Publib Discussions: Public Library Patron Flatulence

 Unconcealed flatulence in Public Libraries

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On Monday Jun 20th the following question on flatulence aka farting and  many, many other expressions  was offered to the PubLib ListServe :

 I have a patron who comes to use our computers fairly regularly to surf the internet.  Another thing he does regularly is to pass gas loudly while using the computer and not thinking anything of it. Does the library have a right to insist that he stop this or does he have a right to perform this “natural” bodily function? He also does not hesitate to belch on occasion. …  He lifts his “cheek” and lets it fly…   Sometimes they just don’t pay me enough.   ~  Sam

Sam did not specify if the repeated offense by the computer surfer was simply noise related or also smell related.  He also did not state a policy on flatulence for staff and trustees. If library staff or trustees frequently expel gas, does it make a noise? 

However, if the issue is merely olfactory inconvenience, Benjamin Franklin in his letter to The Royal Academy of Farting c. 1781 provided some enlightened observations on the occurrence of gas along with a possible solution:

Benjamin Franklin

 It is universally well known, That in digesting our common Food, there is created or produced in the Bowels of human Creatures, a great Quantity of Wind.

That the permitting this Air to escape and mix with the Atmosphere, is usually offensive to the Company, from the fetid Smell that accompanies it.

That all well-bred People therefore, to avoid giving such Offence, forcibly restrain the Efforts of Nature to discharge that Wind.

That so retain’d contrary to Nature, it not only gives frequently great present Pain, but occasions future Diseases, such as habitual Cholics, Ruptures, Tympanies, &c. often destructive of the Constitution, & sometimes of Life itself.

My Prize Question therefore should be, To discover some Drug wholesome & not disagreable, to be mix’d with our common Food, or Sauces, that shall render the natural Discharges of Wind from our Bodies, not only inoffensive, but agreable as Perfumes.

If Ben Franklin had successfully invented a drug that resulted in the patron expelling perfumes, would the expulsion of gas still be considered offending?  If offense is based on  quantity rather than quality of the gas emitted – what means of measurement would be appropriate for setting flatulence limits in a Public Library?

Publib readers offered their own suggestions :

Have you tried the three strikes rule? If you have three patrons in your library who complain about his gaseous behavior, perhaps you can then tell him to stop. Then, if he does not stop, it is your right to remove him from the property if he is being a nuisance to others.  ~ Ford Simmons, MLIS

Perhaps a personalized seat cushion for this person, with an activated charcoal insert??    Just kidding, I guess…. ~ George Hazelton

I just wanted to bring up the possibility that he may have some sort of medical issue (for instance, irritable bowel syndrome) that puts his gassiness out of his control. You may want to consider what you will do if it turns out that he isn’t just being gross and rude, but actually can’t control the need to pass gas. ~ Heather Backman

why dont you just connect him up and use the gas to power the library? ~ Alan Wylie

Are the farts typically the low whistle variety, or more like the puttering of a motor bike? This is just me, of course, but I find that those of a lower register can have a soothing effect, if sustained. And, wouldn’t you know it, they often are sustained. P.S. I find the word “fart” to be off-putting. I prefer “boop.”   ~ Joseph J. Cadieux

Le Petomane performing

Sam, it sounds like you have more to work with here than just his “tooting.” He’s clearly making himself a nuisance, not merely (possibly) having a health issue. He’s driving patrons away from the library with his behavior, which does not make him a benign member of the community. I say start with a short ban with threats of further, longer ones if he doesn’t correct himself.  Brett Rohlwing

We always take the stance that if other patrons complain, the offending patron is creating an unpleasant environment for them and can be asked to stop it. If nobody else complains, you do have a quandary.   Tom Cooper    Editors note: There is historic precedent to pay people such as Le Pétomane to fart.  In absence of complaints – might there even be approval of flatulence as the work of a fartiste ?

