Shush Her

Miss Manners advises Gentle Reader on how to handle the Nosy Librarian who reads the titles of her borrowed books out loud.


I'm not about to register over there just to comment - but someone really should point out over there that even if privacy laws DON'T have something against that in that state, that every librarian I know is MORE concerned about privacy than the laws even are.

I really suspect that the "librarian" is actually just the town gossip who has just been hired to work circulation. Sadly the average person who starts work at a library just doesn't get the privacy issue (my student workers don't even after I explain it often... oh they might finally get that they can't tell someone who has the book they're looking for checked out, but I found one snooping around on someone's jump drive to find out whose it was instead of just putting it in the lost and found the other day)

Miss Manners really should have suggested she ask to speak with the library director or whomever is the woman's supervisor. Unless this is a really really small town library - I really sincerely doubt that this woman is the branch manager, so there has to be someone over her that this can be taken to - thats the appropriate response - not throwing stereotypes back in the woman's face (which probably won't do anything because other than being really loud, I somewhat suspect she's closer to the stereotype than most of us)

Miss Manners has no manners! What the hell? I agree with the above commenter. She should speak to the library director about the CLERK checking out books.

I read this column and am very surprised by it.I was going to suggest it was a clerk but the letter implies she's the only employee and the response was off regardless. This is the response I just sent to MM (or the intern who was phoning it in for her that day.) I was going to throw in a comment about someone working for the doomed print media not throwing stones, but decided that would thwart my chances of being printed.

Dear Miss Manners,
I am astounded at your response to the reader whose library selections are read aloud and commented upon. How taking cheap shots at the rest of the profession with archaic, cruel stereotypes and making sexist jabs at this agreeably awful woman's value as a human could be construed as appropriate or helpful escapes me. Such harsh and futile recommendations are uncharacteristic of your column.

After all of your years of handling interpersonal faux-pas, do you seriously believe that "shushing" this woman will show her the error of her ways? This library is failing in its obligation to honor patron privacy which is not just a customer service issue but rather one of professional ethics. Be the offender a librarian, clerk or volunteer, the correct response is that this patron should complain to the director or governing body of the library- or at the very least attempt a constructive response rather than a petty retaliation.

A young, good-sighted, loved, forward-thinking and well-mannered librarian

P.S. You "got to me," all right: I'll be deleting your column from my RSS feed (which is an online article subscription, for those who are technically behind-the-times.)

I still can't believe this! I've reread it in disbelief at least five times. Seriously???? This has to be the work of an already-fired intern or some kind of publicity stunt.

Between the response to this and to Jay Leno's joke earlier this week, I have to conclude that librarians are among the most thin-skinned people around. Do you seriously believe it to be impossible that a 'professional' librarian might act this way? I have had similar experiences, from 'real' librarians as well as lowly clerks. It's narrow-minded to think your profession is above blame, and insulting to clerks and volunteers everywhere to assume that bad behavior stems solely from them.

Well, I find it horrible that someone labeled as "Miss Manners" is insulting an entire profession based solely on a stereotype. I would think someone such as "Miss Manners", well, would have better manners than that. It's not a matter of being "thin skinned". It's a matter of common sense and decency.

And no, not all bad behavior comes form clerks and volunteers, but they are the ones with the most contact with patrons, especially at the circulation desk. And yes, as a clerk myself, it does sting a bit when people blamed the "poorly trained" clerks for things because I pride myself on doing my job and doing it well. I have seen atrocious behavior from degreed and non-degreed library workers alike.

I think the other commenters weren't saying it must be a clerk because she was at fault, but because she was checking out books to people.

Miss Manners advice is to ask the librarian to be quiet.
Her's in an etiquette column. Carolyn Hax or (god forbid) Dan Savage would have given very different answers.

From an etiquette standpoint, asking the librarian to be be quiet is a good response. And, you can't have a patron asking a librarian to be quiet without referencing the stereotype.

So Miss Manners addresses it by taking an extreme form, highlighting twice that it is offensive to librarians. I thought it was kind of funny.

to find books to respond with relevent titles.

Shut Up, Stop being Nosey, Noone Likes You etc etc