"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?