Thursday, July 28, 2016

Yeshua Ben Elohim

This evening, a patron came off the elevator and marched right over to me and asked "Do you know who Yeshua Ben Elohim is?" I said that I recognized the name, but didn't know much about it. The patron replied, "Well, after I go to the bathroom I need to talk to you."

Thinking that she had a research question about this person, I did some searching while she was gone and found that it's a Hebrew phrase that was used by some religious text to talk about Jesus. It sounds like it's some controversial thing and there is a Protestant sect  or something who is up in arms about some stuff in the Old Testament that they think has to do with it. I don't know, I'm not well-informed on these matters. I was a little apprehensive about her coming back because everything I found seemed to take a side--there wasn't much neutral/informational material out there about the topic. But I was ready to try to find out whatever it was that she wanted to know.

Anyway, she came back and this conversation ensued:
Patron: You were supposed to be looking up stuff about Yeshua Ben Elohim!
Me (showing her one of the pages I had open): I was. What did you want to know about him?
Patron: No, I want you to know about him.
Me: Well, that's not really...
Patron: What's your religion?
Me: I'm actually not allowed...
Patron: Are you Catholic? Do you go to church?
Me: I'm actually not allowed to talk about religion...
Patron: Are you Catholic? You're Catholic, aren't you?
Me: I'm actually not allowed to talk about religion or politics at work.
Patron: I know you're Catholic.
Me: Is there any information I can give you about him? How can I help you?
Patron: You're already helping me. I am him. Tell the people at your church. [Pointing at my coworker] And tell her!

Nice and typical

Thursday, 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

You can tell this is Small Town Library because the first thing I do in the morning is let some people from the Friends of the Library group in a few minutes early. Definitely not something that would be allowed at Downtown Library. 

Coworker: I thought I was on the desk. Huh.

Direct a grandma and grandson to the bathroom. They come back a minute later. Grandma says, "He says the first one is out of paper towels."

Can I have the phone number for County Mental Health? 

 Someone comes to claim some summer reading prizes.

(I place holds on next month's book club selection for all my regular members.)

(I email the director to ask permission to ask a local business to donate stuff for one of my upcoming programs. )

The elevator is out of service and there is a Beatrix Potter Tea Party going on up on the third floor. Carry a stroller up there for a mom with one 1ish-year-old and one 4ish-year-old. The 4-year-old proudly 'helps' by carrying the water bottle that was in the stroller.

A parade of kids and parents come for the Tea Party, including an adorable little boy who is really excited to see me and says hello to me three times, then goodbye to me three times.

Phone call: Your computer says you have Doctor Foster on DVD. Can you get it so I can come and pick it up in like 20 minutes?

Someone from another library drops off materials for an upcoming senior resource fair. 

Phone call: Can you please register me for the program on Monday night?

Help someone scan and email something.

Add time to the computer for the man who is always reading about (possibly betting on) horse racing.

Hands me a DVD of Foyle's War, set 2. "I'm here to request the next set of this, please!"

I had to switch computers to let someone else use the scanner and now it won't let me log in.

A mom and kid have just signed the kid, about 12 years old, up for his own library card. We issue each person two copies of the card--a standard size one and a keychain one. The mom and son agree that the son, who has no keychain, doesn't really have a use for the keychain card. The son throws the card in the trash behind my desk, and his mom says, "Did you just throw that away?! That's your card, it has all your information on it!"

Regular patron, pointing at the computer area: Can you help me? I'm, um, I'm trying to sign up for a dinner, but I don't understand this form.
Me: Well, I don't want to make any promises since I probably have never seen that website before, but I'd be happy to take a look at it with you! 
We take a look together--the poor guy has a specific link he wants to go to, which he carefully copied down. Unfortunately, whoever gave him the link didn't bother to tell him it was case sensitive. (Sidenote: Why is that even a thing?! Just add one more character to your URL string, geez!) Fortunately, a little guessing gets him to a working link, and I think I successfully impart the idea of a 404 error. He says, "Thanks so much, Emma! You are wonderful!"

