Friday, June 13, 2014

5 Ways The Public Annoys Me (Library Employee)

I have worked in several libraries (public, school, and private). I'm always happy to see people coming into the library, reading, and generally using this community resource. However, I am a public servant so I do interact with the public on a daily basis and people tend to believe they are special.

Here are ways that (in general) people most annoy me and my library staff on a regular basis:
  1. I don't have a library card but I need to get on the computer to print something really quick. Library staff have heard this, every variation of this, since the dawn of computers. We've seen the criers and the screamers, the disbelievers and the bribers. Sometimes we feel for you, sometimes we don't. The problem is we can't do it. By policy, we are not allowed to put you on a computer if you are not a library member. And, unless we hand you our personal library card and tell you the pin number, we cannot log you in anyway. We have to have a barcode and pin number to enter to get onto the computers. We have given you the options, paying for a visitor/replacement card or visiting the computer place down the street (which will also charge).
  2. I couldn't return my stuff on time because I had to blah blah blah and by that time you guys had closed. Wow. That sucks because we super don't care. Unless someone died, we won't and can't do much beside apologize to you for you on your behalf. You could have put the stuff in the drop box out front, which is what that box is for. We back check it to the last day we were open, which means you could literally turn the materials into the drop box two minutes before we open on Monday morning and we will check it in as if it were still Friday. You could have also renewed your materials online, called an open library, called our 1-800 number, or came inside to renew the books any time we were open. Also, library fines are typically nominal like $.25 a day so . . . sucks.
  3. You should have told me my stuff was overdue! You should have called me! Ugh, no. No, I shouldn't because we have literally thousands of patrons and at least a hundred of those have stuff overdue everyday. No, I'm not calling you. No, you are not special. Besides, that is your responsibility. You could have checked the due date online, you could have called into any open library in the system, you could have come into the library and asked. And, for God's sake, we stamp the due date on the inside of the books! Now pay the fine so we can buy more books that you won't return on time.
  4. I know you're closing in five minutes, but I really need to print something and the computers are shut down! Can you turn them back on for me? The computers shut down 10 minutes before we close and so does the Wi-Fi. Chances are your library staff does not have the ability to turn it back on. It's remotely shut down by IT.
  5. You closed just one minute ago but I want to check out a book/use your bathroom/ask you questions/return something that can't be put in the bookdrop. I can still see you inside. Why won't you open the door for me? The quickest and easiest answer is: We won't help you because we want to go home. We are mostly salaried employees so those few minutes you want to take will be on our own dollar. Also, we can't open the doors and let people into (what is actually) a government building after closing time. Usually the register is open because we are doing cash reports and securing the day's money. Libraries do get robbed for our chump change. It's not safe for you or us, and it is against policy. Please just go home.

We are not doing what you want because:
  • You are not special.
  • We literally have no control over the situation.
  • It is against policy.

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