Friday, February 26, 2016


Man to young son: "Shh! You at the liberry!"

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wednesday before the storm

There's supposed to be a big snowstorm in our region starting tonight, so I thought I'd better give you the news today in case we close tomorrow.

Exchange "good mornings" with the two men who are always here first thing when we open. I have never answered a question for either of them at the ref desk, although there is a third man who comes in a little bit later and asks about the newspaper if it hasn't been put out yet.

Coworker goes downstairs to take a found driver's license and library card down to lost and found.

Janis is here this morning as well. I showed her how headphones work (well, I showed her where to plug them in, I assume there will be a Part Two about how to put them on your head). Yes she is a lot of work, but she's so nice. I was relieved to find out she lives in an adult foster home, so someone will be making sure she does get home okay if the storm hits.

Make change for the same man twice because he's printing a huge number of documents. I'd better remember to put in more paper when he's finished.

Janis comes to let me know she has to go brush her teeth.

The printing man drops a twenty dollar bill. He's lucky my coworker and I see it first.

Our new elevator has a button to call the elevator company installed it in. This button is low to the ground, probably for the legitimate reason that people who are short, young, or in wheelchairs should be able to reach it, but people lean on it without noticing all the time, and then it broadcasts a dial tone for ten minutes and no one in the building has the power to turn it off.

Janis has left her cup for rinsing her mouth down on the first floor, so she needs to know what button to push on the elevator to go down and get it to brush her teeth.

For some reason our library system's boss of finance is here using the copier and printer. I hope he at least has an override key of some kind.

Coworker comes by to return the props I used in a Detroit/Motown/Underground Railroad display for Black History month.

We get Janis logged in to a computer and watching a video of Janis Joplin. She is really making progress!

You got newspapers up here? (Which ones?) Oh, just any.

Lend out a scanner.

Help a nice woman looking for books on parenting shy kids.

MAC calls for a couple of phone numbers. Ugh.

People need a tax form. Sorry, the copier doesn't do double-sided.

The elevator opens to a deliveryman with a box of pizza. Uh oh.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I'm not friends...

...with patrons on Facebook, is a rule I had to invent on the spot today.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Patron of the Day

Today's award goes to the man a little older than I am who wanted information about how to teach someone autistic to count money. "He's my neighbor. I hear his dad yelling at him all the time. He just doesn't get it. You've got to have patience. I already taught him how to tell time, so that's good, but when I took him to the grocery store yesterday he gave the cashier $40.32 instead of $14.32. I was thinking I could buy some of that fake Monopoly money and we could practice with that."

So nice!


Things our current Library Code of Conduct policy needs to be revised to cover more explicitly:
Then again, I had to stop a man who was rolling menthol cigarettes in here this morning, and I thought "no tobacco products" was pretty clear. Hm.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Oh good, you're here!

"Oh good, you're here!" is something two patrons said to me today without a trace of irony. I feel bad because I cringed inwardly both times, even though I was also a little excited.

I've written before on this blog about having fans (See My First Fan, Old Man Fan Club, and especially Will You Be My Friend?), but I don't think I've previously focused on two things about librarian fans. The first is that fandom is random. In most cases, the thing that you do to win someone as a fan is something that any of your coworkers could have done, probably easily. I might be a little more patient than some of the people I work with, but generally they have all the skills that I have. So winning a fan is often a matter of chance-you just happen to be the person that is sitting at the desk when that person comes in.

Fans are generally also some of the most high-maintenance library visitors. High-maintenance patrons generally fall into two categories: patrons who are high-maintenance because they hate the library and/or library staff, and patrons who are high-maintenance because they love the library and/or library staff. People who want to chat with you about how great the library is, or just to chat with you, or to thank you repeatedly for every little thing you do to help them, can take up a lot of time. Fans also don't tend to be super socially aware, so they often interrupt you when you are helping someone else or at least fail to notice that someone else is waiting for assistance. Sometimes when they really do need help, they need a lot of it, too. My two fans who came in today, for instance, were Janis and the CHAMPS lady.

I've named Janis after Janis Joplin, because she comes in with the sole purpose of looking at pictures of Janis Joplin, either in books or on Google Images. I'm the one who taught her to use Google image search, which is why she's a fan. She is so, so nice, but she needs to check in with me repeatedly throughout her library visit. "I'm going to a computer now, okay, Emma?", "I'm going to the bathroom now but then I'll come back, okay?" "I'm leaving now, Emma," "Okay, bye, Emma." It generally takes her a few tries to get her library card number typed in to log on to a computer, and she's quite intimidated by the process.

The CHAMPS lady, like Janis, is really nice. Only, she needs to fill out a complex online form and she is almost completely illiterate. She works as a home care aide.Today her grumpy husband was with her for part of the time and I asked him if he could read, and he said "A little. But I don't have my glasses." So they need a lot of help. It's not a huge surprise that she can't log on to a computer, go to a particular website, and then navigate that site, considering that she doesn't have any instructions to guide her. I asked her if she had told CHAMPS that she couldn't read. She said she had, and when I asked what they told her to do for help, she said "They told me to come to the library." Aargh.

So, those are my fans. I got an odd little insight today into what it might feel like to actually be famous. You want people to like you, but maybe you don't really want to see those people?


Happy #caturday!!! Come to the library today! #rplsummer
Brought to you by the Richmond Public Library:

Sorry, today is Meme Day for me here at the library because I got a lot of work done on my desk shift yesterday afternoon and I need something to keep myself amused. Normally everyone takes turns on the desk, but on weekends everyone gets to stay home except just enough people to keep the library running, so everyone on desk is there for the full 9 hours that we are open (minus lunch, of course. Librarians don't skip lunch.). It's a good thing we have such extended weekend hours so people can get all their vital questions answered, such as...

Where is the bathroom?

Can you help me get on the wireless?

When are you getting the rest of the tax forms?

How do I process words on the computer?

What's the phone number for Local Business? Huh, oh really...are you sure?

How many judges are there on the Supreme Court?


Can you help me look at pictures of Janis Joplin?

Brought to you by the letter B

B is for bathroom, basement, and boyfriend.

"Excuse me, do you work here?"
"Yes, how can I help you?"
"What beautiful eyes!"
"Thank can I help you?"
"Excuse me, the man in the bathroom is taking so long. Maybe he is asleep. Is there another bathroom in the library?"
"Yes, down in the basement. If you go out that way and down the stairs or the elevator, it will be right in front of you when you come out."
"Oh, thank you! What button do I push?"
"B, for basement."
"Do you have a boyfriend?"
"I'm married."
"Oh. Oh wow...What button do I push again?"
"B, B for basement."
"Thank you!"

(Picture from

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Anything I need to know about the man with the urinal? something that I had to type in our chat service to my coworker this evening (you can't talk about this stuff aloud because it just draws other patrons into the mix).

He was carrying around one of those portable plastic urinal jugs they used in hospitals (empty for the moment, thank god) and refused to leave or at least put it in a bag.

As my coworker said, you just can't make this stuff up.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016


MAC, our Most Annoying Caller known for the most insincere "thank you"s, has called like 4 times today, apparently. I got the third call and he went on a rant about how the other staff member he talked to had kept asking him if that was all she could help him with "as though she thought I was flirting with her, but I just have poor vision and I call the library to get those numbers!" Apparently he thought she was being hostile and rude (how ironic!) and wanted me to sympathize.

Not only did I not sympathize, but I had some schadenfreude because one of the phone numbers he asked for was the Traffic Division at the local county courthouse--apparently he wants to fight the speeding ticket he got recently!