How to get good customer service at the library

I am going to impart this knowledge to you now, because I am a giver.

If you are planning a trip to the library and anticipate that you will need more than 5 seconds of help from a librarian, do not go during the hour after the local junior high gets out. You will get less-than-stellar customer service, because that is actually the hour that the librarians morph into babysitters. They will try to help you, but their attention will unavoidably be pulled from you to things like:

Is that group trying to break into the vending machine?
Is that boy stealing DVDs?
What's that noise in the back corner?
What's that other noise in the other back corner?
Is the kid I already told to leave trying to sneak back in?
If I snatch that one girl baldheaded for being such a mouthy little piece of work, will I get in trouble?
Is that group a bunch of friends, or are they ganging up on someone?
Is anyone trying to destroy library property right now?
How many warnings has this group had?
Was that a snowball?
Was that a homemade dart gun?
Is that kid high?
Do I dare leave the desk to find this book or will they kill and eat my coworker while I'm gone?

Yeah. That's what we're kind of focused on right then. So it's really not the time to request a 15-minute individual tour of the audiobooks section. Do you even know what they can DO in 15 minutes? (Picture a school of piranhas and a bloated zebra carcass.) I'm sorry. Come back in an hour and I'm all yours.


Anonymous said... [reply]

I must look into spending some time at your library to learn from the best! Last night (at the southern end of the valley) it was so quiet the librarians were making too much noise!

j said... [reply]

Wait, Jr. High kids are hanging out in a library after school hours? Don't they all have XBoxes and Playstations to hurry home to? Maybe there's hope for America yet.

Nemesis said... [reply]

J, I wouldn't call this "hope," exactly. A good portion of them are latchkey kids who either don't want to go home or aren't allowed to go home until later in the afternoon. The library is just a place to be.

The rest are here to play video games on the Internet.

Desmama said... [reply]

Did you hear about that kid who apparently pulled a gun on a mom at the Park City library just last weekend? Yeah. Another thing to add to your list.

Maree said... [reply]

Hehehehehe....I USED to teach middle school! This brought back such fun memories. Our kids wouldn't enter a library if their lives depended on it though. They either were rushing off to steal from the mall (the lingerie pages from the Sears catalog were favorite theft items), or they were rushing home to video games.

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

Dearest Nem,

I have only known you for a couple of years, but it has been long enough that I will never dare ask a librarian for help again.

WV: Comotin. "Hey you dang-blasted kids! What's all the comotin!"

Miranda said... [reply]

Just ONE more reason I'm glad I'm not a PL librarian.
Don't get me wrong, I [love]the idea of prepubescents using the third-place and all, causing havoc in the stacks, and academics certainly have their moments, but it is a heroic task you PLLs take on. Day. After. Day.

Giggles said... [reply]

I actually hung out in the library after school when I was in junior high. It was right next to the school and my mom would still be finishing up her stuff at the elementary school.

I read books on candle making. I read Dickens. I read every book they had on parakeets to convince my parents to get me some for Christmas (it worked).

But then the BYU library is also my personal Mecca. So I have a thing for libraries.

By the way, what was the noise in the back corner?

Jill said... [reply]

I wish the librarians at my library were babysitters. I was at the Harlem library and some punk teen using the library for myspace stole my hat when I put it down to look for a book.

Jenny said... [reply]

Our 'tweens' used to hang out at the local convenience store until the owners got wise and posted a sign on the door that said "ONE student in the store at a time" Maybe libraries should limit the number of middle schoolers allowed in there at one time, too. I'm afraid to go to our library between the hours of 2 and 5 pm.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Jenny, I've actually had coworkers suggest that. "The stores get to do it!" But I think with us being a public building and all it might not fly. And then you know some nice kid who need to do homework would be shut out because some punk was already here. Le sigh . . .

April said... [reply]

This is /exactly/ what the public library is like directly after school lets out. I really need a new job.

april said... [reply]

duly noted. my new favorite time to go to the library is 8 pm on wednesday night. then the librarians are very calm and even up for chatting.

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