Monday, February 8, 2010

The Snarky Librarian

At my library, we have three sets of shelves in the front. The first set of shelves is shorter and has genre fiction (Christian, Romance, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, and Western) and staff recommendations. The middle shelf is taller and hold adult fiction and mystery. And the last shelf is another set of tall shelves with the start of non-fiction.

We have signs hanging above the short shelves that say "fiction." The middle shelves have no sign and we have this misplaced sign for non-fiction that hangs at the start of the shelving for non-fiction.

When people walk in, the first thing they see is the short shelves with the genre fiction. They ALWAYS mistake the sign that says "non-fiction" for the middle set of shelves which contains the books they're always looking for-mystery and adult fiction.

Everyday we have people ask "where are the myseries?" and "where did my Nicholas Sparks books go?" even though the shelves have been this way for over a year now.

Whenever anyone asks these questions, I have to keep my snark side from saying "oh, we got rid of our mysteries and fiction-we only carry Romance now." :)

Ok, librarians (or booksellers, anyone who has a snarky side!) what moments do you have to reign in your snark?


  1. I want to know why so many people show up and expect to check out books without their library card. We can look them up with a photo ID if they have that instead, but people often have neither, or ask if we can look them up because they left it in the car. For their own protection we require one or the other to check out items.

    Are these people showing up at the store with no money and asking if they can still purchase things?

  2. Well I haven't been a working librarian in over a year now, but my biggest pet peeves were the people that just could not believe we didn't call them and warn them that their books were due in a few days. "Well, no one told me they were going to be due, so I shouldn't owe a fine." GRRRR....

  3. At one library, I had someone ask me "Do you got any books?".

    At all the libraries I've worked at there have been patrons who did not read signs. I've learned to expect that people do not read signs and we just have to be patient and answer questions about where things are located even if it is right under their nose with a huge sign. At this time of year, my least favorite question is "Where are the tax forms?". We had signs as well as arrows on the floor that led people to the tax forms and many still needed to be led to the forms. I guess that since we as librarians are supposed to help people find information...

  4. I work at a University, so probably when a Senior comes in and doesn't know how to work the catalog. I hold back the "what have you been using all this time?" comment. The answer will most likely be Google anyway.

  5. As a middle school librarian it is REALLY hard not to be snarky once in a while :o)
    Here are my favorites:

    Mrs. Wishard there are no good books in the library...(seriously??!!)

    Did someone turn my book in?

    It looked like that when I checked it out (yes, because I would check it out to you with half the pages falling out)

    Kids? Adults? I suppose in libraries the distinction between them can blur :o)

  6. Michelle-I HATE that! And they call and ask me to put something on hold and then get all mad when I ask for their card number. I always want to tell the people in line-if you're waiting in line, please have your card ready to check out. I hate when they stand there for five min. and then get up front and have to dig in their wallet for their card.

    Amanda-That bugs me too! Really, they get a print out we tell them-we even send e-mails two days before something is due. They should know.

    Christina-I hate the tax form question too this time of year. Our state forms have gone online this year and people get mad when I can't tell them what form they need. I like to say "I'm a librarian, not an accountant." :)

    Karen-It amazes me how many people still don't understand card catalogs and the Dewey Decimal system-I guess it shouldn't-haha.

    Library Lounge Lizard-Haha-I get asked the "do you have any good books" question too! If my teens ask, sometimes I'll say, "nope, only bad ones." :)

  7. I definitely have a lot of times that I want to be really snarky with patrons - mostly because their questions are never quite what they're asking for...

    "I'm looking for a book."
    I want to say, "Well, that's going to be difficult as we got rid of them all."

    I'm 2nd-ing, but "Where are the good books?!"
    I want to say, "We don't buy good stuff. Just the crap. Sorry."

    "I want something to read."
    I want to say, "I want a pony, but we don't always get what we want."

    I also find it humorous when someone comes in asking for nonfiction. Just nonfiction. Not a specific topic. This happens with fiction too, but not as often. I personally love freaking them out by saying things like, "That entire side of the library is nonfition. Good luck." Depending on my mood, I'll do the silly "reference interview" thing and be a good librarian. but not often :).

    Aren't teens fun?

  8. My favorite questions are about the "blue book" that we use in that class. Seriously. I usually know what they're talking about, but still. I always want to say "next to the purple books and the green books"

  9. Emily-I know, there are so many times I want to be snarky!I also hate the "do you work here?" I want to say "nope, I just sit at this desk for fun everyday!":)

    Melissa-We had a lady ask that once-she was looking for a green book-turned out she wanted the copy of Little Women she had seen at another branch.

  10. We have 20 branches, so sometimes even if a book is in the system, it's not at our branch. People invariably protest "But you're the Headquarters, you should have all of the books." I really want to respond with "Well, if would be pretty hard to fit every single book in this one building!" is it so hard to wait 3 days for a book to get here from another branch?

  11. Angie-I work at the main branch of our system too and I get that a lot. I also have people ask "is that every branch" when I say a book has a hold list. I always think "yep, my computer is magical, I can see the listings at every branch!"

  12. My least favorite question is well, two parts. "What's my library card number?" when they want to get on the internet. "What's my PIN?" which if they use the internet regularly they should know by now. Also, "Can I have a pass?" because they know we give out visitor passes. I answer those questions easily 20 times a day, five to six days a week. Drives me bonkers. I just want to say, can't you remember your card for once?? And how can you forget your birthday!

    Then there are the liars, and I won't even get started on that. Ugh.

  13. For me, it's when someone says "Can I ask you a question?". I just have to reply "You just did." Too many will proceed and say "Can I ask you another?" to which I have to again reply "You just did" and there are those who without thinking will still want to get it right and ans "Can I ask you a third question?" and I will want to just look at them or say "You just did" but I'll just laugh and ask them what they need to know.
    Asking a question about asking a question?!!

  14. Kids these days have no manners so when they come up to us and wave their library cards (to get a pin number to use an internet computer) in our faces without actually ASKING "Hi, can I please use a computer?" we just say "that's a nice card you have there" or something else.

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  16. I also don't understand people who think they can get something without a library card. At our library even a photo ID isn't good enough -it has to be a library card so we can scan the barcode.

    Also when the phone rings and someone starts out with " called me yesterday...". First of all I didn't work yesterday and second there are 16 of us that work here. Don't just assume it was me! As a cataloger I do not call patrons for anything so it was never me.

  17. These comments make me feel less alone in the library world! We constantly have kids asking for "good" books, that "blue book I was looking at yesterday," and just waving cards at our face to get a computer reservation.

    But I think that my favorite question is when kids bring up obscure homework questions. "Where are your books on the inventor of the guitar string?"

    Um...we don't have a book on that because no one has written a book on that. Not a single library in our system (of over 55 libraries!) has a book on him.


    But that's really the teachers, not the poor kids.


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