What the Librarian Heard

librarian heard1

What the Librarian Heard

As we continue our celebration of National Library Week, we are featuring some library or librarian related posts. Gotta love the cover art  on this: check out the sensible shoes and the hair!  I think librarians are naturals for the mystery genre. I haven’t read this one yet but it is on my list to read. It had some nice reviews on Amazon and I love having a librarian protagonist!  Anyone read this one yet?

I think we can all imagine something that the librarian heard or saw for that matter.  Some recent examples:

I was asked to predict the exact weather in Minneapolis late January, since a patron didn’t want to pay for an airline ticket from Detroit if the weather was going to be “bad”.  This led to a conversation that never ended.

Holly was asked by a male patron why he couldn’t attract women. (You probably can guess this answer.)

I have yet to meet a librarian that doesn’t have a good story from library work.  To me, it is that daily patron interaction that makes the job so darn interesting.





  1. The city hall receptionist in the town where I used to work got lots of “What will the weather be like …” calls.
    When I worked in a bookstore, my favorite question was “is it fiction or nonfiction that isn’t true?”

  2. Hmmm. This book doesn’t seem to be available anywhere in New Jersey, according to JerseyCat. I may break down and get it at Amazon…

  3. Maybe it is because I work at an academic library, but thankfully I have never received weather questions. Though i did get a call once asking me if my feet were stinky. That one still perplexes me to this day and it has been at least five years. I and a couple of (female) coworkers have also been asked out sitting at the ref desk.

  4. Am I the only one thinking:

    Librarian, Librarian what do you hear?
    I hear a patron being murdered in my ear.

  5. I work in an Academic Architecture School Library.
    Patron – “Where is your children’s section?”
    Me – :

    However, there is one great books that is on architecture for children that we do own now. Its a real “student who brought in a fussy baby during finals” pleaser.

    Roberto : the insect architect by Nina Laden.

    Trust me, if your an academic library and you get those patrons that bring fussy kids in, it helps to have a few kids books. It has worked every time in my 12 years. Trust me its a situation calmer.

  6. When I worked at a bookstore, my favorite question was “Where is your nonfiction section?” I guess these were people who thought alphabetically, not by subject.

  7. None of those books have spine labels, which leads me to believe that the “librarian” has broken into a bookstore (note the flashlight … she has snuck in at night) and is stealing books. Oh, the depths that budget cuts have brought her to!

  8. Oh, how I love the library stories! We had a book about the Kennedy assassination, and it had been checked out by a couple of third graders. One morning a mother stormed in and slammed the book down on the circulation desk and insisted that the book should be withdrawn (“banned”) from the collection because it was too gruesome for a third grader. No sooner did she leave than another mother walked in carrying another copy of the same book. My aide and I looked at each other with dread. Happily, the second mother praised the book to the skies. She couldn’t say enough good things about it and thought it should be required reading for every third grader in the nation.
    (By the way, whoever designed the cover art for this librarian mystery should be sunk in quicksand. Can you say “perpetuate a stereotype”?)

  9. The comic strip “Pearls Before Swine” had an entire week where the cynical character Rat took a job working at the information desk at a library.

    It started with “Don’t tell me YOU’VE got a question, too” and went “downhill” from there:
    “Excuse me, I’m looking for a book.”
    “Well, then I guess we don’t have it.”
    “Aren’t you going to help me look for it?”
    “And look for something we don’t have?…… Apologize for your stupidity.”

    Animated clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugctDnyMpUs

    It’s a set of every librarian’s dream answers they wish they could get away with when having a bad day. The series is printed and taped above the computer at which I work (as a volunteer) in the museum library.

  10. “Holly was asked by a male patron why he couldn’t attract women.”

    Zow. There’s one that calls for some delicacy!
    How did you handle that, Holly?!

    My response would be to turn it around and say, “Well, why do you think it is? Then we can see if there are any resources out there that you think might be able to help…(i.e. does he want to become a better dresser, a better conversationalist, a better lover! etc.)”

    That’s still the type of question that requires a break from the desk immediately following it.

  11. A friend of mine worked the information/ pass-through desk at a state university library. A student sauntered up to the desk and asked, “Is this the library?”
    Mike: “Yes, it is. Can I help you?”
    Student: “My professor says I need to come here and get a book, but I don’t see any books.”
    Mike: “You have to come in to find the books.”
    Student (peers around and can’t see the stacks beyond the computer desks and reference librarians) “You sure? ‘Cause I don’t see no books.”
    Mike: “Come through the doorway and I’ll show you the books.”

    I never did ask Mike which book the young man was sent to check-out.

  12. There’s a whole back story on the guy who asked why he couldn’t attract women. He wanted to know what city he should move to in order to find a woman. The exact reference question had to do with finding out what city in the U.S. had the most lesbians per capita, since that would be the WORST place for him to live, and the most single, straight women per capita, since that would be the BEST place for him to live. I focused on the reference part and avoided the “why he couldn’t attract women” part. The real answer, though, is “because you remind women of the Unabomber.”

  13. For library themed comics I suggest – http://www.unshelved.com/

    I’ve been hoping the boys would do a whole special on the importance of weeding since so many people are against it.

    As I clerk I usually get asked 3 questions.

    1: Where’s the bathroom?

    2: Do you have computers?

    3: Where are the computers?

    @Julie – They might have the old fashion way where the Dewey & such was printed directly into the spine rather than on a label.

    My coworker also got the “How come I can’t get a girlfriend” question. The guy was stinking drunk when he asked.

  14. I work in a middle school library. So far my favorite question this year is “How do you organize your fiction books? I’ve never been able to figure that out. ” This came from a teacher who has been in the same school for FIFTEEN years.

  15. Heh on the weather in Minnesota thing. Normally it would be easy to predict, but this year has thrown us for a loop. Your guess is as good as ours!

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