Sunday, April 26, 2009

5 Easy Steps to Becoming a Better Library Patron

So, BEDA is going to be over in just FOUR days. And I am obviously not caught up. But my goal is to get a couple more blogs in before the month is over, and so I am allowing myself another quick one, to help with numbers.

  1. 1. Do not re-shelve your books. No, really. Just don't do it. I know it seems counter intuitive BUT you have to trust me, it's really much better if you don't. You need reasons? Well fine. Reason A) You're going to put it back wrong. No, seriously. I know you know Library of Congress/Dewey Decimal/your alphabet. I know that the space you took it from is STILL RIGHT THERE. I don't care. You're still more likely to put it the wrong place than I am, and if you do, then we're SO EFFED. Reason B) EVEN IF you shelve it right, you're still doing us no favors, because part of how we keep track of a given book's popularity/usefulness is by how many times, inside the library, it's picked up and moved around. Here in MIT's Ivory Tower, we track it electronically with little portable scanners. Out in Public Library Land, where there is no funding/staff to be had, dedicated librarians, like reader Anna, keep track of it off hand. So, guideline number 1: leave shelving to the professionals.
  2. Card first. THEN books. I know this one is tricky, and I CONSTANTLY get it wrong myself, because you can't *get* your card while your hands are full of books, so I'm prepared to be patient while you put your books down and dig out your wallet. That doesn't mean, however, that I want you to hand me the book and then stare at me like a brainless lump for 15 seconds until I prompt you "Your card, please." And it also doesn't mean that I won't like you better if you approach the desk, card in hand, like a library pro. So, guideline number 2: Be my favorite patron, and give me your card first.
  3. In the same vein: if you're looking for a specific book, come to me with the necessary information to find it. Don't tell me you know the title when I need the call number. Don't tell me you remember the color of the book when I need you to tell me the author. If you don't have the pertinent information, go look it up. The computers are over there reserved for JUST THAT PURPOSE. Go use them. And don't glower at me or sigh aggrievedly when I tell you to. If you are really old, or nice but in a huge hurry, then I might do you a favor and look it up for you. But otherwise, don't ask me. In summary: Know the call number or similar for any book you want me to help you find.
  4. Remember: I am a circulation staff worker, not an IT person. I know a certain amount of useful information about how to use all the electronics devices we have in our library-- yes, even the microfiche reader, as much as I hate and fear it. However, if any of them break, there is only so much I can do about it. Beyond your basic, computer-neophyte Ctrl+Alt+Del, unplug-it-and-plug-it-back-in-to-see-if-the-problem-goes-away type diagnostics, I'm pretty much no good to you. If the situation requires something more complex, odds are you're out of luck, because if I'm here it's usually because more important people (like our IT guy) have gone home. If this happens to you, DO NOT GIVE ME LIP. ESPECIALLY not if you're an outside user.[1] I am genuinely sorry that our technology has failed you, but I do need you to understand that fixing it is not my job. So, if something breaks, remember: it's not my fault, don't yell at me.
  5. Please, please, please: don't argue with me about your late fees. I don't care if you thought you could renew your books, and didn't bother to check until the last possible minute. I don't care that the courtesy notice "never came"-- it's a COURTESY to remind you of the date your books are due, not an obligation. Unless you had a legitimate medical emergency or otherwise, I am not likely to waive your fines, ESPECIALLY if you act like a dick about it. You get these books for free, but you get them with the obligation of keeping track of them, and returning them on time. When you don't, you pay a TINY FINE. Suck it up. Pay your fine, and don't complain, or return your books on time.
So, there you have it folks. Five easy steps towards improved relations with your local circulation monkeys. If all these fail you, please keep in mind: gifts of candy are always appreciated.

[1] This is MIT-speak for someone who isn't a card carrying member of the MIT community. Mostly, these people are crazy/homeless/crazy AND homeless, and generally here exclusively for the access to free internet, which they occasionally attempt to use to watch porn.


shecaptain said...

Hmm, someone having a bad day at work? I remember writing a blog post very similar to this after a hard day in the super market. It's amazing how rude some people can be.

Graves said...

in my experience, everything is a little better if you stick a knife in the patron's spleen...just a thought

Kasey said...

This makes me SO happy.... And IT IS SO TRUE.

Namlhots said...

Oh jeepers, I feel like such a shmuck. Several months ago, I thought I read that you were going to stop blogging. I was a little disappointed, I considered your random once-a-month thoughtsongs like a special dessert of red velvet cake with strawberry frosting.

Now I discover I misread your blog and you've been blogging away since then and even mentioned me in the title to a post. At least, I think it was me. So, like the stack of backed up issues of the New Yorker I've been catching up. And now I have a recipe for real RVC with SF.

Congratulations on the upgrade to the Hayden. The Sloan did have that secret spook room, but Hayden has the views. It is my favorite library at MIT, always the quietplace of choice when I was an inside user.

More cake!Best,
SB Tom

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