Just Another Day At Your Local Public Library

By: Bryan Alexander

We librarians are expected to check out your books and answer your reference questions, but we’re often called upon to perform other tasks. A Facebook pal recently asked her fellow librarians: “What has been your most memorable ‘other duty’ since you began your career?” The responses she received might surprise people who think that library work is quiet and humdrum:

Putting pajamas on a llama. (He was part of a story time presentation.)

Breaking up fights between moms in our play area.

Furnace repair.

Shutting down a couple who was making whoopee in the Women’s Bathroom. (I was the very definition of “coitus interruptus.”)

Guiding the bomb squad as they slowly and methodically combed through our two-story library. (Empty phone threat — phew!)

Administering first aid to a patron who had just been stabbed.

I do Potty Story Time, so once every three months I spend 30 minutes extolling the virtues of pooping in a toilet to a room full of strangers.

Posing for stock photos.

Pulling weeds.

Shoveling sidewalks.

Tending chickens.

Distracting the student who’d threatened a prof with a gun before hiding out at the library until the police arrived.

Checking to see if the dude who’d been in his car in our parking lot for hours, motionless, was dead. (He wasn’t. Just sound asleep.)

Holding a bag containing a baby wallaby so it would stay calm during a story time presentation.

Chasing down and tackling the jerk who grabbed our “Donate Your Spare Change To the Library” canister and ran out the door with it.

Removing a black widow spider.

Helping patrons apply for Moose Permits.

Climbing onto the roof to retrieve a young patron’s favorite stuffed animal.

Administering CPR to a patron who had a coronary in the Reading Room. (He survived.)

Making a sign for one of our bathrooms that read: “There is a live duck in the bathroom. Do not let it out. Use the other bathroom.”

The next time the line backs up at your library’s circulation desk because there’s only one librarian on duty instead of the usual two? Don’t get angry. That other librarian may be busy fixing the furnace, holding a wallaby, shoveling the sidewalk… or saving a life.

(Roz Warren  is the author of OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR  This piece first appeared on Womens Voices For Change.)

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