A popular Tumblr account is making clear that the life of a public librarian is no picnic.
The page I work at a public library is drawing tons of Tumblr users to ogle the short and often hilarious anecdotes submitted by exhausted librarians.
Gina Sheridan created “I work at a public library” in 2008 after she began working as a public librarian in California. Her site is seeing some resurgence this week — it was trending on Tumblr earlier in June even though it’s 7-years-old.
Sheridan curates the Tumblr page, sorting through about 10 submissions a week, and in 2014, she published a collection of true stories (the majority of which were her own) from public libraries.
The book is titled, “I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks.”
Take a look through the 54 curated pages of stories and you’ll find everything from photos of ripped library books (many come with apology notes from 4-year-old readers), to some pretty bizarre search requests.
Sheridan says you never know what you’re going to encounter when you spend most of your day at the public library.
“I guess I would say that what’s so awesome about working [in a public library,]” Sheridan told Business Insider. “It’s sort of my tagline, that we welcome everyone. When you start to think about what that means, we could wait on a state senator, we could wait on a homeless person.”
Here’s how it works:
- Librarians can submit their stories to Sheridan on the Tumblr page.
- They create a title for their story and have the option to upload photographs.
- There’s a limited risk involved in sharing their tales — their names do not appear next to the stories they submit, so they can vent anonymously.
- Moderators of the blog then pick and choose which submissions to publish.
The Tumblr is definitely worth a read. But beware, it might change the way you look at your local librarian. She could be trash talking you on Tumblr.
Here are 13 of our favourite stories from “I work at a public library.”
13. This female librarian went head to head with a kindergartner on the subject of gender identity.
“Questions about my gender come up every time I do outreach with kids. Yesterday, I visited a kindergarten class.
Kid: Are you a girl or a boy?
Me: I’m a girl.
Kid: You look like a boy.
Me: Some girls look like boys.
Kid: You want to see something cool?
He then proceeded to take off his prosthetic foot.
Kid: It’s my new foot.”
12. Sometimes, librarians are heart throbs of library patrons.
“One day, a regular library patron approached to tell me he would like to take me on a trip to Vietnam. He raved about how beautiful it is there and how much I would love the trip and then he said he could only afford to pay for half of my expenses and I would have to pay the other half. I thanked him politely but told him I didn’t think my husband would approve.”
11. We can’t believe this librarian actually tried to resolve the woman’s complaint.
“An elderly woman telephoned the library and it was clear she was very upset. Her request was ‘you need to tell them to stop playing music over the trains.’ I wasn’t sure what she was talking about so I asked her several questions.
I learned that she was upset because the television show she was watching was showing a video of trains, but they were playing music over the sound of the trains. She explained that her father had been an engineer and the sound of the trains comforted her. After assuring her that I would look into it, I disconnected the call. I spent an hour looking at TV guide listings and trying to see who I needed to contact. Turns out our library has a television channel that shows train videos accompanied by classical music.”
10. Young or old, it’s hard not to love your local librarian.
“A kid walked out of story time and came right to the front desk.
Kid: Yes, hello, I heard a story today and I’d like to get the book. And could you ask the lady to come over to my house and read it? She did a good job.”
9. Some people just don’t understand what the job description of a librarian does and does not include.
“A man entered the library with a stack of papers.
Man: Can you file my taxes for me?
Me: I’m sorry, I can’t. But I can share with you information on how to find help filing your taxes if you’d like.
Man: I just don’t feel like dealing with them, you know? Well, can I just leave these papers here for a minute while I go get something?
It’s one week later and he still hasn’t come back.”
8. It seems like public libraries are filled with crazy people.
“A patron kept taking library books into the restroom and leaving them there to be found later.
Me: Sir, please stop taking library materials into the restroom.
Man: Can I take my own books into the bathroom? I get bored in there.”
7. Librarians are way more tech savvy than their patrons.
“Patron: Can you help me print this YouTube video?”
6. Maybe he just really wanted to read.
“Patron: There’s a goat trying to come in the library.
Me: I’m sorry, what?
Patron: There’s a goat trying to come in the library.
And there was.”
5. It remains unclear whether the librarian approved the commercial
“Me [answering phone]: Thanks for calling the library, may I help you?
Man: I’d like to talk with you about filming an advertisement in the library. It would feature biscuits and a live alpaca.”
4. Librarians find crazy things in returned books.
3. Sometimes, the patrons are just playing games with them.
“Me [answering phone]: Hello, this is the library, may I help you?
Woman: Would you like to play a guessing game?
Me: I’m sorry?
Woman: Let’s play a game: I’ll give you a hint and you guess what book I’m looking for.
Me: Sure, ok.
Woman: The book I’m looking for is about a Midwestern woman who enters sweepstakes…
Me: ‘The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio?’
Woman: That’s it! Here’s another: the book I’m looking for is a teen book that was just made into a movie and the author has a colourful name.
Me: ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ by John Green?
Woman: Well, well! You are really good. One more?
Me [on a roll!]: Sure!
Woman: The last book I’m looking for has a curse word in the title and is based on a popular Twitter account.
Me [excitedly]: ‘Shit My Dad Says?’
Woman: I knew you could do it! You win a prize!
And then she hung up.
Me [at the dial tone]: Hello?
(I never got her library card number so I couldn’t order the books for her).”
“A patron approached the desk, looking confused.
Me: Can I help you with anything?
Patron: Do you know why I have epilepsy?
Me: No, I don’t.
1. One librarian found this in an early literacy kit.
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