More things they don’t teach you in library school

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Let me start this off by saying that the library in which I work is a downtown, city-center branch and we have quite a large amount of homeless people who come in and use our library. I assume that this is common in many public libraries. The library welcomes everyone in the community to use it.

Okay, so yesterday my colleague tells me that when one of the regular guys that plants himself at the listening station for half the day gives her the headphones that he borrowed back to her, another patron comes up to her and says, “you better wash those headphones with alcohol when people are done with them or someone is going to get tuberculosis.” TUBERCULOSIS. And I’m handling these things, and more all day.

yikes.

And that reminded me of the time at a staff meeting not long ago another colleague, who was reporting on a health workshop that she had gone to, had mentioned that staph infection is rampant among the homeless community right now, and that includes the flesh-eating kind. FLESH EATING.

I think there are some latent germ phobias within me coming to the surface…

Porn Police

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Oh. My. God.:

Two uniformed men strolled into the main room of the Little Falls library in Bethesda one day last week and demanded the attention of all patrons using the computers. Then they made their announcement: The viewing of Internet pornography was forbidden.

The men looked stern and wore baseball caps emblazoned with the words “Homeland Security.” The bizarre scene unfolded Feb. 9, leaving some residents confused and forcing county officials to explain how employees assigned to protect county buildings against terrorists came to see it as their job to police the viewing of pornography.

I am imagining this scenario in the public library in which I work. And I am dumbfounded. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

The article goes on to explain that the two officers will be disciplined. THANK GOD. Thank God somebody understands the whole point of the library and that it exists to recognize one’s constitutional right of privacy. Much to the Bush’s Admin’s dismay, but nevertheless. The librarians are trying, anyway.

How awful for the patrons of the library! Can you imagine? Your sitting at your local public library’s internet station, innocently reading your e-mail or perusing your daily blogroll adn some asshole in a uniform comes in and annouces that looking at porn is forbidden. Wha??? First of all, we aren’t living in Nazi Germany, second of all, who says everyone in the library looks at porn? It’s actually very rare that people come into the library to look at porn. Once in awhile there are one or two people, but not really all that common.

sigh. Damn Neo-fascists.

Read the Washington Post article here. And thanks to Mandrake from Daffodil Lane for pointing me to it!

Overheard

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Here are a couple of comments I overheard in the Children’s area of the library last week:

Girl walks up to dad and says, “Dad, there’s a book I want to check out, is that okay?”

Dad: “What’s the name of it?”

Girl says the name but all I remember is that it has “Salem” in the title.

Dad: “That doesn’t sound good. I don’t think so.”

Girl: “Why”

Dad: “Because Salem has to do with Witchcraft. I don’t want you around that.”

Wow.

Here’s another one along those lines:

Little boy: “I want to check this one out, mom.”

Mom: “No. You can’t check that one out. That’s a yucky book.”

They walk away so I turn around to see what this “yucky book” is. It’s a Harry Potter book

Amazing, isn’t it? These people really do exist.

I am running into some interesting characters, working in a public library. For example, just now we had to tell a patron at the listening station that he had to turn down the volume on the machine. We could hear Brittney Spears through the headphones. The guy was really nice about turning the music down, but then he said that when he listens to music it is transmitted to the whole world.

Interesting.

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