Home > Libraries > Ten Things Your Public Librarians Won’t Tell You

Ten Things Your Public Librarians Won’t Tell You

February 25, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments
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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.

  1. February 25, 2011 at 9:40 AM

    Good to know. On #5, this would probably be true for 99.9% of all libraries, but for some reason our main library in the county where I live has perfected the art of ineptitude. They would send me a late notice (more than once) for books only to discover later that, yes, I did indeed return it a month ago.

  2. February 25, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    #9 also goes for libraries that offer passport renewal services during select hours. A friend of mine works at a library and she says that when passport staff are not on-site, people insist on asking their questions of the regular library staff, and get irritated when the person they’re asking can’t answer the question. Again: they’re not withholding information they have because it’s “off-hours” and they want to be mean about it. They’re not answering because this is not their area of specialty. If you want those questions answered (accurately, and I assume that would be the point), ask the people who know, not just the people who happen to be nearby.

  3. Karen
    February 25, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    But the problem with number 5 is that it has happened to me at least three times since I moved back to PA that I HAD returned something and yet I got a notice it was late … each time (and this covers two different county systems), the item later turned up in the shelves, often when someone else tried to check it out. Each time it was also when I returned multiple items at the same time in a book drop. So it isn’t always the patrons fault.

    • Karen
      February 25, 2011 at 12:57 PM

      since I moved back to PA is about 5.5 years, by the way …

    • Kass
      February 25, 2011 at 4:18 PM

      Not always. But often.

  4. Ren
    February 25, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    I reshelve books all the time. haha. But then, I did work in the school library both years of grad school. Surely that makes it ok. 😛

  5. Kristen
    February 25, 2011 at 5:56 PM

    I reshelve my books in the dairy case and reshelve my orange juice in the Social Science section. I just wanted to save you time!

  6. thedonofpages
    February 26, 2011 at 12:43 AM

    I don’t understand the horror of #3, as I still have floppies. As for #9, for a charge of 15 cents a page, our laser printer will poop out most tax forms. As for tax advice, even IRS won’t stand behind their own advice. If I give tax advice, the Library won’t stand anywhere near it.

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