Friday, September 02, 2005

Libraries from the library employee point of view

From libraries for dummies, some horror stories about the dummies:

Much to my horror, I realized it was September 1, all too late to call in sick. For non-library folk, September is the month we designate National Library Card Sign-Up Month, and we go all-out to get new (and not-so-new) community members to come in and get a library card. To me, this is the same as inviting strangers with undiagnosed mental disorders to join an established group therapy session and hope that there aren’t any surprises. At least with our normal basket-cases, I know what to do and how to handle them. Whenever I see a new face, I try to analyze their behavior with my copy of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) under the desk, looking for symptoms and making a quick diagnosis so I know how to proceed.

You don’t know what an art it is to be able to successfully work with the public unless you do it. They do not teach this stuff in school! ....


As library director, I always got these people after they had been driven into a frenzy-by us, by themselves, or by some other library in our 60-libraries-and- counting system. The staff was super-nice, but some patrons were dropped on their heads several times before they got to me. They just had continual bad luck with us--the same people, over and over. The book they had reserved was not in; they had returned the book we were billing them for; they had trouble with the copy machine; they were sick and talking to us made them sicker.

I just sat there and let them empty their toxic wastes on my head; then I apologized and said I would look into it. Usually that sufficed.

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