Things That Spell Our Doom: Library Annoyances Edition

Little known fact: Freshman year, I liked the Wiess Servery. Shocking, I know. I liked the waffle machine–basically any part of breakfast–and I didn’t mind things like Servery Salt Soup or “brownies” that were made of stale cereal lightly coated in chocolate or dinner made from leftover breakfast. These things just didn’t bother me all that much. Fast forward to senior year, when the mere sight of Recycled Egg Soup would send me off on a rant so longwinded that I would often forget to eat anything at all. Fast forward to now, when I don’t remember why it pissed me off so much; it was the same economizing that I do all the time. The same with the Sid Music. Every Friday afternoon Sid Rich would blast music across campus. Freshman year, I was okay with that. It seemed like a nice way to start the weekend as I walked back from class. By senior year, it filled me with undirected rage. Okay, partially because I’d gotten smart enough not to have class on Fridays, so was usually taking an afternoon nap when it started blaring. I would mutter about how presumptuous it was to assume that everyone wanted to be annoyed with inescapable loudness, to just assume that everyone shared their taste in music, and make my escape to the relative peace of Humble, home of Steven Wiggins and the Houston dump.

Okay, maybe that last one was a bad example because I still think that one of the privileges of independence is never being forced to listen to random strangers’ music again. But, anyway, my point is, it’s easy for seemingly small, inconsequential things to gradually become terribly annoying if left long enough. Natch the library is no different.

Annoying Thing #1: This is not the grocery store, give me your GD library card.
It surprises me that more than half of the patrons I deal with in any given day come up to me, stack their mountains of books in neat, time-consuming piles on my desk, and then stare at me like I’m an idiot. “This stupid newb librarian,” I imagine them thinking. “She should have started on the first stack while I was laboriously piling the second and third for her. I curse her and all of her descendants for holding me up.”
“Do you have your card?” I say politely.
“Oh!” they cry, surprised (that they would need such a thing? At the LIBRARY? Surely you jest!) and begin digging around in their purse.
This happens at least twelve times a day, mostly with people who seem to use the library regularly, so you’d think they’d know the drill. At first, this didn’t bother me that much. It was mean to just assume that everyone, even people who use the library regularly, would also know that I have to scan a card first before I do anything. Then, slowly, it started to annoy me because they seemed shocked that they needed their library card AT ALL. I didn’t give it to you because I love non-recyclable plastic, my friends. It’s true that a library card isn’t technically necessary for checking out books. I can look up accounts by last name. I guess it’s possible that library patrons expect me to know their names by heart so that I can look up their accounts the moment I see them to be rid of all this cumbersome card-producing business. My other theory is that people mistakenly believe the library is like a store, where they scan all your purchases and only ask for your credit card at the end. After all, children almost NEVER forget. This mollified my irrational anger, somewhat. But I still get irrationally annoyed when the 20th person in a day is shocked when I ask for a library card. I’m pretty lucky that this is my main annoyance.

Annoying Thing #2: Sorry, can I direct you to the nearest elementary school?
Another question I get asked a lot: “When does the class start?”
I pause, trying to remember if there’s any classes at the library today. Then, realization dawning, “You mean… toddler storytime?”
This by itself, not that annoying. Even being referred to as a teacher, not that irritating, if a little confusing. It’s when I have to field complaints like “I’m not sure my preschooler is learning to read from storytime. You aren’t doing a very good job of teaching phonics” or “How educational IS this craft about alligators?”. Natch any program at the library is going to be somewhat educational, but I’m not a reading teacher. I’m not even a school library media specialist. I am a librarian (sort of) and I will during story times I will teach your toddler animal noises and that puppets are shy and will only come out when you’re quiet. Storytimes encourage reading, they don’t teach it.

The Most Annoying Thing Of All: Shoes With Squeakers
Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak.
Is someone abusing a squeaky toy? Why is it coming closer? Is it a dog eviscerating a chew toy?
NO IT’S A CHILD WITH SQUEAKERS IN THE HEELS OF HIS SHOES.
I mean, I get that children get lost a lot, and these sure as hell make them easy to find. They are also possibly the single most annoying thing I have ever encountered. I assume the parents just stop hearing it after awhile, but for me each squeak is scraping away at my soul. People stare at me, silently ordering me to do my job and make the noise stop. I am not sure how to tell a kid to take off his shoes because this is a library. Seriously. If someone you hate has a child, this should be your baby gift. Except probably the parents will be blithely unaware of their mind-destroying powers, having already become immune to persistent, annoying sounds with the birth of their child, and will feel no shame at all in taking them to definitively quiet places like the library wearing these exciting new shoes. Then they will be shocked that they need their library card and complain about educational values in Curious George and I will die slowly inside.

4 responses to “Things That Spell Our Doom: Library Annoyances Edition”

  1. Uncle Bill says:

    Whew! I’m glad you got that out of your system!

    Deep cleansing, breathe in…..

    Now, slowly exhale……..

    Thanks for the angst!

    PS – Interacting with imbeciles is common in all work environments, which explains the universal, international popularity of “The Office”.

  2. Uncle Bill says:

    New sitcom idea.

    “The Library” – good size for ensemble cast/cheap sets/minimal location changes/easy to set camera “reveals” that peer through book stacks instead of blinds/romance between smart and pretty librarian and hipster computer IT guy/factional rivalries between library department heads/ass clown “Assistant TO the Children’s Librarian” character……

    It practically writes itself!

    ; )

  3. Rob says:

    I had no idea about these squeaker shoes, and now all I want is a pair! Just look at this happy customer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAMi_nFcN10

  4. I’ve personally always been a fan of the shoes that have lights in them. Although now that I think about it, I don’t understand how somebody could come up with the concept of Shoes That Make Noise and not instantly jumped to GIFT CARD SOUNDCHIP IN THE HEELS

    Like seriously? Why have squeaking shoes when you could have MUSICAL SHOES

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