Friday, July 15, 2011

The deskslave is Left Wondering, Stewing

The spry older woman wanted a somewhat obscure local history. As I searched, I began making excuses for why we probably wouldn't have it. But it was there! At our very library! I always give people the option of finding it for themselves with the call number or being lead to it by a skilled professional. Or at least me. You never know if the patron is going to be like me (my motto: turn on the lights and get out of my way) or if they need some assistance. She wanted to be shown.

The book had not been checked out in years, which always worries me. Who knows, the fact that it isn't actually there might account for it not getting checked out. But there it was and I presented it to her and began walking back to the desk.

After a few seconds, I heard her say, "Now what do I do?"

I walked with her to the circ desk area. I gave her the self-check vs. circ clerk spiel. Turns out she didn't have a card. So I launched into my getting-a-card spiel which emphasizes the simplicity and speed of the transaction.

"I don't want one."

"Oh. It's really easy..."

"I said I. Don't. Want. One."

I shrugged, a little put out. I told her that her that she had to read it inside the building. After a bit of back and forth about the nature of checking out books, she told me that her husband probably had a card and could probably come in and check out the book. She said this as though her husband was currently lost in Siberia and would have to walk. She told me to "hold it under..." and began to give me his name. I interrupted her.

I hate this one. I used to work at a library where we'd hold books for people without cards and they would invariably not come in. At the end of the day there'd be a stack of books, often highly desirable items needed for school assignments, sitting there unclaimed. And also invariably someone would come in days after we had reshelved theri book all upset that we didn't hold their item like we said we would. AND the fact that it's on pseudo-hold won't be reflected in the catalog also irks me and offends my orderly library librarian sensibilities. If somebody else came in looking for the item, they'd be told that it was on the shelf and it wouldn't be. So there. I outlined some of this to her, taking pains to use words like "fairness."

"So you won't reserve it for me?"

"Well, I'm really not supposed to," I waffled, getting ready to cave. I'm such a marshmallow.

"But it says right there," pointing to a nearby book cart, "that if I want to reserve a book, all I have to do is put it on that shelf!" She was getting mad.

I read the sign on the cart. "Ummm... that says 'reshelve,' not 'reserve.' You can put a book there to be reshelved."

As a postscript to this, I did cave and told her that I would hold it at the desk but only until close. I instructed her to tell her husband to come to the desk since it would not go to the holds shelf.

Hours later, I was annoyed by an older man scanning the holds shelf. He had evidently lost most of his hearing. I could tell this because his ring tone was unbelievably loud. I stood up to confront him about this, but the ringing stopped and I sat down.

The "You Have Voicemail" sound was not as loud, but still set my teeth on edge. It happened again. I pondered why it was that people with loud or otherwise annoying ring tones also have their phones ring 8 or 9 times before going over to message.

The guy evidently couldn't find his hold and enlisted a circ clerk to help him. I did not put it together that he was the husband of the card refusenik. I only went over when he started to yell at the clerk. I got it sorted out, though the old guy was VERY angry about it since his wife was assured that we would hold the book for him. So we were punished for trying to be nice. The last word was from the circ clerk who condescendingly informed me, after the guy left that we only place holds for people with cards.

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