Friday, September 17, 2010

Patrons of the Month--Or: One Reason Why I'm Not Working THIS Saturday

Last Saturday we had a book sale at the library. Important stuff--sadly, unlike the Pentagon, we don't get more funding than we need and book sale money buys a lot of things our budget doesn't allow for. New tables to replace my broken one in the children's room. Craft supplies for programs. A new printer for the circulation desk. Stuff  like that.

Because we were very short handed, I volunteered to staff the circulation desk for the morning. No big deal, I've been doing circulation work regularly for the last two decades. At my old branch the children's room was downstairs, we were understaffed and I spent most of my time simultaneously being the children's librarian AND the circulation clerk.
Heck, if it weren't for those pesky programs the patrons demanded, I'm sure that our superincompetent circulation manager would have found a way to get my 2 part time circulation clerks upstairs, so that she could have hidden in her office even more, drinking "iced tea"....

Here, we only have one circulation desk and a superCOMPETENT  circulation manager. So working the circ desk is not a requirement, but I help out as needed and  it is a pleasure to do so. Mostly.

Last Saturday was not a full moon--and I don't care what the science behind it is or isn't, we do tend to get a lot of "lunatics" during that period. But SOMETHING was in the air last Saturday.

Our circ manager always ends her monthly reports with a "patron of the month"--sometimes someone wonderful, sometimes someone awful, sometimes someone who is just really screwy.

Well, I have 3 for her to pick from--and had them all within a 2 hour window.

1) An elderly woman who wanted to cash a check. She kept saying her friend wanted to buy things from the book sale and she wanted to give her the money. Why she couldn't just write a check to the book sale, I didn't get.
"I have an account here," she kept saying.
Yes, a LIBRARY account. Not a bank account. Rather large difference......

2) A guy who came in with his daughter to pick up a book on CD she'd asked to be held at the desk. When he handed me his library card to check it out, the computer told me the card's owner had reported that it was being used by someone else and to ask for ID. When I did so, the name's didn't match.

He finally admitted the card was his ex-wife's. He claimed to have an account of his own, but didn't. I ended up making him his own card and kept the one he'd tried to use.

"Oh, you can destroy that," he said.
"No, it's going to get sent to the owner" I told him. And I hope she finds out HE had it.

My boss later told me that someone had gone to our central branch, told them that she'd been out of the country for years and needed to replace her card. When told that her card was out there--and active--they'd put the message on the computer. And apparently for being the person pro-active enough to ask for ID and get the card, I earned a Brownie point or two....

And last, the lady I am now referring to as "Miss Kentucky".

Young blonde. Came in asking for a card. I asked for ID. We need photo ID and proof of local address if the ID doesn't carry it.

Miss Kentucky didn't have her ID. She'd walked (she said) 30 minutes to get to the library, and wasn't carrying any sort of ID.

No ID, no library card. So this chick actually turns to another patron, a total stranger to her, and asks if she will let her use her library card to check out a book!
Patron said no. I shook my head at her to do so, but I think that she would have anyway.

So Miss Kentucky leaves. Returns later, this time with her Kentucky driver's license, but with nothing with a local address!

She tells me that she is a student, that she's working her, that she's only here for a few months. That she has no local ID.

No local ID, no card. I tell her finally that she CAN get a guest card good for 3 months for a $10 fee.
But it (guess what) REQUIRES ID!

I tell Miss Kentucky that she can mail herself a postcard, that that's considered ID since it's gone through the mail and arrived at an address. Or she can bring in a letter from her school, or wherever she's staying, if it's on their letterhead. (We let homeless people do this for special shelter cards too).

Miss Kentucky wants to print out an e-mail. I say that's not sufficient, but if she does, she can show it to my boss when he comes in (he was about to come in) and he can decide if that's okay.

So she wants to use the computer. Fine. But she needs a guest pass. Her ID and $1 fee will get her on.

Somehow that's too much. So Miss Kentucky goes outside to the book sale, frantically looking for what she desperately needs to read, that minute.
A copy of "Harry Potter And the Order of the Phoenix".

Which was not for sale, though I certainly had a copy on the shelf, and she could have spent the day in the library reading it. Which would have been more worth her time than walking back and forth and back and forth...

Several times during our conversation, she said "ma'am (I hate being called ma'am) am I upsetting you? Because you seem like I'm giving you a problem"

"Well, I'm upset because I can't help you and I really want to," I said quickly.
True. But she WAS upsetting me. Because she wouldn't accept that I couldn't do what she wanted me to. Because she kept inferring that it was so mean and nasty of us to want ID before allowing her to take our books out of the building. Perhaps back where she comes from in Kentucky, anyone who walks in is allowed to do so.

But not here. This is the big city. We need ID--real ID.
And anyone who is enough of a meshuggeneh to walk up to a total stranger and ask her to let her use her card to borrow a book for which that stranger would be financially responsible isn't someone I really want taking our books out anyway.

After 2 hours of that, I figured I had every right to unscheduled myself to work this coming Saturday.
Dealing with the girls is always a challenge, but after those loons, it's going to be positively restful.......
Perhaps for the month.
Perhaps for even the year......


Anonymous said...

Enjoy your weekend. You certainly deserve it, and maybe whatever you end up doing will be good for jr, too . There is a never ending supply of crazies: they'll be there when you get back.

The Library Lady said...

My boss was ROTFL when he came in and I told him my tale of woe. He maintains that I attract crazies. And we all get them in the library, but 3 in 2 hours? Sheesh!