Best of Publib Library Humor

The following gems are courtesy of the collective mind of the PubLib Listserve January 2010 Archives

From the Front-line Circulation Desks : featured article

♦   Message: I cannot come in today to return a DVD. I tried to renew the DVD and the system will not allow me to because someone has put in a request for this DVD. It seems to me if I am allowed renewals on DVDs, this person should be expected to wait until I am done. I should not be penalized, with no warning, that I am suddenly not allowed to renew my movie. I should not be expected to pay any fine or even show this on my library record. :roll:

♦  … my favorite, although it was a telephone call, was the lady who called me about the overdue notice she had gotten on the book & CD set she had checked out. We were wrong, it couldn’t be overdue, because she had only had it for four weeks and the title said, “Learn Spanish in Three Months.” :D

♦  Our Circ clerk just shared with me at lunch today that she had strong words from a patron who was also upset about renewals: we’ve had quite a bit of snow this week (with more to come tonight) and the patron cannot get out of his house and all the way in to town to drop off his books. He is very upset that he is going to be charged 15 cents when it isn’t his fault it snowed . . . He tried to convince our new circ clerk that we have a no-late-fees-when-there’s-snow-on-the-ground policy. :)

♦  I’ve witnessed a patron trying to tell a Circ clerk that she shouldn’t have to pay that late fee because she wasn’t going to *drive* to the library to return materials that were due on Earth Day. One supposes the energy demands caused by using the phone or web that day were simply too much for her to consider utilizing those methods, either. :)

♦  My favorite excuse for not paying late fees, is when the patron says I didn’t even read/watch/listen to it. :)

♦  We recently had a patron come to the door before we opened. He didn’t trythe door, just started banging, kicking, and swearing. He repeated “Open the d at mn door” a few times and then left.

The next evening he returned and of course he had received a bill for the book since he’d had it since September. He complained that he can’t get to the library when we are open. I refrained from pointing out that he managed to get to the library to check the book out.

I politely stated that he was welcome to use the book drop if we were closed. “Oh, where is that?” ‘It’s to the right of the door you came in this evening.’ He looked startled and paid his fine saying thank-you to all the staff for their help as he left. :)

♦  I had a patron insist she returned the books she had checked out for six months. She remembered that the library was wide open and no one was there. (Tiny library inside a college, no book drop.) She said she left the books on the desk and walked out. She said it was a Saturday. The library was not open on Saturday and only a couple of people had the key. :)

♦  Northern Nevada usually has very little snow that sticks around, but this year has had significant snow: a patron called to say that she couldn’t get to the library to turn in her books, so they went to California instead. Huh? :?

From the Reference and Information Trenches :

♦  Diarrhea of a Wimpy Kid – I was told by a second grader that he read that long book……I tried so hard not to laugh. :)

♦  My manager once was asked:

Little Boy: “Do you have a book on Third-Grade Marshall?”

Manager/Librarian: “Do you mean Thurgood Marshall?” :D

♦  True story: A lady approaches the reference desk. I am sitting behind the desk (under a big sign that says Reference/Information), with my county ID on.

Lady: What’s your job?

Me: I’m a reference librarian.

Lady: Here?   :)

♦  When I worked at a bookstore, someone came in and asked me “Do you make keys here?”   :)

♦  I was once asked if we had any books on “Hanukkah and other foreign Christmas holidays.”   :)

♦  “Did George Washington sign the Declaration of Independence after he wrote it?”   ;)

♦  I like, ” can you get me the book I checked in last week? It had a green cover”.   :)

♦  Once a patron asked “Why would they put two short novels in one book?” She thought the novellas had been mashed together into one. I could not make her understand that they were still separate. Even saying, there’s the first novella, then the second one starts independently. She just kept saying, “Why would they do that? It doesn’t make any sense.” I said, “You’re right, it doesn’t.” And walked away. :)

♦  My best question was “Do you have books?” asked about 10 years ago. It was difficult keeping a straight face. :)

♦  “How much does it cost to rent books here?” :)

♦  How about “Do you have the book with all the answers?” I was about to suggest the Bible when I remembered I was interning in an academic library and they were looking for the answer book that their professor had left for them there. :idea:

♦  I work in a small, almost rural, library. One day a woman called up and asked the director, “How did Mr. [Smith’s] prostate surgery go?”

