Close your eyes and imagine your public library. Who do you see inside? Yourself? Quiet readers? Students? A hip librarian behind a large wooden desk? A cat named Dewey wending its way through the stacks? This doesn't begin to scratch the surface! After I began collecting true stories for my blog and ultimately my book I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks, it quickly became clear that I had developed a catalog of the colorful characters who visit the library each day. So open your eyes and take a look at ten people the library can't live without.
He is the septuagenarian who's not afraid of his tablet. He brings his friends to the library computer club and brags to others that he can download music onto his iPod in his sleep. This gentleman models tech comfort and is a support to others in his generation. We miss him dearly when he heads to his vacation home in Boca Raton for the season with an e-reader chock full of library books, debunking myths left and right.
I know it's a pain to bring all of your kids to the library, and I hear you when you say you don't have time to read. Librarians salute you for making literacy and access to books a priority for your family. Your rugrats' screams are audible reminders that the future of libraries is in good hands.
You don't have to come to the library, beach house millionaire, but you do. You donate books, vote in favor of libraries at the ballot box, organize fundraisers, and you do it all with a sense of style and pizazz. You're a mover, a shaker, an opinion maker, and we're glad that you're on our side.
You're clearly a lifelong learner. You use our audio books to learn new languages, the public computers to apply for jobs, and you take free e-courses offered by the library. And the thing that we appreciate the most is your willingness to share with others the positive impact the library has had on your life. As you improve, so does our reputation. Go forth!
The Curious Kid
"Are you going to have penguins in the library tomorrow?" "Where are your books on crooks?" "Why do I have freckles in my armpit?" Your unfiltered thirst for knowledge makes our jobs fun and interesting. Pull up a carpet square and keep the questions coming, kid.
The Library Hopper
You keep us in the loop on other libraries: their displays, workshops, customer service skills, and you keep our books very well-circulated. I don't know how you manage to visit so many libraries in one day, but you make the most out of your library privileges, that's for sure. And it's our privilege to have such a super-user in our presence.
This is the fella who stays at the library for the duration of our shift, yet does not work there. He is the first to greet us in the morning, ask what we had for lunch, and the last to wish us a good evening, but otherwise keeps quietly to himself in his favorite chair. Sometimes I want to award him employee of the month just to see what would happen.
The Unofficial Volunteer
Thank you to the lady who keeps us apprised of the state of our parking lot, loves to turn in lost items, and shows people the way to the meeting rooms. Sometimes she even fills in empty book easels, saving us time and manpower. She's been asked several times if she'd like a volunteer application, but always politely declines. Unofficial is how she rolls.
This is the person who kindly and consistently reminds us he's a taxpayer and therefore knows what's what. He keeps us on our toes and makes myriad suggestions and comments, all of which make the library a better place. While some may bristle when he comes around, the library wouldn't be here without him.
The Echo Boomer
Young adults born in the 1980s and 1990s, librarians love you because you are polite, self-sufficient, connected, and open to change. You always preface your questions with, "I'm sorry to bother you, but..." which is endearing and gracious, if unnecessary (answering questions is one of the best parts of our job). Plus, you aren't afraid of the self-checkout machines.
So who's your favorite library patron? Who is missing? And which one are you?