Can I help you?
I need to return this, and to pay a fine, and to check something out, and you are holding a book for me somewhere.
I had one of the mini library cards on my key ring but then I lost my keys. Can I get a new one?
Not a new one with your old number. We can replace your entire card for one dollar. We don’t have the technology to do custom-numbered cards (not even CLOSE to the technology.)
Never mind then.
I charge a patron for a lost item. Somehow I mess this up so badly that the computer system produces an error message that our head of circulation, who has worked in the system for…a million years, has never seen before. Bonus weirdness: He comes in to report that he lost the item but is not actually prepared to pay the fine I assess as a result. So why did you report it today, guy?
Can you check these books in? Wait check them back out, no check them back in. Some of them.
A shy little girl with her mom approaches the desk to ask: “When are the dogs coming to the library?” We had a program last year where you could read to a therapy dog and it was a big hit. I don’t know the answer to this for sure because the summer brochure isn’t out yet but I say they are probably coming in the summer.
Guy who had been laboriously working on a job application at the world’s worst website has it crash on him. It’s logged him out and he has to navigate all the way back to his page—there is nothing I can do to help him but provide moral support.
Same guy thought he saved two versions of his resume but only one is showing up. Well, do you need them both, sir? No, but I don’t know if this is the newer one or not. I show him how to open the document in Microsoft Word to check and—thank goodness—it IS the right version.
Now that the job application’s resume is uploaded he wants to know, “So how do I send it to them?” Getting him to believe that the resume will be automatically sent when he submits his online application takes some work.
Teenager: “We left one of our personal books here [describes its irrelevant features in great detail].”
I can’t find it or any record of it in the back so I go out to clarify. Then he says it was his mom who talked to us, and all she told him was that it was at the “Plano” library. He just assumed that meant this branch, I guess because that’s where they “usually go.”
Doing stuff in Spanish—how to get a card, log in to the computer, I don’t know the word for “screen,” which is a problem. But I handle the whole transaction in Spanish competently and then notice that my boss (a Spanish-speaker) is standing right behind me and looks impressed. Yes!
We can’t get into this website (because we are typing the address into the search box of the library catalog).
A kid asks for “scary stories,” my least favorite reader’s advisory.
Can I check this movie out from this display? What about this book?
Now the second hardest RA: “funny books.”
A small kid is just tearing by and when I tell him to please walk in the library he stops in confusion. “Dinosaurs!” he says, “I’m looking for dinosaurs!” So I get him a big dinosaur encyclopedia and everyone is happy.
Do you want me to show you how to print more than one thing at a time? This guy is one of my favorite patrons because he is thrilled by everything about the library. I met him a little while ago when he wanted a list of the zip codes contained in nearby cities. I actually showed him how to release multiple print jobs last week. Once I asked him tonight if he wanted me to show him he remembered what to click and he was so excited, and said “Thank you so much for reminding me!” Then he went over to the Customer Service desk and asked them if they had found his coat which he left in the library. We had and he was extremely grateful.
Do you want me to show you how to print more than one thing at a time? (Different patron.)
Go over to kick out a guy who waits to start shutting his computer down and packing up until after the “library is closed” announcements, despite the deafening twenty-minute and five-minute warnings. Good night, and good luck!