The director was a little confused as we didn’t have anyone on staff with that name and said, “I’m sorry, but there isn’t any Mr. Smith here.”

The woman said, “Oh, no! He isn’t *there*; he lives down on Main St. I’m just calling you to find out how his prostate surgery went.”

The director thought that maybe the woman had her confused with one of the other staff members who perhaps COULD give her that piece of information and she said, “I don’t have that information. Are you sure you meant to speak to *me* about this?”

And the woman answered brightly, “Of course I did! You’re the library. You know everything!” :oops:

♦  I had a little boy ask me once for “gay magazines” – i.e. “game magazines.” :)

♦  On a different topic, I once saw a patron go to an OPAC terminal to access his email account (which has happened several times). The screen was already set for an author search. He typed something in the search box, hit “submit,” scratched his head at the results and walked away. I walked up to the terminal and this was on the screen:

                                        “no author matches found for bigstud99 at; nearby matches are..”   :)

♦  When I worked as a circulation assistant at an academic library, a student asked for a “Non-fiction book” for an assignment. Just any Non-fiction book…

♦  I was just sitting at the reference desk a few minutes ago and got that exact same request, but mine was followed up by “I want something that isn’t boring.” She went off to look at some titles to try and see if she was interested in any of them. Then my shift ended. Hopefully something appealed. :)

♦  “Do you have any books with photographs of real dinosaurs?” :)

♦  My most interesting ones actually happened in a bookstore that I worked in during the early 90s: A customer asked me “Where are the red books?” After she clarified that she wanted to know where the books with red covers were, and that she didn’t have a particular one in mind, I told her that we don’t shelve by color. She said: “Why not?”

♦  Another customer asked me where the “book on the table” was (we had dozens of display tables). She couldn’t remember the author’s name, the title, what it was about, what the cover looked like, whether it was paperback or hardback, or any other detail about it. She thought that she had seen it a few weeks prior, or maybe a few months back, but at least within the last six months…maybe.

♦  Another time, a customer walked up to me and asked me where books with “pictures of dead things” were. He didn’t care if they were human or not, how they were killed, where they were killed, etc. He just kept reiterating that he wanted a book with “lots of pictures of dead things.” We tried True Crime, but the books there had “too many words.” We went to the Photography section and found a book on Vietnam that had lots of pictures of dead people, but (sadly) there was a one sentence caption at the bottom of each page. “Too many words,” he said. In the end, I sent him to “Forbidden Books,” an interesting bookstore in Dallas(now defunct) that carried the books that most bookstores wouldn’t touch. :shock:

♦  At the same bookstore, a customer walked up to me and told me a sad tale about the murder of her mother-in-law. Evidently, after visiting the customer’s family, the grandmother got on a plane, flew home, and was picked up in the airport by one of her other sons, who then gunned her down on the spot. The customer said “Where are the children’s books on that?” She didn’t want books about dealing with murder, books about the death of a relative, or general books about grief. No, she specifically wanted a book about a grandmother who is shot by her son, and nothing else would do. At that point, I fell back on my stock answer for that type of situation: I told her that it was a shame that the publishing industry had ignored that issue, and it would be great if someone wouldstep forward and write a good book about it. She said “I’ll do that!” and left happy. :sad: – Jesse Ephraim :!:

♦  Or the patron who looked at me with disbelief when I told him that fiction was organized by the authors’ last names. “Well, why don’t you put them by title?” As in, all fiction in alpha order by title. When I explained that some people want to see what else an author has written, and that many people like an author but don’t know the titles of books they’ve written, he looked at me as though I were mentally deficient. ;)

♦  A favorite of mine… I *believe* I read about this one years ago in Booklist, probably in a Will Manley article, but I’m not exactly sure. This has stuck with me all these years – namely for the tactful manner used by the librarian, if  anything.

