The Job

November 3, 2009 at 9:32 pm Leave a comment

One of the many things I love about my job is how varied it is. The “public” part of “public library” means that we see all sorts, and see the best and the worst of people every single day.

A few events in the past two days really brought this home to me. Yesterday I had young woman come up to me to get her library card number, having lost the card. This is a completely normal transaction 99% of the time, but this time was in that 1%. As soon as I looked up her account I could tell there was something seriously wrong. Looking at the notes on her account I saw that there had been issues with reserved items going missing, and materials adding up to almost $800 checked out in February that hadn’t been returned. The notes indicated that we needed to find out what was going on. So I started to ask about what had happened.

As I asked questions the girl became visibly upset. When I asked what her current address was, she told me that she had been kicked out and wasn’t really living anywhere right now. When I asked about the materials that had gone missing, she said that she knew about the items that had been checked out, but her aunt had thrown them all away because “she hates me.” Since there was no chance of anything being checked out or any more reserves getting placed, I gave her the card number to get on the computers, and told her that if she wanted to she could report her aunt to the police for stealing the library materials. That was the best I could do for her under the circumstances, but that was all she really wanted. This poor kid, totally on her own, just wanted to use the library’s computer. As much as her situation ripped my heart out, this is exactly the sort of thing we’re here for.

On the other hand side, today as I was flipping through my tweets I came across two colleagues who were having a back and forth about the sorts of questions we get. Anyone who works in libraries can totally connect to these sorts of questions:


What’s really scary is that interactions like this actually start to make sense. To the point where you can probably figure out what the customer is actually looking for:


I love my job.

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Entry filed under: Library.

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