“We’re a public library, so we have a public bathroom”

“We’re a public library, so we have a public bathroom”

I heard this the other day while I was in a library, I heard it and immediately loved it. So many times we deal with the public and sometimes their questions actually do qualify as stupid questions.

I’ve had my fair share of stupid questions from the public and of course the outrageous questions. There have been days when I need to bite my tongue to prevent a sarcastic remark. One day a patron asked me if he could ask me a question. I of course said yes, but in my head I wanted to say you already did, do you have another one?

Working in the library, you meet and have to deal with many people. Some people you will love and will absolutely adore as they tell you about how they heard about the book or movie they’re checking out, then you’ll get the people who never walk in to the library and make the lovely comments like “Oh, I never knew you guys existed”, or you’ll get the town officials come in whom are trying to close you so you need to act pleasant, and then of course you’ll get the ones that are the usual and you ask how their day has been, and how everything is going. You’ll met the most amazing people in the library, and although you want to have a relationship with them, you always want to make sure it is kept professional.

There are, of course, a few exceptions to this rule, but try for the most part to keep your relationship professional. And when you get a patron in who offends you or you frankly can’t stand. If you can’t hand the patron off to another librarian, simply grin and bear it. I’ve been told several times that you can’t annoy anyone, as long as you say it with a smile.”

I do have to state, if you are a very sarcastic person, like myself, you must keep your sarcasm out of the work place. Most people do not enjoy sarcasm, and it, in fact, offends them. And you wouldn’t want to lose a patron due to you trying to make a joke.

Another thing, and maybe the last thing, you want to keep your personal life out of the library. You don’t want to broadcast your personal life. If a close patron asks what you did for the weekend, sure you can answer, but if you say “Oh, I went on a vacation” or “It was a family emergency” and the patron continues to press, just simply tell the patron that you don’t feel comfortable sharing that information or that, that information is just family information.

So, all in all, you deal the public all the time, and the public’s eyes are constantly on you. And sure you’ll get patrons who will ask to use your bathrooms, and you will of course think of something like “We’re a public library, so we have a public bathroom”, but try to keep professional, calm, and overall happy.

What are some of your most memorable quotes or “stupid” questions? Do you have any hints dealing with patrons that annoy you?

Small Town Librarian

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