It went like this:

Patron: “Do you have a life-sized atlas of the world available?”

Reference Librarian: [With an incredulous look upon her face] “Yes, but its in use right now.” :D

♦  Customer (Direct quote): : “I need some books on booby traps.”

Librarian: “Sure! Are you looking for hunting traps?”

Customer: “Hell no! I’m lookin’ for human booby traps, those d at mn wetbacks keep stealing my chickens!”  :evil:

Editors Note : The best resource may be ACME, but some of the products may not create the desired results. :shock:

And,  from Joe Schallan on the Beautiful NW :

♦   “I want to caution Publibbers about the “beautiful Northwest” bit, though. It’s beautiful, all right, if you like green. Heck, you’d be green, too, and with saplings sprouting from your scalp, if you had that much drizzle dumped on your head every year.

The Washington state flag is green because it is wet most of the year. Moss forms on the fabric itself. If you’re a flag maker, you can dye it green to disguise the moss, or just sell it undyed and let nature take its course.

How much drizzle? Would you believe 452 inches per annum? (Whatcom County actually has its own rainfull measurement standard, the Smoot, used to more compactly express such vast amounts of moisture, and based on the height of a well-known local bathroom-cleaning-products salesman, Oliver Smoot, who was five foot nine: “We got six-and-a-half Smoots last year.” “Yep, thank God, a little under average.”)

Which is not to suggest that there is no variability in the weather. It runs the gamut from drizzle to rain and back again to drizzle   more … :D

Best of PubLib ALA Midwinter Exhibit Hall Review

Best of PubLib at the ALA Midwinter Meeting Exhibit Hall Review

This week,  Best of Publib covered the ALA Exhibit Hall at the Boston Convention Center.   The HD video below includes hundreds of vendor displays.  We hope it will help you imagine the experience if you were not able to attend, or help refresh and reinforce what you learned.  


Boston Convention and Exhibition Center

The Boston Convention Center was an excellent venue for ALA. The train brought us to South Station - just a few minutes away from the hotels and convention amenities.   There are many local publishers and library suppliers within a short distance, so start-ups and unique product suppliers could present affordably.  And, Boston rocks!  The Freedom Trail, Duck Tours , along with world-class museums and libraries are within short distances of the convention center.  

The organizational effort by ALA and attention to detail by the library vendors was outstanding. It was easy to lose track of time on the exhibit hall floor amidst the panorama and noise.  It took on a casino / carnival atmosphere with prizes to win and vendors pitching their games. High above, you could use the Food Court sign as a directional beacon.  

Of all the hundreds of vendors represented, we chose to review five.  

The first is : I-Concepts which defines itself as Innovative Concepts for Nonprofit Organizations.  We could imagine many libraries outside of Boston benefiting from this service, along with fostering a general appreciation of local history archives.  If you are looking for a way to both encourage collection use and raise funds - i-concepts may be the answer. The Amelia Earhart print was fascinating.

The second  is : LibraryThing. Tim Spalding along with his gregarious black-shirted  horde truly represented the best of Open Source, Library 2.0 and viral marketing. They were eager to engage and highly entertaining.  

The third vendor is : LE@D-Lifelong Education @ Desktop from the University of North Texas   This group was absolutely charming and demonstrated infectious enthusiasm for their services. They dressed in some of the most colorful attire at the exhibit.  Le@D  provides highly affording library training. According to Director - Kevin Haney (in the middle with the green shirt) – costs are as low as $15 for a course! Enthusiastic library training -  Deep in the heart of Texas!  

