An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Monday the 13th

My once a month Monday solo shift, today, wasn't nearly as traumatic as Mondays typically can be. There was really only one moment during the whole day when the chaos threatened to overwhelm. However, from the state of our shelves when I arrived, the "liberry" appeared to have been locked in the throes of chaos all weekend long. Considering that Ms. S had been the weekend warrior riding the desk, this was probably true. Several partial shelves of books had fallen over, sans bookends. Other shelves had their books shoved back from the front edge of the shelf, the victims of one of our industrious book-shoving child patrons. Such children irritate the bejezus out of me.

Don't get me wrong: I do understand that "liberry" logic and little kid logic don't have much common ground. In "liberry" world, whenever possible, books must all line up neatly with the front edge of the shelf so that they are pleasing and uniform to the eye. In little kid world, books must be shoved all the way to the wall, because there's all that empty space back there and it's somehow satisfying to shove `em back into it. And keep shoving them back into it, until they've gone around an entire room. (Oddly, most book-shovey kids only shove books back on one shelf level, usually the arm-height middle level, leaving the lower and upper levels alone, regardless of whether or not they can reach them. I don't know if this is by design, or if it just doesn't occur to them that all the other shelves have books with space behind them too.)

What's even more irritating about the book-shovers is that it's difficult to catch them at it. Usually their work is only discovered long after they've left the building. So you can imagine my great joy today—after having spent a lot of time pulling all the weekend's shoved books back out to the front edge and righting and bookending their fallen comrades, not to mention swearing under my breath at the kind of terrible things that would make Dick Cheney blush that I was going to do to whatever brat was unfortunate enough to let me catch him shoving books—when I looked over the edge of the circ-desk to spy a newly arrived kid shoving a whole row of mysteries back with wild abandon.

"PLEASE, don't shove those books back, please," I said. I added the second please because kid's mom was standing right there and the first please was uttered in a rather harsh and possibly bloodthirsty tone.

The shover whipped around, mid-shove, with a gratifyingly frightened and guilty expression on his face. This was no tiny kid who could claim innocence, either. This was an 11-year-old who clearly knew better. His mom, like a doe sensing a whiff of trouble in the air, looked up, too. I then added, "We like to keep the books pulled out to the front of the shelf."

The two of them set about pulling the books back out, but, having not been trained in the proper method for doing this, they did it pretty half-assedly.

The subject of patrons doing basically harmless things in libraries that they are clearly not meant to do and also know better than to do is not a new one. In addition to our book-shoving brat, we were also visited today by another purveyor of "liberry" irritation: The Coot.

(TO BE CONTINUED...)

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