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Lost in Translation--Crazy Reference Questions

The following is another story from The Merry Librarian. Once again, this true story is an example of patron expectations for a librarian’s abilities. As bizarre requests go, this one is definitely a strange need for information. And we’re just curious…why is it that when a patron needs something complicated and bizarre, they always want it within 24 hours? Just curious....

“Here’s a situation I ran into yesterday that I thought you might find amusing…it falls under the “librarians should know everything about everything” assumption that much of the general public seems to have. A man walked into our branch yesterday and asked me the following questions:

“If something were translated from English into Mayan hieroglyphics into Egyptian hieroglyphics, would someone from Iran who speaks Hebrew be able to understand it?”

Umm…I’m thinking not.

“Well, then, could you translate it for me so they could understand it?”

…Why yes, of course I happen to be fluent in ALL those languages. (I am a librarian, after all.)

“Well, do you have a book that translates Mayan hieroglyphics into Egyptian hieroglyphics into Hebrew?”

I’m thinking not…but I’ll check anyway just to appease you…Nope, just as I suspected. Nothing.

“Why don’t you have any books that do that?”

I don’t think there is a book anywhere that does that.

“Well, what can you do? I need it done tonight.” -- Read More

Rebel Librarians? Yes, please!

The following is our most recent Story of the Week from The Merry Librarian (www.merrylibrarian.com), dated Oct. 11th, 2009. A new story is posted every week on our site. Be sure to check us out!

"Rebel Librarians? Yes, please!"

Library patrons are, by nature, very delicate clientele. They enter our doors with all kinds of requests and needs, but we, being the stodgy librarians we all are, sometimes forget that they are to be treated with absolute sensitivity. Sometimes, we blunder. We inadvertently step on someone’s toes with cold-hearted requests such as, “Please use headphones when listening to your death metal music on your laptop,” or “We’d appreciate it if you’d leave your flask of whiskey at home next time.” And we may slip up occasionally and ask difficult and alarming questions, such as, “What’s the title of the book you’re looking for?”. But hey, we’re only human…right?

Librarian: What can I do for you?

Patron: Can you check to see if a book is in your library?

Librarian: Sure! What book are you looking for?

Patron: I knew you were going to ask that! I just had it…and when you asked me that I forgot it right away!

…pause…

Librarian: Oops…sorry about that, is there anything you know about the book that I can possibly use to find the title?

Patron: No! You shouldn’t have said anything!

Librarian: … -- Read More

Another Day, Another Taser

The following is posted from www.merrylibrarian.com from our Story of the Week archives, dated Oct. 4th, 2009. Check out the site for all of our stories!

"Another Day, Another Taser"

Just in case you haven’t gotten the memo, we no longer live in the cheerful, black-and-white world of “Leave It To Beaver.” The streets aren’t even clean anymore, much less safe. Where the public library was once a quiet, quaint place for study and leisurely reading, it has now become a strange mix of internet cafe/detention hall/day care/reading room/homeless shelter. Don’t get us wrong–we aren’t complaining (too much)! The library is supposed to be for everyone, and we gladly open our doors to any person who may walk through them.

But let’s face it: the whole “libraries are for everyone” thing means we get a lot of unsavory people stumbling past our desks everyday. And with them, we get a whole slew of uncomfortable situations. (It is the Merry Librarian’s humble opinion that librarians everywhere should be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize.) But the true heroes of the library are easily the library security guards. They undoubtedly see the worst. Not only do they get the porno freaks and drunks, they get the screamers, irate parents, gangsters, predators, thieves, liars, abandoned children, squatters…you name it. -- Read More

Tough Love From a Tough Dad

The following is a post from The Merry Librarian (www.merrylibrarian.com) dated Sept. 27th, 2009. Check out the website for all postings!

"Tough Love from a Tough Dad"

This week’s Story of the Week is one of the rare stories that is genuinely heartwarming (though we’re sure there are more out there!). As librarians–as with any public service profession–we so often see the sad and traumatic family interactions. It is refreshing to witness powerful and positive relationships like this one. Thank you, “Diane”, for this great story!

I work at a small library in an area of town that tends to house the lower-economic demographic. It is not unusual for things to be stolen from our library on a regular basis–most frequently our DVDs. One day, I was at the reference desk when a man came in with a young, teenage boy. The man looked pretty haggard. He had tattoos everywhere (even a cross between his eyebrows! Ouch!) and lots of piercings. He looked like he’d had a pretty hard life. When he came up to the desk, he set a very tall pile of DVDs in front of me–at least 20 DVDs.

“I found these in my son’s room,” he said. “He didn’t check them out. He stole them.”

I didn’t quite know how to respond, so I (rather stupidly) said, “Oh. Okay. So none of them are checked out?”

“No, ma’am,” he answered. Then he knelt down on the ground so that he was eye to eye with me. His son knelt beside him, looking deeply humiliated and angry. -- Read More

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