The Library: A Wonderful Yet Bizarre Place

The general population seems to think that the library is a safe place. DON’T make this mistake. I see things, and deal with people on a daily basis that would seem normal only in a psychiatric hospital. I have a coworker who (half) jokes that many patrons should get the call number for the material they seek, along with a diagnosis for their apparent affliction(s). Sadly, librarians are not allowed to provide medical advice… Or dispense prescriptions.

Don’t get me wrong, the library is a fantastic place, and I encourage you to use your public library. There, you have access to an amazing amount of information, and expert guidance to the best resources for the information you seek via professional librarians. In addition to books, libraries now lend CDs, and DVDs, audiobooks (MP3s), and also offer access to subscription databases that offer full-text periodicals that you would otherwise only get on the Internet by paying a fee. Libraries are also community centers, sponsoring lectures on timely topics from finances to hiking, as well as storytimes for children. Many libraries are also free WiFi hotspots. Libraries are exceedingly useful, and cool places!

At this time, I would like to point out that not everyone working in a library is a librarian. Librarians are managers, we have Master’s Degrees in library science. We are experts in human-computer interaction, information seeking behavior, organization and research. We do NOT shelve books, or sit around reading all-day long.

But I digress… Some people feel so comfortable in the library that they drop their children off for extended periods of time with no supervision. They feel that the library is a safe place. I can not emphasize enough that it isn’t. Many libraries have regular patrons who are homeless, and/or mentally ill. These people use the library as their living room on a regular basis. Many of them have criminal records, are alcoholics or drug addicts, and have deep seated mental problems.

This blog will primarily chronicle my experiences dealing with our more unusual patrons, who my coworkers and I regularly refer to as our, “Irregulars,” and the bizarre things that happen on a regular basis where I work (which, by the way, is a mid-sized suburban library). In my next post, I’ll describe our most interesting Irregulars…

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~ by Woeful on January 14, 2007.

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