to teach your grandma how to use the hand-me-down second generation Kindle that she just got when her grandchild got a new one for Christmas, and I promise to never roll my eyes!

Device lending library for libraries: Do you need your staff to practice with the latest iPhone, but pay them so poorly that none of them own one? Borrow one for a month from our rental service for a reasonable price, rather than buying a full-price gadget that will only be used for six months and then stored forever and ever in a locked cabinet in the branch manager's office!

Bad start to the week

A big crack in the ceiling, the catalog is down, the public computers are down, the new ESL teachers don't know anything, half the staff is out with the very nicest coworker says "I hate this f*cking job."

Friday, February 2, 2018

More trivial dilemma

Is it okay to tell a patron he looks like Idris Elba, or is Elba so handsome that saying someone looks like him is kind of definitionally flirting, and thus Not Cool to do at Work?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Tough concept

Man on cell phone: "Hello...I'm in the library." (pause) (raising his voice) "I said I'm in the library!"