Probably qualifies as “offensive behavior” if other patrons complain.  Body odor is “natural,” but we speak up about that in response to complaints.  ~  Darrell Cook

I would even venture to say that you don’t need to wait for a patron complaint. If it’s bothering your staff, that’s good enough.  Manya Shorr

His right to pass gas ends at the end of your nose. If it was a one or two time event, he can be forgiven, but he is intentionally being offensive. Someone with that problem, knows when decorum dictates that he venture into the restroom to relieve himself of the gas.  He is making it difficult for others to use the Library, and thus needs to be asked to leave, and not come back for two days.  If he comes back and repeats his behavior, lengthen the time away. He’ll either get the message, or he won’t have use of his library. Either way, your other patrons (and your staff) win.  Jeff Imparato

Just, of course, proceed with tact. This can be an unfortunate side effect of some surgery ..became a regular thing for my Dad after his gall bladder was removed. Mortified him, so we all sort of pretended it wasn’t happening.It’s a dicey conversation at best, the more so if your patron can’t help himself…  good luck!! Sara Weissman

 A popular culture interpretation of issues surrounding public expulsion of gas is expressed in Fox Television’s animated series The Family Guy:

Public Library Patron Flatulence

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Karen Schneider Tribute

A Tribute to Karen Schneider:  outgoing co-moderator of PubLib

On Sat Jun 18 2011 Publib co-moderator Karen Schneider  announced two major Upcoming changes to the PUBLIB list :

1. Migration of the  listserve hosting from Webjunction to OCLC.

2. Her departure as co-moderator of the PubLib listserve after 15 years of service to the growing Publib community.

Co-moderator Sara Weissman provided Publib with a an overview of some of the many intellectual/  administrative contributions Karen Schneider has made to help develop this dynamic Publib community :

1. PubLib postings by and about Karen Schneider  number over 6000

2. Karen Schneider’s numerous insights include her “Internet Reference Success Stories, job announcements, policy questions  galore, using the Internet for fun and benefit, announcements from ALA and  its many divisions, humorous reference questions, patrons and accompanying  animals, skylights, cafes in public libraries, the homeless, etc., etc., etc. “

3. PubLib subscribers grew from 2,700 to 10,458 strong. 

Nann Blaine Hilyard – Director of the Zion-Benton Library has suggested a fitting, colorful tribute to Karen for her generous contributions to the PubLib community:

To thank Karen Schneider for her years as co-moderator of PubLib, we are going to give her a bookshelf quilt.   If all 10,000 PubLibbers contribute, so much the better—she’ll have a library-filled quilt!  

 By July 31, 2011, PubLibbers are asked to create signature blocks.

Here is how:

  Cut a piece of woven cotton fabric  2.5”  x  5”. 

Any color.

Must be woven.   If there are no sewists in your household or among your colleagues, consider using a a piece from a shirt or a sheet.

No knits.   No textures (no terrycloth or corduroy).

  On that piece of fabric write your name and library or town – however you want to be identified.  (If you use a pseudonym, that’s fine.)

 ♦ If possible use a Pigma brand pen.  (Scrapbookers, quilters, and artists in other media use them.)

Alternatives:  a gel pen, a fine-tip Sharpie, India ink are all okay.

 ♦ Any color of ink is okay.

*DO NOT USE* a Flair, a fountain pen, or a ballpoint pen.

Signature block with margins

Keep a 1/4 to 1/2- inch margin all around the block.   Do not write in the margin (that’s the seam allowance). 

Send the signature block to: Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton Public Library, 2400 Gabriel Ave.,Zion, IL  60099 BY JULY 31, 2011.  

If you want to enclose a couple of bucks to defray the cost of fabric, thread, and batting that Nann will use create the quilt, that would be great. 

  Note:  Nann will bring Pigma pens and pre-cut 2.5” x 5” fabric to ALA Annual, so if you’ll be there, find her!   

Nann Blaine Hilyard, director
Zion-Benton Public Library
2400 Gabriel Ave.
Zion, IL  60099
847-872-4680x 110
847-872-4942 fax
www.zblibrary.org.

