"Do you work here?"


Joe Schallan has written one of the funniest things I've read in quite some time. First posted to Publib last week, he wrote: "Sue Kamm related one of her pet peeves -- being stationed at one's place in the library, under the 4 x 6-foot neon sign that says "ASK
HERE," whilst festooned with badges of office, name tag, the library PR campaign
button, and all the other appurtenances and regalia of librarianship, and still being asked

"Do you work here?"

As for responses to that, my personal favorite is a double-take and a startled look, as if the possibility had just occurred to me:

" . . . Sure! Why not!?"

Other possibilities:

"Do you work here?"

(Looking long and carefully at library ID badge before responding,
perhaps drawing it up to my face for careful inspection) "No. Sorry.
I don't."

Much more below...
"Do you work here?"

"What do you need?"

"I've never used a computer before, but the company I'm applying to
said the library could help me write my resume in Microsoft Word,
set up a free e-mail account, and, like, send the resume along with
an e-mail to them."

"Interesting. Actually, I don't work here. That fellow over there
(pointing at colleague) can help you with that."

- - - - - -

"Do you work here?"

(Responding quickly) "Yes! How can I . . . (suddenly stopping
short and grasping at an imaginary object on my upper arm, seeming
to tear the phantom item off and hurl it away) . . . "GET OFF!!"

- - - - -

"Do you work here?"

"Yeah. I'm with Facilities Maintenance. Could you give me a hand
over here with the toilet?"

- - - - -

"Do you work here?"

(Looking up sharply) "Are you one of the Ones Who Pay My Salary?"

- - - - -

From a teenage male:

"Hey dude, do you work here?"

"I'm sorry. This is a dude-free zone."

- - - - -

"Do you work here?"

(Looking rapidly about, panic-stricken) "WHERE IS EVERYBODY??
God! Trapped like a rat in a drain!!"

- - - - -

5:55 pm on a Friday, to a librarian five minutes from retirement:

"Do you work here?"

"Yes, but would you terribly mind if I asked you to take your
silly-ass question to another library?"

[Needless to say, far worse responses could be contemplated.]

- - - - -

"Do you work here?"

(Taking off the badges and nametags and handing them to
the patron) "Not anymore I don't."

- - - - -

"Do you work here?"

(Sticking hands in armpits and flapping like a bird) "AIEEEEE!
WEEE . . . HAWWwwww. Unka! Unka! Unka!"

- - - - -

"Do you work here?"

(Loudly, so entire floor can hear) "AW JEEZ, YOU'RE NOT

- - - - -

"Do you work here?"

(Lowering voice, speaking worriedly) "You're not from the
Sex Crimes Unit, are you?"

Please feel free to try any of these, but remember that I
have copyrighted these responses, and you may use
each only once, for personal amusement and edification.

You may find that patrons will be strangely surprised
and taken aback by some of them. I assume no
responsibility for consequences arising from their use.
Unwrap carefully, and use at your own risk. Recycle.
Carry a spare lightbulb and keep a cool head.

-- Joe Schallan
Phoenix, Arizona
(Yes, but it's a DRY heat . . . )

You can email him to say thanks @ jbsphx at cox.net


A better answer would be, "Yes, but only for five more minutes, so it better be fast!"

I have a tee-shirt that I got from ThinkGeek that says "I don't work here". If my library's dress code was just a little more relaxed, I'd really be tempted to wear it to the office one day, just to cause cognitive dissonance amongst the patrons.

"I hate to generalize...(but I will anyway) in the past I think there was a sense of entitlement, a sense that no matter how you treated a patron, you would never be held accountable, never loose your job...the money would always be there, you could be helpful or not depending on your mood."

I doubt it was a sense of entitlement. My son is a manager in a quick lube place and it drives him crazy trying to train his help to be polite and helpful to the customers. You either learn good manners at home or you don't. It's probably too late by the time you get the MLS.

Word, my friend.

That would be me. I was once asked for directions in downtown Columbus OH, which I had only been in for about five hours at the time (all of them in an office building).

The amazing thing is that they were asking me directions to the place I had just returned from, so I could actually help them!

Especially with khaki pants! In fact, I don't wear that combo anywhere, because I know people will ask me if I work at Target.

I hate to generalize...(but I will anyway) in the past I think there was a sense of entitlement, a sense that no matter how you treated a patron, you would never be held accountable, never loose your job...the money would always be there, you could be helpful or not depending on your mood.Those days are over. Yeah!Of course there have always been librarians who would never make a patron feel unwelcome or uncomfortable...If we are going to laugh, lets laugh at ourselves instead of our patrons, and recognize that we have to be open and accepting of all questions and all patrons, and if there are times when we are not, then that's time to take a break, a vacation or change professions.

