Thanks for the heads up

For some reason I seem to get a lot of people giving me more information than I really need. It’s not just at work, it must be some kind of genetic defect. I attract people who are a little off. This makes working at the library just a little more interesting.

The circulation desk, so you know, is divided in to two halves. One side is for checking things out and the other is for returns. Both have signs indicating which is which but, odd as it may sound, most people who come in to the library don’t like to read things. So I spend a large portion of my day directing people to the right counter.

Some people slip through before I can say anything.

Yesterday a woman and her friend came up to the counter with a return. Before I could say anything about the returns counter she cut me off.

“This book might be a little over due.”

If someone wants to know right away and pay their fines, it’s just as easy to do it at whichever counter they’re at rather than sending them off somewhere else first so I checked it in. It wasn’t “a little over due”. It was a lot over due. In fact, it had gone to lost which only happens when you’ve had the book so long that we assume you’re never coming back.

“If there’s a charge, that’s fine because I’m not paying it.”

I tell her that it was lost. The replacement charge will be removed because she brought the book back but the late charge is $16.

She huffs at me. Never a good sign.

“Well I’m not paying that.”

I’m not exactly sure what she wants me to say.

“I’m going to make an appointment to talk to someone about that and have that charge removed. I’m not paying that fine.” She snaps at me. You know, because it’s my fault. “Who would I need to talk to?”

I give her my supervisor’s name. “I can get her for you now, if you like.”

“No. I’ll make an appointment.”

That isn’t necessary. She’s here, now, no appointment necessary. But I give her my supervisor’s card.

“No one even contacted me to tell me that the book was overdue until yesterday. I’m not paying that fine.”

That. right there, would be a load of nonsense. We send out notices regularly. I know we do. It’s one of my jobs. And even if she didn’t get her notice, we tell you when the book is due back when you take it. I would love to know where people got this idea that if we don’t specifically call you, send you notice after notice and in every other way coddle you along the way to make sure you actually bring your items back on time, that some how it’s our fault you’re incapable of bringing your items back on time. That you’re then exempt from paying fines accumulated past the day we specifically stated the books must be returned by.

How, exactly, do you think that works? Hmm? Grow up.

“Well I’m afraid you’ll need to discuss that with my supervisor.”

She turns around, stalks off and says to her friend “Well I moved a while ago…”

Oh good. You moved, more than likely didn’t inform us you moved, we sent your notices to the old address we have on file and yes, that’s right, it’s our fault.

Some people make my head hurt.

-Late Fines.

Published in: on July 25, 2009 at 6:23 pm  Comments (5)  

Well in that case, still no.

“I’m looking for this book but it says that it’s not here.”

“Let me check.” It’s signed out, so no, it’s not here.


“I can put a recall on the book and have someone contact you when it comes in.”

“I only need to see it for a second.”


“Can you just give me the guys phone number so I can call him?”

“…” Seriously? Are you shitting me? How would you feel about me giving him your number if this were reversed? “No.”

“But I just need to see it for a second.”

“The best I can offer is to have the book recalled and call you when the book is returned.”

“How long will that take?”

“The recall shortens the borrowing period to two weeks.”

“Two weeks is the end of the semester.”

“I’m sorry, that’s the best I can do.”

“You can’t just give me his number? I only need to see it for a second.”


“When is it due back?”

“Next Monday.”

“I only need to see it for a second.”


“So that’s it then?”

“It will be back on Monday. If you put a hold on it, we’ll call you when it gets here.”

“I only need to see it for a second.”


After a minute of standing there staring at me, he finally left. I had to laugh after he left.

The guy I was working with looked at me.

“Did he really think I was going to hand out his phone number?”

“Holy shit! That’s what he wanted?”

Yeah… he only needed the book for a second. *sigh*

-Late Fines.

Published in: on July 19, 2009 at 1:00 am  Comments (5)  


Despite the movie stereotype, the library really isn’t all that quiet, the librarians rarely, if ever, shush anyone and honestly with so many people coming and going all day it would be impossible to keep it quiet for very long. The library itself isn’t even that quiet. In the morning, before the doors open, the heating and cooling systems drone on constantly and when they flick the escalators on there’s no hope of it being quiet again until they’re turned off at the end of the day. We all do our best to keep the volume at a reasonable level, but there are limits.

That isn’t good enough for some people.

Paging is one of those jobs that gets boring quickly. At the main library there are always a few pages working at once. They work together as a team. So a good part of the day is spent talking about whatever while they work.

I know. I did it for four years.

Talking keeps us sane and makes the work go by faster. We know that it’s a library. We work there. So we try to chat quietly.

One evening I was working with a friend of mine and we were, as per usual, talking. Honestly, I don’t even remember what we were talking about. We were doing pick up (which means shelving all the used magazines and newspapers, mostly) so chances are good that we were talking about whatever was on the cover of the weekly gossip mags or complaining about the paper junkies who make the same mess every single day. Nothing unusual.

“Excuse me!” Someone hissed at us.

We stopped and looked over at one of our semi-regulars. He’s a middle aged man with thin hair, beady eyes, a paunch and an attitude. No one cares for him much. His demanding tone is a fairly good sign that he’s going to be a problem and he usually is.

“Do you work here?”

He knows we do, he was trying to make a point.

“Because I can’t imagine that you’re allowed to go around talking while you’re supposed to be working!”

Neither of us knew what to say so we just stood there hoping he’d go away.

“I can’t even hear myself think!

We apologized and told him we’d be more quiet. (I should note that he was wearing headphones the whole time we were up there, so how he heard us at all is beyond me.)

“That’s just not good enough! You were interrupting me!”

What more do you say after someone says sorry isn’t enough?

“I think I’m going to take this up with your manager!”

We told him that if he was unsatisfied with our answers, he was more than welcome. She was downstairs. We even give him her name. There are no rules about us talking while we work and he’s been a problem before – the chances of him being taken seriously were slim.

“Fine! I’ll go talk to her!” Trying to be threatening. It wasn’t working. “You shouldn’t be allowed to talk! Talking at work!? Who ever heard of that!? You’re bothering everyone!”

After ranting on for a few more minutes he finally left. I should mention that he managed to work up a volume that was more likely to bother “everyone” than we ever had. We also checked later, he didn’t speak to anyone on his way out.

He did make another appearance a few weeks later tho. During our library book sale. We were selling off books that had been withdrawn from the collection because of damage, newer edition replacements or simply because no one had touched them in twenty years.

He complained at and lectured the girl working for a solid forty-five minutes about how upset he was that we were selling off books. How dare we? People use these books! We can’t just get rid of them! Because the library should keep every single item it has ever had in it’s collection no matter how badly damaged, out of date or unused it may be.

We explained to him several times in numerous ways that if there were books (which he claimed many times) he needed or used on a daily basis (which was an outright lie as 95% of the books had been long withdrawn and had been in storage for months if not years) he was more than welcome to buy them and keep them forever. They were, after all, only about 10 cents a book.

He was, however, having much too good a time complaining.

Some people make the days go so much slower. You know what I mean?

-Late Fines.

Published in: on July 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm  Comments (2)