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A Tribute to Karen Schneider 

Ladies Night Out at Your Library

Ladies’ Night Out @ Your Library

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Leslie Schow at the Herriman Library in Utah queried  Publib members for ideas about hosting a Ladies Lock-in at the Library.  Kool & the Gang have addressed this issue in some detail  : 
 
But, the contributors to Publib also had some great suggestions and insight about what leads to the happiness of Locked-up Ladies :
Om

Just off the top of my head…  How about a local Romance author visit? People from local salons/department store makeup staffs doing makeovers? Cooking demos?  Ooh…ooh…yoga and stress relief exercise consultant doing a class?  What a fun idea! ~ Mimi Morris – Dayton Metro

As an idea on that stress management suggestion….I did that.  And for free.  A local business, a wellness center located in town, came in and offered to do this for free for the staff, or for the public.  They also have a nutritionist on staff who is going to do a seminar for free for us.

I’ve been planning on approaching some craft stores and seeing if they’d do a craft.  And I have put out a press release asking for volunteers who would like to share their interests.  I was hoping to start a knitting club, a chess club….I don’t know, something along those lines.  I do have one volunteer who makes the most interesting photo books online from her digital photos. She’s going to bring them in and show us how she does it. ~ Lisa Cohn  – Bloomfield Public Library

What about a jewelry exchange? Sounds fun! ~ Valerie Meyerson – Charlevoix Public Library

Photo courtesy of the US Army

Ladies Night Fight Club

How about a self defense demo or safety tips, demos etc? Something to  in-power the ladies. ~ Donna Cain

Hey, can’t they have a game night too. ~ Diedre Conkling – Lincoln County Library District

You could get someone in to do a water-color project or a pottery painting class.  ~ Melodie Franklin – Lafayette Public Library

How about reading to the ladies?  Love poetry so they will have something to take home to hubby who has been babysitting! ~ Anne Felix

Fix it!

They’ve had yoga, crafts, how to use tools (done by a staff member who is A Woman Who Uses Tools, and very knowledgeably), a presentation by someone from either B&N or Borders on what’s new and hot among popular books, Irish dancing, and things that I certainly can’t remember. There always are giveaways/door prizes, and also some really nice gift packages solicited from area merchants.  There’s always food; I’m thinking maybe one of the planners who is interested in healthful eating found someone to do a program on organic foods, or something like that. 

The event is always after closing on Fridays, and lasts for two-and-a-half hours.  Because of space and all-around manageability, the top number of attendees, as I recall, is 35-40.  The last couple of years people have been asked to make a $5 donation toward costs, and no one has complained.  People have invited friends from othertowns/suburbs around Peoria.  It’s always popular.  “Lots of laughter” goes on, according to one of the staff members, in those very words.

…  it’s always nice to hear someone who lives in another library’s territory say, “This is wonderful; they won’t DO one of these at MY library, because it isn’t really about libraries/literacy/books/reading/fill-in-the-blank.” Gives us an opportunity to feel smug and terribly superior…though with humble and modest mien(s), of course. ~ John Richmond – Alpha Park Library District

Oh, what a night . . .

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Library and Librarian Myths and Legends

Library and Librarian Myths and Legends : the Truth behind the Stacks

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Wisdom

Librarians have often been surrounded by mysteries, myths and legends.  What is the truth about Librarians?  Are they all-knowing godlike beings?  Do books magically appear on shelves?  Is the MLS a real degree?  What about buns?  These gems of corrective, collective wisdom are courtesy of the PubLib Listserve. 

David Faulker in Austin, Texas opened the discussion of De-myth-ifying librarians  with:

Just for fun I’m curious as to what are some of the wildest myths people have about our profession?

The one I hear is that, “it must be nice to work for a library and get to read all the time.”

to which the Publib Chorus responds ~

Well, there is always the one that all men who work in libraries are gay. Also that everyone is a volunteer. ~ Andrew Porteus 

 Everyone there is a librarian It is such a quiet, stress free place to work ~ Meg VanPatten  

  And it’s not just the patrons. I’ve actually had a board member ask me if I was a paid employee or a volunteer. ~ Dorothy Fleishman

“That must be a nice QUIET job.”   ha.  Come visit when we have 60 kids plus their associated older/younger siblings & adults on hand for storytime.  Or when the Chinese Lion Dance team is parading through the stacks celebrating Chinese New Year.  Or when two patrons start arguing about the noise from the headphones of one watching music videos online distracting the other who is trying to complete an online test. Or…  well, you can fill in your own blanks here.  ~ Tina Rawhouser

