Post Holiday Reference


2019 is dead and buried. It’s time to return to work. Both Holly and I return to work tomorrow ready to help patrons cope with our new year. Before the week is out, at least 10 people will comment that they are still using 2019. I will be wondering what day it is probably for at least a week due to crazy schedules and holidays.

For those of us in public libraries, summer reading will start kicking into high gear and many of us will be writing annual reports for the library. It really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Here are some typical reference desk scenarios you can expect on your return to work.

  • Weather themed questions including snowfall, accuracy of weather reports. Generally, this involves a discussion about how the weatherman “lied” when he said we would only get 3 inches of snow, and it ended up being 6 inches.
  • When are the tax forms coming? Bonus points for complaints about the changes in the forms. More bonus points if patron talks about conspiracies and invokes a constitutional amendment.
  • My kids gave me a ________ . (e-reader, tablet, i-phone, etc) Can you show me how to use it? Bonus points if there is a family drama story associated with this gift.
  • My teenager needs to have 100 hours of volunteer time before the end of January. Can he start tomorrow? Bonus points if parents insist s/he be given “interesting” duties since s/he is gifted. Also points if the parent wants to volunteer with the teen.

So to all our friends out there in library land, good luck out there. If weeding is one of your resolutions for 2020, be sure to send us the ugly, scary, funny, and outdated of your finds.

Yours in library service,

Mary and Holly





  1. Have a great year, and good luck with your challenging patrons! While I doubt there are many hidden gems in my library (thanks to the wedding mantra you provide), I always look forward to seeing your posts. Happy 2020!

  2. Another favorite of mine:

    * Patrons complaining that their books are overdue, and/or their held items got sent back to the owning library because they sat on the holdshelf for too long: because the holidays messed up their mental calendar, and/or the weather is so bad that they didn’t feel like leaving home for several days in a row.

  3. After reading your review, I just can’t believe that our (relatively) up-to-date library system features three copies of Don’t be that girl.

  4. Patrons complaining – for several minutes at least – about the weather, difficulties getting to the library (Possibly because of the weather), their health, and how rude people can be. (Again, possibly blaming the weather for either or both). All before actually getting to the question(s) they came to the reference desk to ask.
    Bonus points if there are other patrons waiting but you can’t get a word in edgewise to a) ask the complainer what they actually want or b) say “I’m happy to listen to you, but could I just quickly help the person(s) behind you first?”

  5. My start of 2020 fun: just weeded the book “Future” (featured on your blog several years ago; I was not in this library when that book was featured, so I’m not taking the blame). It has a wonderful 2-page spread called “Virtual Home in 2020.” Some things are not too far off (I guess we do have video mobile phones and watches that can receive messages), but our library staff is anxiously awaiting our massage couches and holographic homework help devices. We have decided we can live without the full body scanners in our showers that automatically transmit medical information to our doctors.

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