Kid who threw his library card away: Can you show us where the baseball books are?

Where is the Beatrix Potter Party?

Dinner signup gentleman: Emma! Sorry, can you come look at this?...Oh no, now it's gone.

Help DSG print out an email. He is the nicest and we are mutual fans (another member added to my Old Man Fan Club).

I think the 60ish woman who I gave information to about our Friends of the Library book sale just said "Thanks dude." Hm.

My favorite volunteer: Someone needs to pick those hydrangeas that are just lying flat on the sidewalk out front and put them in a vase!  


I wish we could name policies implemented because of individual patrons after those patrons, like how we put commemorative plates for library volunteers into books.

The Ms. Opp 'Three Phone Calls Per Day' Rule
The French Lady 'No Cursing People in the Library' Policy
The Mr. Timmons 'Five Hold Requests At A Time' Limit
The Tween Fan 'Library Staff Cannot be Facebook Friends with Patrons' Rule
The Magazine Requestor Guy 'A Portable Urinal is a Biohazard, No Exceptions' Policy

Or maybe they could ambiguously sponsor them, like how on Sesame Street things are "brought to you by the letter C"? Whether C intended to or not?

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Back again

The woman who was asked to leave because she was putting curses on people is back. My coworker told me that as she was coming on desk earlier this week, the librarian she was relieving said "Just a warning: I have already told that woman three times not to put our checkerboard on her head." My friend went to take a look and realized it was the same woman, covering her head as per cursing procedure.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Downtown Friday

(Refill the paper trays of all the copiers and printers.)

Good morning, Janis! You're going to stay until 11:00 this morning? That's your sweater? That's nice.

First question of the morning is by phone. Do you have the number for Local Hotel?

(Print out copies of some 1930s library posters for an upcoming display.)

I'm looking for an article from [Local Paper] from 20-11. I talked to Local Paper and they said their archive only goes back to 2012 and to come to you.
Have you ever used a microfilm reader before?
(I get him set up and reading.)

Janis seems to know a lot of the library patrons. When she says a loud, repeated goodbye to a woman in a green shirt, the green-shirted woman responds in a friendly fashion, but also shushes her.

I have a question about these computers. Do they remember your passwords?

(Collect two books and put them on the Staff Picks display.)

MAC: mumble mumble intersection.
Me: Sorry, what was that first part?
MAC: Wendy's.
Me: Hm...I'm here on their website and I see the location, but there aren't any phone numbers listed. I'll have to check a different directory.
MAC: Well, any Wendy's, then!

(Create new labels for the non-English collections, which were previously labeled only in English. They now say French/Français, Spanish/español, etc. It only took me two years to make that happen...)

(Do my hourly sweep of the floor. The area by the 800s really smells like pee, but I can't figure out what the source is.)

Call from a smaller nearby library: Do you still carry the NADA car guides? I have a patron here who we can't help, but I'm hoping maybe you can.

Excuse me, where is your bathroom?

Can I get some singles? I got a lot of copy work to do.

Is this 2? Is this floor 2!?

I was copying and the copier just stopped!

(Take some books out of the catalog for Laura, one of the librarians.)

What floor is your bathroom?

Phone call from MUFON patron: Could you please go to a website for me? Habitat for humanity dot org? I need some information about an event called Bike to Build.

Man who I shush for talking too loudly on his phone: Sorry! I'm sorry!

Do you have a fax machine?

Can I use a computer?

I'm looking for a CD. Bachman Turner Overdrive greatest hits.

Can I use a computer?

Does the printer only take cash?

Would it be okay for me to post these flyers for an AmeriCorps position?

Do you guys still have a public copy machine? And a change machine?

I need to get on a computer for like 20 minutes...I don't have a library card. I've lived here for like 5 years but I still have my Indiana ID.

Can you please help me with the printer?

Do you have City of Sparks? You know, one of the Ember books? (It's actually People of Sparks, but yes, we do.)

Where should we go to get a library card?

10 minutes before closing: Um, this says I have a book checked out that I never checked out. (It never fails.)

