Thursday, March 3, 2016

Emma the Rulebreaker

Big news, readers! I have been offered a job as a librarian at a medium-sized library in a nearby town. It is only part time, so I will be quitting my job at the college but keeping my job at the Downtown Library. During my interview, they asked: "Tell us about the last time you broke a rule for a patron." That was the moment I knew I was going to fit in.

Breaking rules is definitely good in some contexts, but sometimes rules are there for a reason. In celebration of my new job at what I'm just going to call the New Library, I present:

Some Patrons for whom I have Broken Rules
(Sometimes I regretted it, but sometimes I didn't)

There was a woman applying for subsidized housing who had been working on the online app with her boyfriend, using the boyfriend's card to log onto the computer. He left and took the card with him. When she was finished with the application, she couldn't get the confirmation from the printer, because the printer requires you to enter your library card number to release print jobs, and she couldn't get a hold of the boyfriend to get the number. Michigan law actually says it's illegal to use someone else's library card even with permission, so although I explained this for future reference, I used the staff print console to release her document. Worth it.

Any homeless person who brings his food into the library is safe around me, provided he doesn't eat by the computers.

When I first started working at the Downtown Library, I kept letting people borrow the historical directories of the city without holding their IDs for ransom, but more because I forgot to ask than as a principled violation of policy.

I answer more than three reference questions per phone call (our official limit) for Loud Background Noise Woman, because we all know she only gets the phone in her group home once a day. It's not like she can just call back half an hour later.

I let a group of blind patrons run their laptop cord across a walkway. Maybe not worth it because it turns out they were really rude to my colleague downstairs earlier.

Basically anyone who has even been in the middle of something related to a job application related, a court hearing, or a public assistance application when they start to run out of time on the 15-minute guest computers. One session a day? Sure, whatever, rules!

I let people sleep in the library all the time. See: homeless people eating in the library, above.

Lastly, I let a really angry woman who wasn't with children into the children's restroom, which is not only against our policy on its own, but also against our policy about exceptions, which goes something like, "If there are reasonable grounds to make an exception to a policy...blah blah blah...a patron being aggressive, upset, or angry is not reasonable grounds...". Pure spinelessness!


  1. congrats on the new job! goodl luck!

  2. Hey good going on the new job! Reference librarian?

    1. Thank you! Yes, I'll be a reference librarian there, in the adult services department.

  3. Did they seem to like your answers? I guess so since they gave you an offer :>)!!

    1. Yes! I also got to say, "Does it count if I know that my boss will back me up?" because Downtown Library is good about making reasonable exceptions to policy.

  4. congratulations! You're so lucky to get a real librarian job!

  5. That's an awesome interview question!