You, too, huh?

As someone who can be morbidly shy in unfamiliar environs, THANK YOU!!

I don't think I've ever asked, "Do you work here," unless wandering the isles of Target desparately seeking a "team member"

Yesterday, while standing in a ShopKo looking at video games, a tweenager (You know you're a librarian if you actually use that word.) approached me and asked if I worked there. It took every bit of composure and politeness I could muster to keep from telling him:

"No. No I don't. But I could see how the tank top, board shorts, and bare feet in sneakers might have thrown you off. It does look a lot like the uniforms the employees wear."

Sigh. I could never be a Jedi. I wonder if there's an opening for Sith Lord?

Never mind that, I once did an impromptu Reference session at a Costco when a mother asked me if Doom 3 would be suitable for her child and whether or not it would run on her computer. Well, even though I attired myself much like I did at ShopKo and still finding her suffering from the notion that I worked for Costco, I went ahead and answered.


Don't worry, I gave her the correct answer. Yes Doom 3 would run on her computer as she described it but she might want to think twice about letting her ten year old son partake in a game where one slaughters demons spilling forth from the very bowels of hell who are burning, screaming, decaying, and yes, even topless like our friend Vagary here. Of course I mentioned that it wasn't my decision to make and she might feel her ten year old is mature enough to handle such things, but the game does have an M rating for a reason.

She agreed.

I have found that out the hard way more than once.

Bravo!Just think how we feel when we are unsure about something, and have to ask someone who could intimidate and humilate us...SURE it's difficult to get the communication started so asking "Do you work here?" is just a way to start...Ever had a nasty or condescending response from someone who made you feel like an idiot! How didyou feel about that person? What if they needed something from you...like funding?Librarians cannot afford to to be patronizing or condescending or mean to anyone...especially since that person we are being mean to may very well be the person who votes to keep us fundedor not...and if they are not pleased with ourservice and if they do not come again...our jobsare on the line...Sure we all get burned out and tired of repeated questions but there must be a better way of handling this than making fun of and expressing contempt for our customers...we all need training...not just on the best sources to use to answer a question, and not just on how to do a reference interview, but on excellent customer service...All our competitors focus on customer service... we need to be sure we do as well or more libraries will close...it's the HUMAN connection and the ability to provide service that makes people feel better and learn something that gives us an advantage that we'd better not waste!

many people in this world aren't as worldy or comfortable with the concept of talking to strangers, nor are they necessarily aware of kindnesses of human life, but they try, and when they do try, they should not be responded to smartly or rudely. they should be nurtured. It can be rote, but it should be kindly said. something like, "Yes, I am a librarian here. My name is Rodger. How can I help you?". That phrase establishes your professional standing, your willingness to be friendly, and your willingness to be of service. Maybe next time they vote to cut the library budget, you'll get to keep your job too.

I can understand someone asking me if I work at the library when I'm out on the floor and away from the desk. We have rather small name tags and I don't dress the part. (Or do I? Does the new standard librarian garb consist of cargo pants, combat boots, and the loudest possible shirts you can find? I admit I haven't been keeping track.)

But when I'm behind the desk, giving orders, helping people, moving things around, and you know just generally working, it really irks my stupidity metre when someone asks if I work here.

I'm reminded of a South Park episode where Mr. Garrison says "There's no such thing as a stupid question, only stupid people."

Actually, once you've been a librarian and answered millions of questions from "where is the pencil sharpener" to "what is the composition of gorilla milk," you get that "Do you work here" question everywhere you go--grocery, retail, tourist, church, etc. Some people wear an invisible "kick me" signs; we have "ask me" signs taped to our foreheads.

Asking 'can I ask you a silly question' is fine but asking 'do you work here' when they are on a special very obviously enquires desk is a stupid thing to do. Now if they ask someone that who is standing in the library looking like they might work there that's fine.

I hate to rain on this parade, because I know everyone is having a good time and it's very cute and all, but I'm wincing reading this. People who ask "do you work here" are just nervous about asking you a question and want to see whether or not you're friendly and open to them. Very much akin to "can I ask a stupid question?" Mocking these people on the internet isn't very helpful in terms of helping them get over their library anxiety.

Again, sorry to be a wet blanket, but I wouldn't want patrons to read something like this.

Maybe it has to do with your level of confidence, and their perception of you as a knowledgeable person. (I wonder what they're keying in on?)I get asked lots of questions in lots of places. Especially so in bookstores and computer places. I'm *never* in a matching uniform for these places...-- Ender, Duke_of_URL