When I became a librarian I was woefully under prepared for the mess that awaited me beyond the library door. I’ve been a library patron, but the libraries that I frequent are quiet, studious places filled with lovely library patrons who read books and do research on the computers. The library that I work at on the other hand is a mish mash of the ignorant, the indigent, the clueless, the rude, and my personal favorite the aromatic.
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Please find somewhere else to spend your miserable time. I’m sick to death of dealing with you. Why is it that no one understands that the library is not a homeless shelter, free baby sitting service, social service agency, video arcade, peep show, or an other of the 999 other inappropriate uses that you have for it?
To the smelly homeless guy that is always asleep by the magazines: For the last time, no you cannot sleep in the library. It’s a rule that we had to make to keep people like you from sleeping all day in the library. I feel bad for your situation, really I do, but I also know that you can get free meals, a place to sleep and a shower if you just stop at the shelter that is 3 blocks away from our front door.
To the guy who asked me if we could keep his extra malt liquor in the staff fridge: No, in fact if you bring it in here I’m going to call the cops. Not because I’m a tight assed bitch, because that’s the rules, dude. It’s called public intoxication and it’s illegal.
To the girls who smoke pot in the bathrooms: Yes it was me who called the cops. No that doesn’t make me racist and no you can’t come back. I don’t care that it’s going to rain. When you get arrested in my bathroom you can’t come back, even if it means you get wet.
To the parents of the children who are running around screaming: You make me want to run around and scream my head off too, but I don’t, I control myself, why can’t you control your offspring? When I was a Children’s Librarian we called it using your inside voice. Try it.
To the parents who tell your miserable offspring to come to the library after school because you choose not to find a babysitter/daycare: We are not a free babysitting service. Yes, we have nice books and computers for the kiddies to use, but you need to come along with them. Otherwise I will get their information from their library card and call social services. It’s not my job to watch your brats.
To the 99.9% of computer users who don’t have the faintest idea how to use the Internet: I’m happy to help you get started, but I won’t help you beyond that. We have a lovely (and free) series of classes to teach you, but I have others to help and I can’t hold you hand all day long so that you can sell your shit on EBay. I also can’t help you file your divorce even though the courthouse told you that I would. I’m not a lawyer, I’m a librarian, so I can’t help you out.
To the man who just told me that Wisconsin sure isn’t like Illinois: No shit Sherlock. We like it that way. If you and your trophy wife hadn’t allowed your spoiled brat of a daughter to be drinking at Country Thunder you wouldn’t have to pay that $400 ticket that she got. Yep, underage drinking is illegal in Wisconsin, and nope, I’m not going to agree that it sucks. I’ve worked both here and in Illinois, and even though patrons here get under my skin I’ll take them any day over the soccer mommies in Lincolnshire. Suck it up, pay the ticket, don’t let your daughter drink until she is 21 and get out of my state.
To the people who want me to hold their hand and show them exactly where the book they want is: Don’t look at the piece of paper that I’ve written the call number down for you like it’s Sanskrit. Can you count? Then you can use the Dewey Decimal System. At least try to find the book because there are 15 other people waiting for me to solve their problems for them too. I know that they teach this stuff in elementary school, so try to figure it out on your own. But since I like you because you are actually looking for a book, if you really can’t find it come and ask me nice and I’ll help you.
To the people who want me to fix the computer so that you can spend 15 hours a day chatting, playing solitaire, looking for your one true love, etc. online: Don’t get me wrong, I like the Internet. I just don’t like it when you are sitting around doing nothing library related every single hour we are open. That means that people who have an actual research need can’t get to the computers, so no, I’m not going to help you solve why it’s hung up. Don’t you have something else to do with your time – like work maybe? I know for a fact that the McDonald’s just up the street is hiring, maybe you should apply. By the way, I know how to fix the problem, I’m just not going to help you because I hate you, so I will always turn it off and make sure you have lost everything that you have done so far. Consider yourself warned. Lots of people hate Bill Gates; I hate him for his philanthropy. I wish I could throw the patron computer out the door and drive over them with a dump truck.
To the people who check out books, DVDs and CDs and never bring them back: I hope you die. Seriously. You are the worst people in the world. There’s a technical word for people like you – thieves. Won’t you be surprised the next time you get pulled over and your car is impounded because I’ve sworn out a warrant for your arrest. Yep, theft of library materials is a crime, and I intend to start having it enforced. So to those self-righteous religious zealots who stole all my sex, Wicca, true crime books so that they couldn’t corrupt others, beware. Or if you stole them for your own collection, I hope you don’t want to renew your driver’s license or plates. Those materials belong to everyone, not just you. That’s what we mean by public library.
To my co-workers: Stop bitching because I have two desks and you have to share one with two other people. There are a couple of reasons for this. I don’t really have two desks; one of these so-called desks is the reference desk so I guess by that logic you have two desks too. One of them is the circulation desk. Enjoy your newfound space. Second, I’m a full time employee, so I am entitled to a private workspace (especially in light of the fact that you are never here at the same time as the people you share with). It’s in my contract, you can check. Third, I outrank you. I have a master’s degree to your GED. Yes, I’m 30 years younger than you are, but we all make choices in life. It wasn’t my choice to get knocked up in 1968 and then take a low paying job at the library that you have kept for the past 37 years. We all make choices and I guess you made yours. Also, I have way more work and way more responsibility than you. You might think that checking books in and out and getting them to the right place on the shelf is hard work, but guess what it’s not. If you want to do the budget sometime, or deal with the patrons who don’t want to pay their fines, then we can talk about a challenge. Until then, shut up and do your damn job!
To anyone else I have forgotten: If you’re not sitting quietly reading a book, magazine or newspaper, or using the Internet to do homework or research, chances are I hate you too. I’m not going to go out of my way to help you. Five years of being treated like crap by the general public have seen to that. It’s not personal, you just suck.
So basically if you are a nice, well-mannered person, welcome to the library. I’m glad that you are here. I will bend over backwards to make sure that your information needs are met. If you are a jerk, a pest, a leech, or any other kind of pariah, I will go out of my way to make sure that you leave the building as soon as possible, hopefully with some kind of police escort. You’ve been warned.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Librarian