Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Coworker: "There's a man asleep over there. And I also saw a chicken bone on the floor. Which is my priority!?"

Winter(?) holidays

As far as diversity and inclusion is concerned, my library is all about good intentions combined with appalling ignorance of other cultures.

Today I had to send an email letting my coworkers know that if they want to put together 'winter holiday' children's book displays, they should stop putting Ramadan-related items on them. In someone's effort to be culturally inclusive, she put books about a holiday that began in June last year and will begin in June next year on that display. When I went to replace those items with ones that were more appropriate, I saw that no wonder she, a 60ish white Midwesterner, had been confused: our children's holiday books are shelved by the point at which they occur in the calendar year, starting with New Year's Day (or Eve) and ending with Kwanzaa. For some mysterious reason, Ramadan books are placed between Hanukkah and Kwanzaa--probably that's when Ramadan fell in the year that the holiday section was created.

I'm not sure how we're going to redo that shelving to accommodate holidays that are on a lunar calendar (ideas, anyone?) but I am sure that I'm going to push for a Ramadan-themed storytime or craft program in June. Attendance is mandatory for all white, Judeo-Christian librarians.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Anytime you want

It's been relatively quiet at the library the last couple of weeks, or at least I've been missing most of the excitement. Today is the first real snow of the winter so it's dead even for a Saturday. I was expecting to get more phone calls, but all I've had so far are a few schedule- or circulation-related questions and the regular call from our Rudest Phone Patron.

Today's first patron comes up to the desk, brandishes a duffel bag, and says, "You can look in here anytime you want. And I have ID if you need it."

I've recovered from my earlier altercation with the man who wanted me to find him a book about the "dreading" of the Nile River and now we get along (I don't think he remembers that incident). I help him find books about building your own computer and he is so happy! He thanks me three times.

One of the regulars asks me, "Where's your partner in crime?" She's gone to lunch, but only after making the security guard promise to stay on the 2nd floor with me unless he gets called away. "I don't think he's dangerous or anything, but that man sitting in the back there is really wound up and agitated and keeps coming up here." When I asked what he was wound up about, she cryptically replied "chess."

An older couple comes in needing to enter some information on the State of Michigan CHAMPS website (my number one website nemesis at the moment). I helped them previously but couldn't surmount the problem that the woman didn't have her password. I was hoping she had located it and come back, but after my colleague helped them for five minutes or so, she came back to the desk and discretely typed to me on our staff chat function: "It's always the same sad story with those two. I've tried helping them several times with that and it always ends the same way."

The man with the duffel bag from earlier comes back with the same message again. I really don't want to know what's in there.

A phone call. This poor woman called the library yesterday hoping to get the telephone number of a teacher who'd mentored her as a kid. Instead the librarian found an obituary for that teacher, from about a month ago. The woman calls back today to get the memorial service information: "They told it to me yesterday but I was just so distraught, I didn't write it down, and now I don't remember it." At least she is just in time to be able to send flowers for the memorial, which makes her feel a bit better. She is very nice and I feel we are getting along, but then she starts telling me about how 'fishy' it is that there is a memorial service so late after the teacher died. "My family was in the funeral business, and I just don't think...."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

As you know, we have had several incidents of drug overdoses recently....

...is not a great start to an email from the branch head.

Don't worry, the email was only to say that the local fire department had provided us with some guidelines for how to act in those situations.