New York Times

The fourth vendor is: The New York Times offering 50% off Home Delivery Service
 Marketing was conducted by On the Avenue Marketing Group with this excellent salesperson hawking half-price subscriptions. She may have been the hardest working individual in the exhibit hall. Yet, it was somehow troubling that this was the limit of representation of the New York Times publishing empire.  


The fifth vendor is: III – Innovative Interfaces Incorporated. III is one of the heavy hitters in the Library industry. Many libraries are dependent on their products and they have  a loyal base. I worked on two transitions to III – the first at Brown University from CLSI and the second at CLAN libraries from Horizon. I have used III for over twenty years and find it offers outstanding service. However, what I observed in the exhibit hall was troubling.  

The III booth was very well-appointed and designed with several interactive product displays. It supported a large group of associates to answer questions. Yet, few were actually engaged in discussions with anyone but their co-workers. A librarian approached two of the representatives to thank III for providing a pass to the exhibit hall. One of the representatives took a look at the librarian’s badge and said something to the effect of :

 “Well ______ must have been giving away those passes all along the east coast, we had another librarian from ____ stop by earlier “.

Then the rep rattled off a few names of people they considered important from that same institution and basically dismissed the librarian. There was no sales pitch. No offer to demo. Merely, a dismissal. 

Library Service, especially in the public library sector, ideally levels the playing field. Service is equal. In contrast, some vendor representatives have obviously been instructed to find out the station of the exhibit hall attendee, determine if they were of the buyer / influencer class and dismiss the others. Yet, the nature of libraries and librarians as technology consumers requires generating interest throughout an organization and getting everyone to buy in. If you have six vendor representatives at an exhibit and you don’t have a crowd around your people, then you should generate interest by engaging everyone.  All of the library vendors were start-ups at one point.   


The exhibit hall may be the most effective way to get hands on experience with some of the newest and most exciting products in the library world.  The meager twenty-five dollar entrance fee – or having an inside vendor representative hook you up for free makes the experience well worth the visit.  

Please join us on BestofPublib Facebook

The Publib Archives

The Publib archives from the Webjunction  listserve are available here:  Archives    


This Week in Best of PubLib 12.22.2009

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

Our special holiday edition of  This week in Best of Publib covers  December 14th through December 22rd. This Best of PubLib report includes questions about collection development,  excellent library quotes, reference librarian development,  and the impact of intergenerational conflict. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include:

  • Topic   »    social software user policy question - Penny Ramirez in Crystal Lake, IL is looking for library policy examples –  How does your library facilitate or inhibit social networking?
  • Topic   »    ADA compliant software -  Renee J. Ponzio   in Eau Claire, WI wants to know if you have found language software that meets ADA criteria – Do the accessibility tools that are standard with Mac and PC systems make language software compliant?
  • Topic   »    weird animal sounds storytime -  Linda Myer   in Marysville OH compiled a list of children’s books recommended by PubLib readers that  help children discover animal sounds – Who hoots?  – sounds like a job for librarians!
  • Topic   »    Dewey-less libraries - Kevin O’Kelly   in Somerville, MA is looking for alternative methods of finding library materials. Is there a better system than OCLC’s Dewey? What is the ultimate example of sign systems and call numbers?
  • Topic   »    Broadband Stimulus - Andrea Taylor   in Fullerton, CA  is looking at the impact of  stimulus funds on high-bandwidth connectivity - Will broadband stimulus affect and enhance your services?
  • Topic   »   Western Fiction for a bookclub discussion - Terry Sterling   in Fresno, CA got excited enough abut the recent collection development topic on Westerns to envision a bookclub discussion - What do you recommend?
  • Topic   »    Middle School Book Club Selection -   in Lebanon, OR is looking for selections appropriate for Middle School students – On that topic is Lost really just an adult Lord of the Flies ?
  • Topic   »    Library Quote –  Michael R. Meise -    in Roanoke, VA  is looking for the perfect quote for a library bag – many excellent suggestions were offered.
  • Topic   »    Retirement!!  George Hazelton   in McDonough, GA has announced his upcoming retirement – Congratulations !  Huzzah  !
  • Topic   »    Tutorial on -  Sana Moulder    in Fayetteville NC is teaching a course on Ancestry and is looking for tips – How far back can you trace your lineage?
  • Topic   »    Computer Access Passes…  Ron Block in Jacksonville, FL wants to know how you ration computer services to non-residents – Is your access universal?
  • Topic   »    teen areas -  Cindy Hayes    in High Ridge, MO  is concerned about adults in the teen areas – Do teens and adults mix? Should adults be restricted from convenient access to teen oriented collections? When is being a child at heart or in mind a bad thing? Should libraries foster intergenerational relationships

