Libraries are a wonderful thing. You can borrow books that you want to read or need for a class but don’t want to or can’t afford to buy. You can borrow a movie or CD and preview it before you decide if you want to buy it. Many libraries share resources, so if your local library doesn’t have what you are looking for, they can get it from another library for you. They also offer free Internet access, a variety of classes and programs for all ages, and so much more. Your tax dollars are well spent on public libraries.
As a former library employee, it was nice to be able to help patrons find books and other resources they were looking for. It was a good feeling to get somebody on the right track with their research or to help somebody that wasn’t Internet savvy to find a site they were looking for. Working in a library, especially a public one, was challenging, too, and not just from a reference standpoint. Working with the public was (and still is) interesting to say the least.
Probably the worst part of my job was dealing with “problem patrons.” You have the patrons who pitch a fit when they owe $.05 in fines for an overdue book, becasue they swear up and down it was turned in on time. Compare this to patrons who owe $50 and pay it with no trouble at all. Then you have the child running around unsupervised. When mom hears her child being loud, she proceeds to yell across the library to her child to be quiet. I was always on the lookout for professional development opportunities that address how to deal with unhappy customers. Generally, though, patrons are great and library staff are willing to work with unhappy or “problem” patrons to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement.
Have you had any unusual library experience? Found some out-of-print treasure that you were surprised the library had or could get for you?