Public Library Etiquette

by admin on April 10, 2013

I’ve been working in a public library for years now and while some people are great, I’ve noticed more and more people just having really bad manners. I’m hoping if people are willing to post this helpful list more library patrons will start to behave themselves.

1: Before coming to the library – take a bath! I’m always shocked at how many well dressed people with expensive cars (my branch is actually in a ritzy neighborhood so we get many of the upper crust) come in smelling like they just played 30 rounds with Arnold Palmer and bathed in gin. BO doesn’t stand for Beautiful Odor. It stands for BODY Odor. The 60s are over. You’re no longer the hippie you once called yourself. Stop smelling like one.

2: ALWAYS have your library card at hand and ready when you want to check items out, renew items, put things on hold, etc. That includes transactions over the phone. Now my library system is a county wide which means there’s almost 40 libraries connected. Unless it’s a private library in a tiny town, there WILL be at least one if not more people with the exact same first and last name as you. So yeah, looking you up by name is NOT an option. It has to either be your library card or your driver’s license. Period.

3: Clerks are not librarians. We are there to check in and out books and handle the money. I’m actually not suppose to answer reference or computer questions nor am I suppose to leave the desk. So when I send you to the librarian, don’t stand there staring at me. Also don’t call me lazy. If caught helping you by someone from HQ I could actually get in trouble for doing the librarian’s job. I’m not lazy, I’m sending you to the person you need.

4: CONTROL YOUR CHILDREN! I don’t know who that idiot is that claims it’s wrong to discipline children or tell them no, but stop listening to him because he’s wrong! Your children will grow up to be perfectly well balanced adults if you tell them “No! Stop ripping pages out of that book!”

5: I’m sorry, but I’m actually not allowed to accept your invitations to your church. I could get in trouble. Besides, not everyone in the library is a Christian. I mean, I’m Jewish!

6: We’re not suppose to talk religion or politics, actually. So please stop.

7: Our martial status, if we have children, etc is really none of your business. (I’ve actually had people who try to force me to have children. One patron actually said to me “Go to a bar and trick a guy into getting you pregnant” and that “children don’t need a father” IN FRONT OF HIS WIFE AND KIDS! Another when I informed her I can’t have children because usually that shuts people up – and it is true, I’m barren – started trying to convince me to go get medical help. If I want kids, I’ll adopt, thank you very much. And that’s just my experiences. We have other staff members who have been bugged about who they’re dating, when they’re going to get married, etc.)

8: We really don’t want to hear about your or you family member’s medical problems. Please just take your books and stop talking about anal fissures.

9: Yeah, actually we are allowed to have our hair colors like purple, green, etc, and have visible tattoos and piercings as well. So – shut up.

10: You might know your child is autistic, but I don’t. I’m not a psychic baby sitter. Please don’t send your child while you’re gabbing about shoes on your cellphone outside and then yell at me when your child does something like put $20 in the Friends’ box. No, actually, it’s NOT my job to keep an eye on your kid. Autistic or otherwise.

11: See the sign that says you have to smoke 20 feet away from the door? Yeah, 20 feet is a lot further than right outside it.

12: If I’m obviously busy, don’t come up to me saying, “You’re not busy.” (Yes, that’s happened.)

13: If I’m helping someone else, don’t start yelling at me “Isn’t anyone going to help me?!”

14: Don’t yell at staff because you returned your items a month past the due date/sopping wet/chewed by your dog/stained with wine/whatever. You’re the one responsible. Not me. Yelling and screaming and cursing at me is not going to get you out of paying.

15: While we don’t shush people anymore, please take cellphone calls outside and try not to yell and curse.

16: Due to the Freedom Of Information Act we CANNOT stop patrons from looking at LEGAL porn – UNLESS another patron complains. So if you see porn on the computers complain RIGHT THEN. Don’t call me two hours after the fact when the offender is long gone yelling about how if I don’t call the police you’re going to.

17: Maybe in other countries it’s different, but in America we DO NOT keep a record of everything you’ve checked out UNLESS you’ve paid a bill on it. The second those items are checked in they are erased from your record. And no, the government CANNOT see your record any time. They have to get a subpoena and even then we’ll fight it. No one protects your privacy like the library. SO DO NOT KEEP ME ON THE PHONE FOR 15 MINUTES GIVING ME A LECTURE ABOUT HOW THE FBI CAN SEE YOUR RECORD! BECAUSE THEY CAN’T!

18: Keep phone calls brief and to the point. I have other people to serve. I don’t need to hear your life story as to why you need your book renewed. Just tell me to renew it and give me your library card number.

19: If I tell you I can’t renew an item (one week only, it’s on hold for someone else, already at max renewals, etc) don’t yell at me and tell me that I “will renew it and waive all fines because you NEED the item.” Just accept it and move on.

20: For story time, make sure your kids aren’t picking their noses or like one little boy did, randomly sticking his hands down his shorts to pull out his penis. Also don’t push other little kids off the bench. They were there first, lady. (Yes, a grown woman forced a little girl to give up her seat.)

21: Did I mention don’t yell at me? I do my best to be nice and professional. I don’t talk back or get mean or snippy. But yet people scream and yell because of THEIR mistakes. I’m so sick of it. I’ve lost my temper exactly one time in all the years I’ve worked at the library. A woman called just as we were closing and started screaming at my coworker. So loudly and shrilly that my coworker was actually in pain from it. She was constantly pulling the phone from her ear because of this woman’s voice. The woman refused to calm down and give us the card number so we could look up the problem and kept insisting we look up by name. I finally took the phone from my coworker and told the woman off and to call back when we’re open. I’m sorry if you have over $200 in fines. But maybe you should try not checking out 50 books then returning them so far past the due date they’re considered lost! It’s YOUR fault. Not our’s. SO DO NOT FREAKING SCREAM AT US! Frustrated Library Clerk 0409-13


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