“A library without an atlas?”

A woman walks into a bar… oh, sorry, that’s another story… a woman walks into a library and says “Do you have an atlas?” It’s a library I’m working in and we don’t have an atlas in either the adult or children non-fiction sections. I tell her I can use the internet to find whatever she wants, though. She tells me she knows London like the back of her hand, but she wants to know more about the streets around Battersea. I also show her the Rough Guide to London and the Lonely Planet guide to London.

That was yesterday, so I have a sense of deja vu when she walks into the library again today, with the same question. She realises it’s me again, so in a very loud voice she says “A library without an atlas? It’s a disgrace! I’m going to write and complain!” I repeat what I said yesterday about finding whatever she wants on the internet and printing it out for her. “And then you’ll charge me 10p for the print out!” she complains. I feel like laughing as I tell her that in this case, as we don’t have an atlas, we can waive the printing charge. (Meanwhile S*, who I’m working with today, but who wasn’t here yesterday, has taken up one of the London guides from the shelf.) It turns out our customer wants to see ‘Battersby’ as well as Fulham, Bexleyheath, etc. I locate all the places on Google Maps and show them to her on the screen, then do a screen print and crop it a bit so only the bits she wants will be printed. She seems happy with the print out (at last!).

Our colleague who has resigned comes in to say goodbye and tells us her reasons for resigning. It’s as I predicted, a personality problem, but not the one I’d thought of. She also helpfully tells me one of the questions she thinks I’ll be asked at the interview, about a reluctant child, and when S* asks how she knows, the reply is something rather uncomplimentary about the interviewers. Watch this space!

Our lunch time cover doesn’t show up. It’s the same person who did show up last Saturday. S* reports it and then she takes half an hour for lunch while I man the library alone, and then she does the same for me. It’s Saturday lunch time so quiet, and our lunch time is uneventful — but I’m happy to have a shorter lunch and get paid for an extra half an hour’s work!

We have also had 3 boxes of ‘Direct Delivery’ in and I’m allowed to unpack, check, discharge and display the new books — one of my favourite things! I immediately pick 4 of the new books to take home to read myself! I ask S* if it’s OK to stick the little “I’m new” bookmarks in the not-so-new books that I re-shelve, as I did in Horfield (which she noticed) and she says yes. It means we can easily see where our new books are on the shelves, rather than losing them in the rest of the stock.

There’s an Indian family that come in every Saturday afternoon to return their pile of 10 children’s books and take out another 10 (then they know how many they have!). There is often a curry smell on the returning books. Today the family have brought a friend in, and while the mothers are chatting, the two little girls start running around the library and making a noise. S* doesn’t say anything (and there aren’t many people in the library) but I remember J*’s Health & Safety comments, so I go up to the little girls and tell them to be careful when they run round the shelves, in case they run into someone behind them and hurt them. That’s enough for the mothers to tell them to stop running and quieten down!

I’ve managed to tidy away all the boxes and wrapping paper from the new books by the time we close. It’s still sunny and warm outside. I’m looking forward to reading my new library books!

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