I work at a public library and I love my job. But sometimes our patrons make the job tougher than it has to be. I recently asked my fellow librarians to help me come up with a “wish list” of things, big and small, serious and frivolous, that you can do to make your favorite librarian happy.
So what can the library-going public do to help us better serve our patrons and enjoy our jobs?
Greet me before launching into your request. You don’t have to ask how I am. Just say “Hello.”
Your library card? Don’t leave home without it.
Return everything on time. Or pay your fines with a smile.
Keep the phone calls, food and drama outside.
Put away your phone when you’re talking to me.
Don’t put your trash in the book drop.
Say Please and Thank You.
Push in your chair after you use the computer.
Don’t come to the library if you have a contagious illness. We love our patrons, but not their colds.
Keep in mind that librarians are only human. When we make mistakes, don’t scream at us. Instead, try to be forgiving.
Caregivers? Stop gabbing with each other during story time, and participate in the songs and stories with your children.
Learn to use the catalog computer.
Wait your turn instead of interrupting me when I’m helping somebody else.
Stop looking at porn on our public computers.
Don’t snap your fingers to get my attention. I’m not a dog.
Cake. Never underestimate the power of Cake. Librarians love cake.
Never apologize for bothering me when you ask a reference question. It‘s not a bother. It‘s my job.
Don’t go ballistic when we won’t let you check anything out without your library card or ID.
Supervise your kids. Don’t let them run wild. It’s a library, not a playground.
Walk over to speak to me. Don’t yell from across the room.
This isn’t Match.com. Stop hitting on library staff.
Don‘t slip the dog training book that Fido chewed up into the book drop and hope we won’t notice the damage. Fess up. Say “I ruined this book and I’d like to pay for it.”
Please refrain from discussing your religious or political beliefs with me.
Ask with a fully formed question. Don’t just walk up to the reference desk and blurt “London” or “Aztecs.”
Don’t EVER call me “girl.”
Bathe. And for the Love of Pete, brush your teeth before leaning in to ask me a reference question.
Don’t ask me to show you how to use the photocopier when what you really want is for me to do your photocopying for you.
Please please please don’t re-shelve the books!! That’s our job, and we’re happy to do it.
Don’t wear so much perfume. I can’t help you if I can’t breathe!
Don’t use risqué photos, marijuana, condoms or strips of bacon as bookmarks. (Or, if you must, please remove them before returning the book.)
Communicate with me using words, not grunts or blank stares.
Have I mentioned that librarians really enjoy cake? Especially during National Library Week.
When you phone to renew a book? Have your library card number ready, not downstairs in your wallet or out in the car.
Respect my space. You don’t have to lean over my desk to ask me a question.
Don’t come into the library unless you’re at least kind of sober.
Before you glare at me for talking too loudly to a patron, consider that the patron I’m talking to might be hard of hearing.
Clean up after yourself when you leave. Don’t make us pick up your dirty tissues, candy wrappers and coffee cups.
Don’t expect me to bend the rules for you. (Or call me rude names when I won’t.)
Don’t come in to apply for a new library card two minutes before we close.
Stop stealing our DVDs.
If you’ve registered for a program, please show up!
Leave promptly at closing time. Don’t make us all wait around while you finish your last minute photo-copying.
Smile and be kind, to both people and library materials.
Write the library a check during the fund drive, advocate for library funding, tell everyone how much you love the library and come back often. We wouldn’t be here without you.
And if you take the trouble to write us a thank you note or bake us cupcakes? It will make our day.
Happy National Library Week from your local librarian!
(Roz Warren is the author of OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR.)