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I'll gladly give you a map out of here

Today I was standing at the reference desk, and a lady came up and asked "Where is the reference desk?" I'm all "it's right here how can I help you?" and she asked if she could have a map of the library. I said that we don't have one to hand out to patrons...and before I could even offer her to show her around, she exploded, going off on a rant about how horrible and unconscionable were for not having a map of the library. Then, she started asking to speak to "the librarian." Sorry to break it to you, lady, but I am the librarian. No matter what I said she kept asking for "the librarian." I asked if she would write a letter for our comment box but she got even more pissed about that, saying that she needed to speak to someone in person because she was certain the comments never get responses (even though we have a bulletin board next to the reference desk displaying responses to comments).
So, I accepted that she wasn't going to leave without speaking to a "librarian," and I went to get my supervisor. She followed me, staring into the window of my supervisor's office, so I couldn't really explain anything to him. As soon as he stepped out the door she basically pounced on him, yelling and ranting. In addition to the map complaint, she told him how horrible it was we only had one librarian on the desk (Okay, give us the money to fund a second librarian), how incompetent I was and how I was "too scared to tell her who the librarian was." I don't even know? She claimed that she had been going to the library for years ("since it was on X Street") and therefore we had to cater to all her needs. My supervisor finally got her to leave by giving her the library director's phone number.
She went over to the self-checkout. I watched her scan her card and an error message came up. She threw the books onto the counter and stormed away. The director's number was still stuck in the book. So sad that she can't make that phone call, right? The error message on her checkout was that her card had expired. Meaning that she hasn't been in the library in a long time, perhaps even longer than the 6+ months we've been open in this location.
I actually think having a map is a good idea. But I will never give one to this patron. (If she ever comes back, which is unlikely.) She definitely seemed like one of those people that isn't happy unless they're angry about something, so I hope we made her day a little better.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 7th, 2013 01:42 am (UTC)
Wow...I remember folks like this. It's true, they just want to be angry and you were in the line of fire.
Dec. 7th, 2013 03:03 am (UTC)
Somebody give this lady a "library mofo" T-shirt -- SHE WINS!
Dec. 7th, 2013 05:24 am (UTC)
i had a lady the other day ask me where the door was that she came in from.
(we only have one entrance. it's rather large at my small branch)
*face palm*
Dec. 7th, 2013 05:41 pm (UTC)
My first response is something along the line of geeezus f***! My second response is that I am so, so, SO sorry you had to deal with that.

And now I'm curious: do you (and the other members here) think this could have ended differently if someone got stern and cut the mofo off? Would it have escalated to calling the police and getting the mofo banned? Mind you, sometimes I think being firm to the point where one almost sounds like a very stern parent will let some patrons know that they have crossed the line and that their behavior will NOT be tolerated. Other times, I don't know if that will be the flash point to set off a disturbed individual. I suppose the library staff needs to play it safe in order to protect themselves and the other patrons.

I'd still rather get up in their grill and tell them off sometimes. sigh
Dec. 7th, 2013 07:22 pm (UTC)
Truthfully, you can only be as stern as you have backing from your management. If they'll back you to the hilt, this could have been headed off. If they'll sacrifice you to the demons of Customer Service at the slightest complaint, then this went exactly as it should have.
Dec. 7th, 2013 08:51 pm (UTC)
Silveradept got it exactly right. My library has literally used the term "kinder and gentler" to describe new customer service policies. (Which is worthy of a whole other mofo post, but anyway). Sometimes I really want to tell people that they're being out of line and disrespectful, but it probably wouldn't fly with management...and it is often better to just grin and bear it until they leave, admittedly. I'm pretty sure this particular patron would have just complained more if I said anything else to her.
Dec. 8th, 2013 12:26 am (UTC)
It was horrible that there was only one librarian at the desk, and you refused to say who it was?

Maybe she was looking for a stodgy man with an English accent who secretly trains warrior women.
Dec. 9th, 2013 08:28 pm (UTC)
WHEW. Sounds pathological, to me. Like the guy outside the [insert public building here] who asks everyone for change and tells an elaborate, fictitious story about needing to get a bus home so he can get his mother to church on time... or the lady who comes into the university library with a cart full of mysterious, grubby plastic bags and trash, and explains that the cart contains important files and papers that she needs for her big court case against the government.

To this day I still can't tell whether that kind of person really believes their own stories, or whether they just pathologically have to force people to act like they believe them, and to treat them accordingly. I think you've been hit by a random crazy lady who just needed to yell at someone and make them apologize and tell her that she is important.
Dec. 11th, 2013 08:51 pm (UTC)
Ah yes...a case of entitlement. Always refreshing.

Sorry you had to deal with this mofo!!
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

Authority Record

the fuck
The Society for Librarians* Who Say "Motherfucker"
For all of those times when the gatekeepers of the world's knowledge are called upon, in their professional capacity, to use the word "motherfucker." Or at least to seriously consider it.

*Open to librarians; library associates, specialists, technicians, and paraprofessionals of all kinds; library school students; library aides and volunteers; and all of those who love libraries, or even just love a particular librarian. Welcome.

Date Due

July 2014
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