Ten Things Your Public Librarians Won’t Tell You
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1. We are not stupid. We know when you are gaming the system. We know when you are trying to be deceitful. And we will monitor you if you raise suspicion or seem consistently dishonest.
2. When you come to the checkout counter (aka circulation desk) with more than 5 CDs at time, we pretty much know you’re burning these CDs on your machine but it’s not our job to police you.
3. We would really, really appreciate it if you stopped using that big floppy disk that has virtually nil storage capacity compared to a tiny flash drive that has tons of storage. In this case, bigger is not better.
4. It’s almost always not a stupid question.
5. We know that you swear on your dog’s life that you returned that book and returned it on time, but if we can’t find it on our shelves, we’re pretty certain it’s still in your possession in some form, most likely under a seat in your car. Please check and double-check under the seats in your car before adamantly insisting that you’ve returned an item.
6. You are responsible for a borrowed library item in your possession. As a result, we will hold you responsible if it is returned damaged or missing in any way (eg, water damage, cracked CDs, missing DVDs from a set, an unidentifiable sticky substance we do not want to touch without using a biohazard suit).
7. We love talking to our patrons and spending time with them at the circulation desk, but be conscientious of others. Sometimes lines quickly and quietly form behind right behind you and it’s not pleasant for another person to be kept waiting because you want to keep talking. If you really want to keep talking, at least move to the side so we can speedily assist the next person but really everyone would prefer it if you saved the conversation for a less busy time.
8. Please do not shelve things yourself. You’ll most likely put it back in the wrong place and cause undue distress to others because it can’t be found. If you pull any library item off a shelf and choose not to check it out, please ask the staff where you should place it. In some libraries, there are carts for depositing items you do not want. If this is not the case, leave the items on an empty table or (even better!) bring it to the circulation desk and tell the staff you don’t want the items.
9. We are not tax advisors. Do not get huffy when we cannot offer tax advice beyond the location of your tax forms. (Actually, some librarians might be cheeky enough to tell you this.) Some libraries have third-party tax assistance that comes in and helps patrons with tax inquiries; ask your local library whether this is a service it offers. In addition, do not get huffy with us if we have run out of tax forms. We do not poop out these documents on site and we are not intentionally withholding them from you; they are provided to us by the government who would prefer that you file electronically by walking into H&R Block or using Turbo Tax. Blame them, not us.
10. Using the library is a privilege. If you rack up fines, pay them. If they’re extremely excessive, you may be able to negotiate them down some by speaking to the person who oversees circulation. If the fines are constantly excessive, we lose patience and sympathy. Take care of the items that are loaned to you (remember rule #6!), return them within the allotted time frame (or pay promptly if returned late), and be courteous to staff.
If the library is your primary source for books and other media, then you need library staff to be your “friends.” Being a nice, courteous patron goes a long way and staff will go out of their way to make your visits pleasant and satisfactory. Be a consistently rude or difficult patron… well, don’t be surprised if all your library experiences suddenly become harrowing.