I’m digesting my angus burger (medium-rare with pepperjack cheese), french fries, cabernet sauvignon, and coffee, also known as the dinner of champions. Now it’s time to relax and deconstruct my day.
In the morning, our former regional librarian stopped by the branch. He was looking for several books which he couldn’t find on our shelves even though the catalog said they were available. I couldn’t look up the books in the catalog at that moment because I was shelving in my section which is waaaaaay on the other side of the building from the computers thanks to the brilliant concept of merging information and circulation desks. So all I could give him were theories as to why the books that were supposed to be available weren’t really on our shelves at all:
Theory #1: These were books from our old building, whose records were supposed to be wiped out of existence (or at least deleted) after we opened our new building. Well, GUESS what happened!!!
Theory #2: These were brand-new books that are sitting in a box that is waiting to be unpacked in our office. If you think that having these new books display an “available” status BEFORE WE’VE EVEN OPENED THE FRIGGING BOX, AND FOR THAT MATTER BEFORE THE BOX HAS EVEN BEEN DELIVERED TO OUR BUILDING is ridiculous … well, then you and I are on the same page, Dear Readers. Unfortunately, you and I aren’t the ones making these decisions.
So after I explained my theories, he responded by saying that it was “f—ing ridiculous” and said that he’d wasted his time coming to the library.
And then I felt very low indeed.
I spent a good deal of time shelving today, which at least got me away from the time-sucking vortex that is the information/circulation desk. And BTW, my highly logical plan of dealing with patron traffic at the desk by saying, “Can I help the next person checking out, please?” has a major flaw. The flaw being that patrons will do what they damn well please, no matter what I say.
I ask if anybody has an information question … and I get no response. Then I ask to help the next person checking out, and somebody comes up to my desk, dumps a pile of books and DVDs in front of me, and says, “checking in.” And I’m like … wait … did you not hear me, or did you not care what I said?
Tangential question: Is this what happens at department stores when an employee calls out, “Can I help the next person using a credit card, please”? Do people just ignore what they say and walk over with cash instead?
So anyway, then I get trapped in a vortex of I want to return this item, and renew this item, and return all of these items but I don’t remember which items were checked out with which card, and I don’t remember my PIN number, and my son doesn’t remember his PIN number, and my son has an item checked out on his card that he doesn’t think he checked out at all but it might be in the pile of books in his room at home, and before I know it ten minutes have passed and I have a LINE of people with information questions waiting for me while the clerks are twiddling their thumbs and waiting for customers. So like I said, being away from the desk for periods of time has its advantages. People who actually have an information question come and find me in the stacks, people who need to check in / check out / change their PIN numbers have people at the desk who can help them, and my books actually get shelved (did I mention that we only have ONE page, and she’s on vacation?). I never saw the advantage of “roving reference” before now, but if it’s a choice between roving and getting sucked into the vortex, I’ll take roving. All that walking around gets a little hard on my feet and my back, though. Oof!
Today while I was in the children’s room I dealt with a woman who had the attention span of a moth, who was the mother of a kid with the attention span of … uhm … an even younger moth. The mother is telling me that she’s leaving one of her kids at the library while she goes to pick up her other kid. One the one hand, this is bad because it’s actually in the library rules that you’re NOT supposed to leave your kids in the building unsupervised. On the other hand, MOST of the kids in the library are unsupervised, so one more latchkey kid is just a drop in the ocean. But the part of the discussion that was worse was that she was convinced that we were either going to let her kid use our phone, or we were going to use our phone to call her on the kid’s behalf, which we don’t do. I have no idea why so many parents think that the library provides free phone service for their kids, but they do.
I mean, when *I* was a kid, I always carried emergency money for a cab and emergency money for a pay phone. And if I decided to spend that money on an afterschool snack, well, then I’d better not have an emergency!
But I digress.
Anyway, I THOUGHT I’d explained the library’s policy on phone use to her. But based on the call I got a few minutes later from my supervisor upstairs asking what I’d been telling our patrons about using our phone for emergencies, apparently that conversation didn’t take. Hoo-Boy.
And THEN I met her son, and the reasons for her concern became a little clearer. He kept asking me questions, and then either not waiting to hear my answers, or else listening to my answers and then ignoring them completely. Our spirited back-and-forth exchange about what the copy card acceptor was used for (accepting copy cards) and what it was NOT used for (accepting library cards) lasted about five minutes but took about five hours off of my life. It didn’t help that he kept saying, “So I can put this in here?” and REACHING to put his library card into the copy card acceptor over and over again, when I know from experience that those machines are surly and tend to get stuck if you put the wrong card in … well the whole exchange made me feel a little punch-drunk by the time it was over.
Oh, and speaking of punch-drunk, we had a very good turnout for our gaming program this afternoon. We have a Kinect system, and while the kids were trying out a variety of sports games, the most popular game by far was boxing. Even the girliest girls in the bunch (in sundresses and sandals) were choosing that one, which I found both entertaining and surprising. Especially since this week we had mostly girls and they mostly played boxing, and during one of our last gaming sessions we had mostly boys and most of them wanted to play the Dance Party game. Go figure!
Other than that, our day was mostly busy. And crazy. And sometimes even bearable.