Take our poll!


Please join us on BestofPublib Facebook

The Publib Archives

The Publib archives from the Webjunction  listserve are available here:  Archives  


This Week in Best of PubLib 11.30.09

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

This week  in  Best of Publib covers the week of November 23rd through November 30th. This week includes questions about the methodology of Library Journal’s Library Index, bandwidth management, libraries as art subjects,  and library workplace violence.  Some of the topics we will be reviewing include:weekly update

  • Topic   »    LJ Index Misbehaving Data – Thomas Hennen of HALPR index questions the LJ index -  Which is more transparent?  See poll below !
  • Topic   »    Library Gems – Marshall Shore is putting together programs on libraries that innovate - Can you recommend some?
  • Topic   »    Tracking Reference Books Use – Alison Moss in Lafayette, Indiana wants to know – how do you derive your reference statistics?
  • Topic   »    BLACKLISTING BANDWIDTH HOGS – Larry Hlavsa in New Ulm, Minnesota ask how you handle Hulu and Youtube when they disrupt  service.
  • Topic   »    Policy for viewing DVDs within library – Nicole Johnson  in Loves Park, Illinois wants to know if you provide DVD players for in-house use.
  • Topic   »    Libraries As Represented in Art – Michael Schofield in Florida would like some sources – Impressionists?
  • Topic   »    100th anniversary – Susan Riley in Mount Kisco, New York is having a party for her library – Ideas? Elizabeth Fraser tells us they go for the gold!
  • Topic   »    Digital signage – PubLib list moderator Karen Schneider wants to know what sort of system you would recommend.
  • Topic   »    CD book question – Mark Arend in Oshkosh, Wisconsin asks - What if a gift says: Not for sale to libraries?
  • Topic   »    How to handle violent patrons? A violent workplace incident was reported out of the New York Public Library – How would you react? How should you react?

Take the Poll -

Please join us on BestofPublib Facebook

The Publib Archives

The Publib archives from the Webjunction  listserve are available here:  Archives  


This Week in Best of PubLib 11.23.09

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

This week  in  Best of Publib covers the weeks of November 8th through November 22nd. This week includes questions about collection development, thought provoking discussions about library photography,  archiving the Grateful Dead, library materials security and damage,  and generational conflicts. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include:weekly update