Most frequent for us, folks believe:

1.  That publishers are required to give books to us – we don’t have to buy them.

2.  That we are REQUIRED to put on the shelf certain books that the “government” tells us to.

3.  That we are REQUIRED to put on the shelf any book anyone wants us to… ~ Dusty Gres

*That we spend all day reading

*That everyone who works at a library is a librarian

*That there’s no reason for us to be at work when the public isn’t there (or to be off-desk for specified shifts) because, without the public, we have “nothing to do” (I’ve even had a library employee question this)

*That libraries are peaceful, calm, quiet places of work suitable to introverts and the socially inept

*That being a librarian isn’t “real” work  ~ Ann Moore

I’ve heard many who don’t frequent libraries say that  libraries are nothing but a den of homeless people who smell bad, talk to themselves & bathe in the library restrooms.  Our little library has none of that; the only ones talking to themselves are the  perhaps staff  – – after all the kids have gone through… ~ Karen Mahnk

Once at a pool party a guy asked me what I did.  I told him that I was a librarian.  He said, “That sounds really boring!”  Turned out he was an accountant, I bit my tongue and said nothing.  Librarianship is many things, but boring it aint! ~ George Hazelton

Does anyone think Laura Bush helped promote the idea that we read on the job? I remember when she said she loved being a librarian because she got to read her way through the gardening section. I cringed at that one. ~ Judy Anderson

“The ALA” controls public libraries ~ Nann Blaine Hilyard

granted, this one was from a 13-ish-year-old, but he was honestly surprised that I have a home, a husband, and a son.  He actually said the words, “…you don’t stay here?” ~ Sarah Morrison

How about the (hopefully small) group of patrons who think the public library provides some sort of dating service with the employees as the dates? ~ Mary Jane Garrett -

How about those folks who want the medical/mental help advice (as if I’m qualified for that) and then start flirting with you? . . . my mum was shocked recently to discover that I help folks with technology questions.  She thought I should hand over questions regarding things such as Microsoft Office, using email, or basic troubleshooting as to why the library computer won’t connect to the internet/print to the IT dept.  All because I’m a librarian and I shouldn’t have to deal with technology.  And then she asked me for help with her Kindle.  ~ Megan Coleman

“What do we libraries or librarians for, isn’t everything available on the internet?” ~ Jane Jorgenson

When my fellow teachers ask how the contract affects me (uh, I have a K-12 teaching cert so the same as you) and were SHOCKED that I had a student teacher. Librarians are TEACHERS not SUPPORT STAFF ~ Steph Sweeney

That reminds me of the only time when our budget did not pass and it was suggested that we staff the reference desk with volunteers because people basically ask the same 3 or 4 questions! ~ Meg VanPatten

That I keep their information in some secret place to share with the government. ~ Terry Ann Lawler

Librarians are pushovers ~ Robert Balliot

. . . you must get so much needlepoint done in between customers at the library ~ Nann Blaine Hilyard  

That all female librarians are some kind of sexual deviants hiding behind the stacks. ~ Melodie Franklin

The other one isn’t actually about librarians, but about libraries.  That’s the one wherein people think the publishers GIVE us all those books.  “You mean, you have to BUY the books?”  Well, yeah, we do; with the fine money that is surely our only source of income (don’t people look at their property tax bills?). ~ Lynne S. Ingersoll

There’s the one that all female librarians are old maids with their hair in a bun and pencils stuck over their ears. The one I like the best is that we, men and women, are all smart and know everything! ~ Anne Felix

Aischylos sans bun

I use this one to my advantage. At least once every day I hear, “but you don’t look like a librarian.” To which I respond, “Oh. That’s because I quit putting my hair up in a bun.” Then I show them my MPB spot and add, “See? I ripped it out by the roots.” ~ Darrell Cook

Upon learning I am a librarian someone once said, “That must be peaceful.” Then I told her about the guy who came into the library following kids around who turned out to have a rap sheet with charges of assault and rape (minors) on it, how some patrons act when they haven’t been taking their meds, and the  patron who yelled at me by telephone for five minutes because she felt two of my co-workers (no, I don’t supervise them)had not given her satisfactory  help. ~ Kevin O’Kelly

