11 Ways To Be A Better Library Patron

9. Do not use your phone while speaking to staff.


Library employees are people, too.

This article was originally published with The Odyssey on July 17, 2017. 

I’ve worked at a library for the past four years, and every time I think I’ve seen it all, some library patron comes out of the blue and proves me wrong. Libraries and their employees should not be taken for granted. We are here to help you, not serve you. Here are the top 10 ways to be a better and more respectful library patron.

1. Have your library card or identification on you.

Let us know that you are actually the person you say you are. Also, have it ready so that we can get you in and out.

2. Don’t be that person that comes in five minutes before closing.

Come in tomorrow and we’ll help you with a nicer tone and we will have more time to dedicate to you.

3. Know what you’re looking for.

Have a title or author, please. The description of the book is not enough information for us to locate it.

4. If there’s a problem with your account, don’t talk down to us.

You are more likely to rattle the employee and their nerves instead of resolving anything. Also, be willing to compromise.

5. Know the library policies.

Know when we fine you, where you can eat, and what areas of the library are off limits. Stop acting shocked when you get fined for an item that was extremely late and or lost.

6. Don’t compare the library you’re at to any other library.

You are where you are. Not all libraries operate the same. Different places have different regulations and you have to follow those regulations, whether the other library has them or not.

7. Parents: Computers aren’t babysitters.

Neither are library staff. Watch your children or take them with you.

8. If your child is throwing a tantrum, leave the premises.

Attempting to calm them down is giving everyone a headache, including the other patrons. You can let your child “feel emotions” outside.

9. Do not use your phone while speaking to staff.

This is common decency.

10. Clean up after yourself.

The library is a privilege, not a right. Many libraries don’t allow eating in certain areas, but if you’re going to break the rules, at least clean up after yourself. We have a million other things to do at closing time when we don’t have to clean up your mess.

11. What happens at the library, stays at the library.

Any problems you have with the library, don’t bring them up outside of the library. Library staff who are off duty want nothing to do with you.


Working At A Library As Described By ‘Parks And Recreation’

Libraries can seem like an escape from reality for patrons, but for employees? Well, let’s just say that sometimes we need to use the real world to escape from the reality of the library.

“Hogwarts is fictional. You do know that, don’t you? It’s important to me that you know that.” – Ben Wyatt

This article was originally published for The Odyssey on February 13, 2017.

Libraries are wonderful, magical places where you can escape the trials and tribulations of real life and be welcomed into a world filled with zero limitations. That is, if you attend the library to read. You can also use the computers, study or even attend events like book clubs and workshops. Libraries can seem like an escape from reality for patrons, but for employees? Well, let’s just say that sometimes we need to use the real world to escape from the reality of the library. Here’s what it’s like to work at a library told through ‘Parks and Recreation’.

1. When you have to open or close the library

Between the patrons waiting at the door for you to open at exactly 9 a.m. and the patrons who just won’t leave at 9 p.m., opening and closing are an adventure. Never mind the patrons, the amount of books left in the drop-box at open and close are also crazy.

2. Desk-ing by yourself

Employees have to take breaks, depending on how long their shift is. Sometimes, you have to hold down the fort at the desk alone for a bit when others take breaks. On a Tuesday night, this is a piece of cake. On a Saturday afternoon, however, you better brace yourself. Especially if you’re in the children’s room, and there’s a program going on.

3. Having to answer a phone call that requires a lot of patience

Sometimes when people call the library, they have several questions. Sometimes by several, I mean a few, and sometimes I mean hundreds. Though the reference department mostly answers these calls, sometimes the phone calls end up being dispersed throughout different departments. Lucky us!

4. That end-of-the-day adrenaline rush

No matter what day it is, no matter which department you’re in, you’ll feel the power when it comes near the end of your shift. Though working at a library can be fun, and is definitely rewarding, it can be extremely stressful as well. When it nears the end of your shift, you think about all the stuff you’ll do after getting off work, even though you’ll probably end up Netflix and chilling by yourself.

5. When patrons argue about paying fines

Look, I don’t make the rules, and even if I did, you yelling at me over a fine isn’t going to change the fact that you owe a fine. Let’s get one thing straight: the library is a privilege, not a right, and if you abuse that privilege, you don’t get to use it anymore. Pay your fines and you’ll get your privileges back.

6. When you find a book or fix a problem that no one else could

Not all of the library’s issues are easily fixable. If the book isn’t where it’s supposed to be, I can’t give it to you because I don’t know where it is. If the receipt printer isn’t working, and we’ve already troubleshooted in the ways we know, I can’t give you a receipt because I’m not the receipt printer genie. However, sometimes you find your way by trying the weirdest things, and when you save the day, oh wow, are you a hero.

7. Working in the children’s room like…

It never stops. In the summer, there are more children because parents don’t know where else to take them. During the school year, everyone and their mother need the same biography or the same Reading Olympics book. The screaming children, the bodily fluid stains, the crying, the meltdowns, the running, the injuries and the angry parents just keep on coming.

8. Busy days and quiet days

When it’s boring, time moves more slowly than a snail. The library is quiet and it’s as if the only sound we can hear is each other breathing. Alternatively, when it’s beyond hectic and busy…

I feel this on a spiritual level.

9. Shelf-Reading

We have to keep the library nice and orderly so that we can all locate books whenever we need to. However, when the letters and numbers start to blur together and all of a sudden it’s like you’re reading everything upside down, that’s where shelf-reading becomes the death of you.

10. Maneuvering staff dynamics

There’s often a lot of differently aged people who work at the library. Due to this, there is a lot of butting heads. Some people don’t know how to work technology, and sometimes pages have to teach them while working. There’s also a fair amount of gossip between workers, which doesn’t constitute a healthy work environment anywhere. We receive enough pettiness from the patrons, we don’t need it in staff-to-staff interaction too.