  • Topic   »    The end of CD HotList – Rick Anderson in Utah announces the ending of the CD HotList - will he create a new directory?
  • Topic   »    What is the Source of a Nativity story from Joseph’s point of view from Toby Greenwalkt in Skokie, IL – Answer The Handmaid and the Carpenter by E. Berg
  • Topic   »    When customers are ill – Alison Moss in Lafayette, IN is looking for policies – Diedre Conkling references LibraryLaw
  • Topic   »    Fun Games for little ones - Pam Karr in Redlands, CA wants your suggestions – Louis Alcorn recommends Tumblebooks
  • Topic   »    100th anniversary suggestions – Rita Squires in Dalles, OR wants to know how others celebrate
  • Topic   »    Generational conflict and retiring librarians – Hillary Theyer in Torrance, CA wants resources
  • Topic   »    Posting/identifying photos – Roger Carswell  in Iola, KS wants to know policies for posting photos – what is the law?
  • Topic   »    Legit site? – Cynthia Dieden wants to know some credentials – Trustee Fred Beisser evaluates
  • Topic   »    Children’s registrations/multiple cards – Andrew Poplawski in Dartmouth, N.S.  is looking at policies
  • Topic   »    Archiving the Grateful Dead - Judy Anderson spots a hot dead head library job 
  • Topic   »    Teachers selling lesson plans – Sharon Foster wants to know if librarians are next.
  • Topic   »    Locking book drops  - Helen Rigdon wants to know if you are locking them for the holidays – are your materials secure?
  • Topic   »    What would you tell a student? – Christie Brandau is teaching a MLIS course and wants your nuggets of  library wisdom – Grace DeCandido offers her suggestions
  • Topic   »    Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Lorie J. O’Donnell in Rome, NY is having a book discussion and wants to know what you would ask.
  • Topic   »    Good resources for magazine/journal indexes – Andrea Lhotka in Sedona notes the lack of database support for indexing old magazines – what resources are out there – WorldCat ?
  • Topic   »    Patron requests limits – Lynne Mildestein in Bend, OR wants to know if you are limiting active holds – can there be too many holds?
  • Topic   »    A/V in bookdrop - Mary Soucie in Illinois want to know policies – How do you limit damage?
  • Topic   »    ESL Website – Amber Sroka is putting together an ESL website and would like to see other examples

Please join us on BestofPublib Facebook

The Publib Archives

The Publib archives from the Webjunction  listserve are available here:  Archives  


This Week in Best of Publib 10.18.09

Best of Publib Current Topics and Archives

This week  in  Best of Publib covers the weeks of September 28th through October 18th. These last weeks include discussions about food for fines and collection development, thought provoking discussions about drug testing Friends groups and  cataloging Obama , post mortem niceties,  and the relevance of Teamster librarians. Some of the topics we will be reviewing include:weekly update

  • Topic -  Children and technology – Should we give them what they want or tell them what they should want?
  • Topic -  f32bb3e838340b8318b565ac7e59477d3b5c775d - Do we confirm, deny or neither?
  • Topic -  PubLib list moderator Karen Schneider is on the move again - Is Oakland ready for her? – Will Tallahassee ever be the same?
  • Topic -  ALA-APA seeks course providers – But writers ask ‘At what cost’?
  • Topic -  The cashless library? Is your money is no good here anymore?
  • Topic  Food for fines revisited – How do you balance the budget and still help the less fortunate? 
  • Topic -   NYPL staffer Esther Averill’s and her Jenny Linsky books.
  • Topic -   - Patrons and back packs - should there be different rules for teens?
  • Topic -   – Vacation messages – housekeeping your email settings – Should you use Gmail for Publib?
  • Topic -   – Foreign language collection development - What are the best sources?
  • Topic -   – Downloadable audiobooks – What resources are available other than Overdrive?
  • Topic -   - Selling thumb drive / usb devices – Elizabeth Fraser in Charleston WV explores cost management.
  • Topic   – Sign me up – Does the brand of union affect the outcome of negotiations? Does a Teamster librarian have more clout?
  • Topic   - Is there a nicer name for post mortem ? Phalbe Henriksen from the great State of North Carolina asks for a less morbid descriptor.
  • Topic   – Room use and background / drug tests for Friends groups in New York – Do you ask your Friends to pee in a cup?
  • Topic -   – Cataloging  Obama – Pre-Obama presidency and post-election materials cataloging rules investigated – Where do you shelve the President?
  • Topic   - What are libraries charging for non-resident use of the Internet? What are the new economics – how are costs recovered from transient patrons?
  • Topic   – Library Drug policies – Do you have a library Drug Czar or needle sharing programs?  Do you just say ‘know’?
  • Topic   - Our time – Michael McGorty provides a thoughtful  link to this LATimes homeless story   - from the richest country on earth.

Please join us on BestofPublib Facebook

The Publib Archives

The Publib archives from the Webjunction  listserve are available here:  Archives  



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 180 other followers