Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Library Love, Part The First

(I wrote this in September 2006, so it's quaintly "retro")

I was a page for about two years, and to this day I still have an overwhelming urge to push in chairs, pick up stray books, and shift a disorderly shelf.

One time when I was being driven to work (my car had been out of commission for a few months) these girls in front of the library screamed "HEY CUTIE!" at me. We also got a smart-ass comment in our suggestion box saying "you have some hot guys working for you. They should make a calendar." As Lisa Simpson observed, us library boys are the wildest.

Sex in the stacks? Not quite, but a friend of mine who used to work with me witnessed a lady giving her man a handjob through his shorts while working on the computer. Also, a man was arrested for exposing himself, and was apparently handcuffed while his member was hanging out and getting some air.

Anytime anyone checks out something by James Joyce, I'm compelled to tell them that he's my favorite author. It's not that I'm trying to look smart, it's because I seriously don't know anyone who likes Joyce.

Eventually my coworkers come to me divulging details of their sex lives. I don't know why this is.

When an angry patron demands to have their fines waved for an item that was clearly damaged by them and the supervisor agrees to do it, I'm legitimately offended.

An overweight woman of God who comes into one of my libraries once lifted her leg up and dug her fingers into an obscene area to scratch herself while talking to me. She frequently complains about other library patrons having no manners and has delivered written complaints to my boss about it.

Whenever I ask coworkers who their favorite authors are, I am usually met with blank stares and the response "I don't read."

I go to clubs frequently, and have encountered a surprising number of people who work at libraries and are working on Library Science degrees.

I have always wondered if the indignant jerks who complain about their overdue fines also complain with the same vigor at video rental places like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. When my library used to charge $2.00 a day for overdue movies (the good old days) people would constantly bitch that Blockbuster doesn't charge that much. I withheld the temptation to remind them that Blockbuster also doesn't give them movies for free like we do. My thinking is that anything given away for free is taken for granted, and if you dare suggest a penalty for not returning it on time, there'll be hell to pay.

One thing that I've always loathed is when patrons feel the need to say "I pay your salary with my taxes" when there's a problem with their record. As if paying taxes and receiving a public service gives them the right to take books, movies, and CDs for free, return them whenever they please in whatever condition they please, and then complain when they want to check out an item that can't circulate due to damage or hasn't been returned yet because someone's keeping it past their due date.

My favorite response to "You still have a couple of items checked out on your record"? "No, I don't, " followed by a loud fifteen minute argument, a trip to their car, and a quick return of said items without an apology.

I have gained a significant amount of weight due to working at the library, because of the frequent pot lucks (about two a month), a candy jar for the staff, and a constant flow of candies, cookies, and snacks left for the staff in the break room.

The new library that I work at is notable for two things: One, it's the biggest and fanciest library I've ever worked at. Two, it has fewer books than the smallest library I've ever worked at.

One time a woman came in to pay some overdue fines and felt so much guilt about it that she needed to let me know that the reason the books were overdue was because she had a hemorrhoid operation and she swore that she'd never, ever let this happen again. The fine was under a buck.

When I used to shelf read people knew better than to talk to me immediately afterwards, because I would always return looking either pissed off or sad. My friend brought that to my attention and I had no idea that it was so obvious. The reason for this was because I would always be deep in thought while shelf reading, both putting the books in order and thinking about the meaning of life. The best ideas I ever came up with usually resulted from shelf reading and killing the tedium of the task by coming up with various book ideas and philosophies. I hardly ever wrote these down.

I always thought that those famous calls to the library to find out what a song's title was or how the lyrics went to a song were all a bunch of crap until it actually happened on my second day of working at the information desk. The song? "Seasons in the Sun" by Terry Jacks. They asked for and got the sheet music from the original, "Le Moribond" by Jacques Brel, because this particular library was known for it's massive collection of sheet music. I have not received a similar call since.

Years ago I read a page of humorous observations about working in a library. I liked it enough that it stuck in my head, but due to my short attention span I only visited the page once. I found out last week that I work with the guy who does it, and he'll probably think I'm ripping him off with this post.

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