Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Rules Don't Apply to ME

I know everyone one will envy me when I tell you I had the privilege today of conversing with one of those rare individuals to whom the rules do not apply.

A woman asks me for help with the copier. We don’t own the copiers. They are owned and serviced by another company. And “a man” comes every so often to take all of the dimes accumulated in the machines, even though we, the librarians, are expected to provide the customer service for them. Like all customer service exploits, we are also expected to be “experts.”

I show the woman the complex method of placing the desired page face down on the glass between the two neon pink arrows. But, to complicate an already highly sophisticated procedure, the woman says that she wants to copy onto a brightly colored piece of paper. She holds up the paper.

I explain to her that she won’t be able to do that.

“Well, I do it all the time at home.”

Then why don’t you go home . . . “These machines are owned by another company. The company doesn’t want any other paper going through because of the possibility of it jamming.”

“Well, what would happen if you weren’t here?”

This is the part about the rules not applying.

“Ma’am, there’s nothing I can do about that.”

“Well, then.” But what her eyes say is: “Leave already.”

I start to walk away, and she says (and I quote): “Which tray should I put it in?”

I wish I was one of those lucky individuals to whom the rules didn’t apply.

Friday, June 23, 2006


The front door to the library opens and here he comes . . . Dum-da-da-dum . . . CrackMan! What, you may ask, has earned CrackMan such an ominous nick-name? CrackMan has been thus dubbed because of the view the library staff gets as he pines hours away at the computer.

Is your teenage daughter bored? Does she need someone to view her online profile and tell her how great the posted picture of her cleavage is? Never fear, CrackMan is here. He ties up public internet terminals for weeks at a time. He has fine tuned the clever art of online stalking. He proves once and for all that you don’t have to be a rocket science to find pathetic, lonely teenage girls who will tell you their “most embarrassing moment.”

CrackMan enters the scene, scopes the situation. Hmmmm . . . all terminals are in use. He turns to leave. Don’t be discouraged, CrackMan. There’ll be other days for you to exploit vulnerable teenage girls.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Title of My Autobiography

It is my absolute pleasure and purgatory assignment to conduct the selection rituals for adult non-fiction. With the hundreds of titles I go through each month, every once in a while I come upon one or two that really touch me in that right way that every librarian loves to be touched. And then there are those especially brilliant titles deserving of an even higher honor: the stolen title for my autobiography.

Formerly, the reigning champion title was Ruining it for Everyone.

But, ladies and gentleman, there is a new Queen in town. Now my (as yet unwritten) autobiography is entitled: Somebody's Gotta Say It.

(Maybe I should combine them and make it: Somebody's Gotta Say It: Ruining It for Everyone. But I've gotta work the phrase "book junkie" somewhere in there.)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Meaning of Life

A young boy (I'm guessing about 9th grade) comes up to the desk and tells me he needs a book about "the value of life."

"Can you be more specific?"

"Well, I have to write a paper and I need a passage from a book about the value of life."

Just for kicks I do a word search for "value" and "life." Sometimes you get lucky. But not this time.

I explain to him, "I don't have any books just about the value of life. Can you pick something more specific? Maybe I can find something about that."

There is a long pause. I can actually hear the wheels in his head grinding together.

"I don't know." He finally stammers. He actually expects me to still find him something.

"Well," I try and say as nicely as possible, "I think that's part of the assignment. So why don't you think about it and come back up."

By the way, could you also just write the paper for me? Hand me the answers to the proficiency and write a college entrance essay?

What a mean, old, rotten librarian I am. Making him do his own assignment. The nerve!

Thursday, June 15, 2006


My manager and I were talking today about the ongoing problem of unattened children in the library. "Unattended children" is a misleading label, the child's parent is actually in the building, just not paying any attention. Anyone who has ever worked in a library will be familiar with this phenomenon. Apparently these parents are under the impression that being under the same roof is applied supervision.

So I suggested we play host to a kennel at the entrance of the library. These would be like the lockers at the entrance of six flags where you can place your valuables and carry around those ever so fashionable little keys.

But then we'd get complaints about not having a quarter machine so the parent could get change. And then we'd have a bunch of kids stuck here. Maybe overnight.

Let's just not even touch on what would happen when the parents actually LEAVES them there while they go to work, or something.