What They Didn’t Tell You About Being a Librarian

First off, I enjoy my job as a librarian. That hasn’t changed in the 10 years that I’ve been a librarian. So, please excuse some of my snarkiness below. It’s the Friday before Spring Break (but we all know that most librarians don’t get a Spring Break) and I needed a little fun! Here’s a list of 10 things they didn’t tell you about being a librarian. These have all happened to me, or at a library I have worked at:

  1. Asking a patron to stop licking the computer monitor when viewing images of French figure skater Surya Bonaly.
  2. You should probably memorize all of the books by their color because that’s what patrons will ask for. “Do you have that green book? You know…the big one!”
  3. How to get the following animals OUT of the library: bats, snakes, robins, frogs, and yes–a roadrunner.
  4. How to ID a peeping tom in the book stacks. And making him leave when the security officer doesn’t do his/her job.
  5. That someone ALWAYS wants to photocopy something the minute before closing.
  6. When a patron is asking for books on “poultry,” he may actually mean “poetry.”
  7. That senior citizens sometimes just call the library because they’re lonely. This makes me sad.
  8. You need to de-lice the library headphones.
  9. The Robert Mapplethorpe books always ends up in the men’s restroom and you will sometimes need plastic gloves to retrieve them.
  10. Are you allowed to keep the alcohol you find in the library? Kidding! Seriously, I’ve found everything from beer cans to Jack Daniels, and even vermouth! But I suspected the vermouth to be from a library co-worker (what college kid drinks vermouth?).

Have something to add to the list? Please share!

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20 thoughts on “What They Didn’t Tell You About Being a Librarian

  1. You WILL find a used condom at some point in your career, no matter the kind of library where you work.

  2. What to do when a patron complains about another patron farting in a small reserve room. How’s that for a first day on the job? :-)

    • Ack! What a way to start a new job!

    • First week on the job in my current position…patron was fartin’, burpin’, sittin’ with his shoes off and feet propped up on an ottoman in our Quiet Reading Room. Other patrons complained and I asked him to please sit elsewhere. He asked why, and I mentioned that we had received complaints that he was burping and passing gas…loudly and nasty smelling (I just decided to ignore the lack of footwear.) He became irate and demanded to speak to the person in charge (that would be me). What a ruckus.

  3. I’m at the library right now as I type. Suddenly I feel suspicious of all of those around me.

    A roadrunner? I’m guessing it didn’t take an Acme product to get him out.

  4. in reference to the Mapplethorpe book, we had a book on seduction go out on ILL. It went to a prison, i am happy to loan to prisons! However, the book came back sticky! yes, sticky…and me with no gloves. enjoy your spring break, at least my library was quiet for a week and i got some cataloging done!

  5. First week in the school – a 6 year old cried because he had “read all the books in the library and there was nothing more to read”! Really sobbed! Could anything have prepared me for that?

    Thanks for the delightful list.

  6. Pingback: Sunday Selection: a Mishmash | Going Beyond Survival in a School Library

  7. Late on the uptake here, but!

    1. Finding used cigarettes stored within books.

    2. Catching people using the private study rooms inappropriately. (Yes, there were several instances of intimate actions occurring in our study rooms. All equipment and furniture within that room was thoroughly disinfected after security escorted them from the building.)

    3. Removing lizards and squirrels–always a fun chore.

    4. At one point or another answering the question, ‘Do y’all have books here?’

    • Ah, yes.

      1. And my favorite tax time question – “I need the WD40 form.”
      2. While leaving the reference desk momentarily unattended to perform CPR on an unconscious patron in the stacks, suffering a woman whining “Doesn’t anyone work here?”
      3. Finding a gun that had been lost by a patron.( Actually, a patron left her purse in the library and the Circ staff tried looking for ID so they could call her. Upon finding the gun, they came and got me. A reference librarian will know what to do!. I called the woman, informed her of her loss, and she assured me that “I’m a private detective. I’ve got a license to carry the gun (OK), but I don’t have time to pick it up today. I’ll be in tomorrow (really?).”
      4. The list goes on and on. Some of it funny, some of it very, very sad.

  8. I was glad to find a tiny lizard in my Kansas library! I thought he might eat some crickets.

  9. Had three cookbooks returned that were full of long, dark hair. For a moment I was sure I was in a Japanese horror movie. Turned out that the customer was a hairdresser who let her customers read the cookbooks while she was cutting their hair. …we told her not to do that anymore.

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