Thursday, July 21, 2016


I found out recently that a coworker at Small Town Library has a very similar bad dream to one I often have: It's closing time at the library and more and more people just keep coming in, and you can't go home until you get them all to leave.

Readers who work in libraries or retail establishments, do any of you have the same dream, or is it just me and Becca?

Call...Ishmael's dad

Small Town Library recently got something cool--a Call Me Ishmael phone. Call Me Ishmael (link) is a cool program where people call a specific phone number and leave a message about a book they love and a story about their lives. What we got is an old-timey phone that plays one of 9 of these messages depending on which button you press. It's set up right near the reference desk.

Today three tween boys came in and stopped to examine the phone. One of they said, "Wow, a payphone!" Then he turned to me and asked, "When did you get this?" I told him that we got it about a week ago and briefly explained what it was. His response? "Dang, I wanted to call my dad."

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Why my job is great, part XXVI

This evening I spent half an hour making this animation of a diver fleeing a shark because I am "planning an intergenerational coding program series."

That is, I hope that sometime in the spring I will be teaching a whole room of excitable grandparents and grandchildren to make animations of divers fleeing sharks (or, if I'm more advanced by then, maybe even teaching them to make animations of sharks eating divers).

Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday afternoon

Excuse me, miss? Can you help me transfer music to my Kindle?

Is there something wrong with the copier?

The paper light on the copier is on.

I still can't get my music.

(I refill the paper trays of both copiers and the printer.)

Can you help me find a book to teach my son the things he should know for preschool?

Can you help me find this job at Dollar General I am supposed to apply for?

(I get some books for the 'staff picks' display.)

IPhone: Hi. I need the number for Safelink Wireless.

I need Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, and also the sequel, but I don't know the title.

Do you have change for a twenty, by any chance?

Did I do something wrong? My thing isn't printing.

(Change out the cyan printer cartridge.)

I've been in therapy since I was 18. Now I'm 46. You tell me how long that is. That's a long time, huh?

My computer logged me out. Why? Did I run out of time?

Can you come with me to print? Just in case?

I need some more ones [$1 bills].

Can you help me download some music now?

What do I have to click again to make this website work? "Allow once"?

To get back to the music I just go to YouTube, right?

Can you sign this?

Thanks for everything! God bless you!

Thursday, July 7, 2016


Someone called this evening asking for the telephone number for "mufon," which fortunately he conscientiously spelled out for me. It turns out "MUFON" stands for Mutual UFO Network. Another "at least once in a public librarian's career" box checked!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Screwy Decimal

I found a new library blog to follow this week, everyone! It's about 1/3 funny stories, 1/3 serious thoughts about librarianship, and 1/3 information about the author's other projects. Maybe check it out and see if I should add it as a 'branch'?

Screwy Decimal by Rita Meade

4th of July patron of the week

Today a computer illiterate man was struggling to digitize and transmit a resume. He started with a paper copy that he scanned, but he couldn't edit it since it was on marbled paper so no PDF converter services would change it into an editable file. He got stuck a few times in the early stages and I noticed the man next to him on the guest computers help him a couple of times while my coworker Laura and I were both busy with other patrons. Eventually we realized that if he wanted it to look good he was going to have to retype the whole thing. He struggled with the basics for a while (again, not my job to type up your resume for you, sorry) and after a couple of minutes the man next to him said, "Do you want me to just type that up for you?" and he did!

(I figured the least I could do was give the helper some extra computer time.)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Here to crush your hopes

Things I have had to clarify/reiterate for people today:

No, you can't just browse unsupervised among our 100-year-old, rare local business directories.

There isn't a way to "override" the captcha verification you are struggling with.

You have to put the 15 cents into the coin box attached to the copier in order to make a copy. You can't just hand it to me.

I'm sorry, it's not part of my job to type up your letter to the court for you.

No, I won't reimburse you for the five dollars of printouts that came out with only header and footer because you didn't do a print preview.

Yes, you need to enter your email address in the box that says "email address."

No, you cannot eat an entire Domino's pizza in the library (I actually smelled it all the way from my office and had to come out specifically to say that.)