Once a candidate for a job told me she wanted to work in a library because it’s an easy job where she could sit down all day. ~ Gair Helfrich

Boy, I sure would like to work in a place that has peace and quiet! ~ Linda Dydo  

“I wish I got paid to read all day.”
 “I wish I got paid to color and cut things out all day.”\ ~ B. Allison Gray
 
“You need a masters degree? Don’t you know alphabetical order?” ~ Diane Doty

Several times I’ve spoken with people who can’t believe that we haven’t read all the books on our shelves. Maybe that’s why they think we’re smart? ~ Tom Cooper

Personnel & Personnel

People don’t understand–including people who are leaders, administrators, executives, whatever, in other vocations–that directors or other administrative folks in libraries deal with the same issues that other leaders, administrators, and executives do: personnel, personnel, and personnel, along with budgets, personnel, boards, personnel, personnel, and, now and then, personnel.  Buildings and grounds.  Contractors.  Also personnel. ~ John Richmond

Directors named Dusty are male. And if a woman answers the phone she is his Secretary as in {snarky tone} “I ASKED to speak specifically to the Director NOT his Secretary…” And if I say, “This is the Director” then the response is, “Oh, well, Debbie…” or, this is the best one, “Oh, really, what’s your REAL name?” ~ Dusty Gres

They also think we keep everything forever! ~ Anne Felix

People always think that library staff get perks like getting to jump to the top of the holds queue or not having to pay overdue fines. I tell them that in terms of using the library, we are just like the patron and we get no special treatment, which always shocks them. They’re also surprised when I point out that, if anything, we have the opposite of perks because our coworkers know what we check out and put on hold and how much we owe, so we have to sacrifice our privacy. ~ Cheryl Hill

Giuseppe Arcimboldo

Surreal Librarian

I’ve had that ‘is that a real’ degree on the subject of the MLS a few times, and never once has a fearless leader of mine allowed me to smile sweetly and say ‘nope, it’s a surreal degree.’ ~ Kathleen Stipek

I am surprised by how many people ask, “How much does it cost to get a library card?” We have a fair number of immigrants in our community, and they are often surprised to learn that public libraries are free. ~ Anne Felix

. . . wasn’t that “a lot of education to sit behind a desk and wait for someone to ask a question?”!!  ~ Penny Neubauer

I overheard a mother walking in front of my desk tell her child “Don’t bother the librarian. She’s busy working. They’re for important questions.” That child will probably never ask the librarians a question, and will probably not use the library as an adult. ~ Angela Morse

. . . people think that a library, any library, will keep forever that very special book or collection of books (or National Geographic Magazines) they are planning to give to the library one day.  That day might be just tomorrow because they’re cleaning out the old family house after the death of a parent, or it might be a plan they’re making for years ahead when they move their stuff to a smaller apartment and get rid of some of their books. ~ Alain

Librarian Legend :

baseball field by Robert Merkel

Coach's box= dugout

I first got Dodger season tickets in 1994.  I got in the habit of bringing cookies to the guys in the bullpen.
The then-bullpen catcher asked me my name, but there was so much noise he couldn’t hear me. 
I whipped out my business card and handed it to him.  He walked over to the other guys, shaking his head, and saying:  “You’ll never guess what she does for a living!” ~Sue Kamm

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Happy Mothers’ Day from Best of PubLib

Best of PubLib 03.28.10

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

Provocative video suitable for all audiences coming soon

This edition of  Best of Publib covers  March 15th through March 28th 2010. This PubLib review and analysis includes questions about naming library rooms, thought-provoking discussions about new media archives , library materials security,  and our new poll on R-rated movie access. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include: 

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Best of PubLib 03.14.10

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

Video coming soon

This edition of  Best of Publib covers the weeks of March 1st  through March 14th 2010. This edition includes questions about collection development, thought-provoking discussions about  known inaccuracies in ‘non-fiction’ works , circulation manager duties ,  humorous anecdotes regarding blondes ,  and the impact of closing public school libraries: 

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