Innocence

Night is a strange time @ the Library.

Nights tend to have a much mellower vibe than days. This allows the reference librarians to spend more time with patrons who require research assistance. It’s always nice to be more one-on-one with people who need help… When they are more or less “normal” people who need help anyway.

Tonight I got stuck with a patron that a colleague refers to as, “Yukon Cornelius.” Yukon is about 80 years old. He wears a large fur hat like they do in Russia so they don’t freeze to death out in the harsh winter air. Another coworker tells me that Yukon has been visiting the library for decades, and that each time he visits he asks the same questions regarding how to carry out mundane tasks, such as how to use the copiers. The curious thing is that Yukon is a published author who has traveled to every continent. He has managed to find his way to Antarctica, but no matter how many times he’s told, he can’t figure out how to make a photocopy on his own. We often joke that he probably boarded the wrong plane, and it just happened to be going to the South Pole…

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about one of our high school part time workers. About half-way through the night, she told me that some, “creepy Indian guy” in the Library’s financial area has been staring at her while she shelves the new magazines. She said that he doesn’t look away or smile at her, he just stares and stares. She told me that at one point, she couldn’t help it but laugh.

Sadly, this isn’t anything new. We’ve had reports of other men staring at her, and at other female high school students working @ the Library while they’re shelving items. My advice to her was to stay away from the creepy guy. I didn’t expect to hear her talking about this so candidly. Teens never emote so well, and this caught me off guard. Consequently, I didn’t know what else to say. In retrospect, I should have stressed that in no way should she smile at the creepy guy lest he get the wrong impression. This is an awkward thing, since she is sheltered, and naive. She has no clue yet about creepy guys, and about what impression she might be giving to creepy guys by giggling as they stare.

I really need to mention this the next time I see her…

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~ by Woeful on December 11, 2007.

11 Responses to “Innocence”

  1. Does Yukon Cornelius come to the library to prospect for silver and gold?

  2. Ugh, I can’t tell you how many times me and my coworkers have had creepy guys stare at us or hit on us. Do you have any kind of security at your library? We tend to give our security monitors a heads up when there are creepy guys around just so they can keep an eye on us and make sure we’re not getting creepy’ed at, haha. ;D

  3. LOL… Hi Eric: That’s a great reference for this time of year isn’t it! ‘Tis the season to gawk at underage girls, and mine for copier toner…

  4. Sadly, we have no security guards because the City I work for is to cheap to provide them. That said, we do have regular police patrols come through in a highly visible manner, which has proven to be fairly effective under most circumstances.

  5. We’ve had to ban three patrons for gawking/catcalling/general harassment over the last 3+ years I’ve worked there. The boldness of some is…unbelievable to me.

    It also amazes me how carelessly our work-studies handle the situations. It seems they are inclined to glance back, smile a bit…egg it on, almost. I think some younger women don’t understand the repercussions of even the tiniest encouragement.

    When it happens to me, I just shoot him the Librarian Look of Death. Unless he’s cute, of course…

  6. Hi K: This behavior doesn’t really surprise me. But it is important for the gawkees to be mindful of the high freak factor involved. There are a lot of decent people who hang in the library too, so the Library can also be a great place to meet people, but the middle-aged guys gawking at teenage girls are not those people… Very creepy!

  7. Yes, I know that there are cool people in the library…but most of the cool people don’t stare down high school kids when they’re shelving books.

  8. I think working in a public library without a guard is not acceptable. If we (the libs) had to do ANY of the things we’ve asked our guards to do – just in the last week – it would require substantial additional training, not to mention physical authority.

    Our book of Potential Problem Patrons is a 4″ binder with eyewitness accounts, security camera photos, and guard reports. Everything from profanity to assault to attempted solicitation of a child is in there, just in the last 6 months – and we’re in a tidy suburban setting.

    It is just not in my job description or training to break up fights or detain lawbreakers until the cops show up.

    I know for a fact we would cut professional staff before we would give up our guards.

  9. Also, I knew someone just like your Yukon… the Bat Man, Dr. Karl Koopman – you can look him up. He’s dead now, I can say it: one of the world’s all-time authorities on chiroptera, he was also 4′ tall (and 4′ wide), EXTREMELY feminine in body and voice, swore foully and incessantly, and was unable to operate a machine as simple as an elevator. After he died, a 6′ tall cabinet in his office was found to be stuffed with empty bags of Pepperidge Farm cookies.

    And yet he would travel to the remotest parts of the Amazon, Central Africa, Sudan, wading through jungle and desert, and catch bats in mist nets.

    You never know.

  10. “we would cut professional staff before we would give up our guards.”

    This is a profoundly sad statement… Sad that this should even be necessary.

    Hi YNL: We don’t think it’s a good situation either. However, it’s what we have to work with… Or without as is the case. One of my colleagues often remarks that what we should really have are psychology degrees, and makes jokes in the staff room that reference transactions should go like this: “Here is your call number, your diagnosis, and lastly your prescription… Next!”

    When I was in Library School, I didn’t think that most of what I do today would be in my job description… From dealing with Alzheimer’s patients, to moving furniture, to plumbing, to policing the PCs. We need to be very hands on @ the Library or things never get done. For example, our Director has been waiting for over two years for the City’s IT Department to fix a problem with software on her PC that only they can fix.

    We really do work with stone knives and bearskins. People in the corporate sector would be flummoxed by what we accomplish given that we have so little at our disposal. Until about a year ago we were still using a few PCs that were running Windows 95!

    If corporate America would like to see people who can improvise, adapt, and overcome while consistently producing quality results, they need not look any farther than their local public libraries. I feel like I’m freaking MacGyver half the time I’m at work!

  11. You never know is right.

    I don’t mind helping the guy, it’s what I do! But he’s one of those people who never shuts up, and has no fewer than a dozen questions ever either, so while you’re trying to formulate a query to find question number one, he’s slinging crap anecdotes about how he took the Orient Express in 1871, going on and on and then asking you questions, all while you’re trying to think about how to get the answer he needs… I just want to say, “Can you just shut the fuck up for one minute? If you can I can do a faster, and better job.” But I don’t, I just keep smiling and nodding my head, and trying to ignore him until I find what he needs… And then he asks the next question of the dozen… on and on…

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