An extremely quiet man approached the desk.
Man [whispering]: “Can you extend my time on the computer?”
Me: “Extend the time on your computer? Which computer are you on?”
Man [almost inaudibly] “Computer D.”
Me [straining to hear]: “D for dog?”
Man [shout-whispering]: “No! D for Dolphin!”
Each week, two employees are assigned break room clean up duty. One of them left this on the break room table today.
A young boy approached the front desk. He comes into the library regularly and is ahead of his age in maturity. He wanted to know where he could find Star Wars books. We have quite a few fiction but also non-fiction Star Wars books. The non-fiction can be about the history and making of Star Wars.
Me: “Are you interested in fiction or non-fiction?”
Boy [long pause, with serious expression]: ”You do realize that Star Wars is fake right?”
Another fabulous entry for the I Work at a Public Library Cast of Characters contest, this one adapted from the story Ear, A Bug in Her:
A boisterous family had been in the children’s area for several minutes when suddenly I heard the mom yell, “THERE’S A BUG! THERE’S A BUG IN HER EAR!” Several staff rushed over.
The woman’s three-year-old daughter had a tick in her ear. My quick-thinking co-worker got a pair of disposable tweezers out of the first aid station. The tick extraction was performed right in the middle of the picture books.
[Please give seavillains a little love for this one! And don’t hesitate to enter your own clever take on an I Work at a Public Library story—I’ll be accepting and posting submissions throughout the month of July to celebrate the release of I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks.]
A 4-year-old girl was standing at my desk tracing letters on a piece of scrap paper while telling me about her pets.
Girl [matter of factly]: “At dinner the cat jumped on Daddy’s lap and stepped on his crotch.”
Me: “That was probably uncomfortable.”
Girl [as she continues tracing letters]: “The cat stepped right on Willie.”
Me: “Cats will do that.”
I called a customer to ask about a DVD they turned in to the library.
Me: “You returned a DVD but the disc didn’t match up with the case. Do you still have the other DVD and case?”
Patron: “I think so but I am in the shower right now, can I call you back when I get out?”
[Hey everyone! Pre-orders of I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks are beginning to ship! Anything you can do to help spread the word about the book is much appreciated. Some of you may not know that I started this Tumblr as a way to keep track of my favorite library encounters—I had no idea that people would actually want to read it and share it and submit their own stories, and I had no idea that it would turn into a book one day. It certainly wouldn’t have been possible without you and the colorful characters who visit the library. THANK YOU! xoxo Gina]
I work in a library on an Army post, where we recently unearthed this old paper patron record from decades ago.
A little kid wandered up to the desk and I overheard this exchange.
Kid: “I lost five dollars in the library.”
Co-worker: “That’s too bad. Well, no one’s turned anything in, but if you check back in a bit, we’ll let you know.”
Kid: “So…can you give me five dollars?”
Co-worker: “To replace the five dollars you lost in the library?”
Co-worker: “No, we can’t do that. It’s kind of against our policy to hand out money like that.”
Kid: “This is the worst library ever!”
A man just came into the library and gave us bunches of zinnias. “For all that you do.” And then he smiled and left.
I was searching for a DVD for a group of younger high school boys when I overheard this conversation between them:
Boy 1 [looking up at our skylight]: “Why do all libraries have tall ceilings?”
Boy 2: “Because libraries are cool.”
Boy 1: “Yeah, libraries are pretty cool places.”
Boy 2: “They’re cooler than people expect them to be.”
Collector, The Mug
Man: “Do you know where the closest 7-Eleven is? But not the one just down the street because they were very rude to me.”
Me [doing a quick Google search]: “Let’s see…”
Man: “Or, let me ask you this: are you a mug expert? I collect these mugs they got at 7-Eleven but if you know somewhere better to go, I’ll go there.”
Me: “I’m not a mug expert, per se, but if you tell me what kind of mugs…”
Man: “I use them as collectibles and I drink out of them. I drink out of them and collect them.”
Me: “Do you know what kind they are or what they look like?”
Man: “It’s too hard to explain. The mugs are for drinking.”
Me: “Oh. Would you like a map to the next closest 7-Eleven?”
Man: “Yes, but not the one down the street because they were very rude to me. Unless you know where else I can buy them. The mugs.”
[Part of our Cast of Characters Contest. Submit today! Thanks to the ultra-fabulous Anthony Taylor for this entry!]
Today I helped a teen girl who was looking for something to read.
Me: “What kind of books do you like?”
Teen: “I want something with lots of cussing. I kind of like the Bluford High books, but they don’t have enough cussing in them.”
So, I Googled “books with lots of cussing” and she was pretty happy with the list I provided.