Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sunday April 1st, 2012 Library Humour

Libraries have long been thought of as quiet places filled with serious people working on important projects. While this may be true some of the time, Library staff also find a lot to laugh about at work. From books on dog training which come back chewed, to interesting items found in the book drops, we do find a lot of humour in our work.

It’s always a bit strange when you see someone out of their usual context. When children see their favourite staff person outside the library we never know what they will say. Bev Fisher, who conducted Children’s programs at Mary J.L. Black Library for many years knows this well. “The children were always amazed to see me in public places and I had many names besides “Miss Fisher”. There was Mrs. Fisherman, Puppet Lady and Story Teacher. I heard one small voice say, “Look Mommy, there is Mary Black!””

The show must go on, and puppet shows are no exception. Two staff members were booked to perform “The Old Black Witch” puppet show one afternoon. One of them was not feeling well, but was encouraged by the other, who happened to be her supervisor, to stay and do the show. You can imagine how bad the supervisor felt when he found out the next day the staff person was suffering from appendicitis and had emergency surgery that night! She received a lovely bouquet of flowers at the hospital addressed to “The Old Black Witch”!

Our circulation desk staff have heard a lot of stories from people with overdue materials. One of my favourites is about a woman who was quite sure she had returned three books on time. She returned to the Library a few weeks later with the books and sheepishly admitted she found them in her freezer! She had been shopping and gathered up her groceries and books and put them all away in the freezer.

Sometimes people are reluctant to ask questions at the Library, even though we are here to answer them. One staff member had observed a teenage boy wandering around the Library obviously looking for something. She asked if he needed help, but he became embarrassed and said, “No.” It was obvious from his body language that he was becoming more and more confused. Thinking it was something serious, she approached him and explained that at a Library no one judges you, so there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and that it’s important to have reliable information. She was thinking the whole time that he was going to ask about something like birth control, STDs or drugs. Finally in a quiet whisper he asked, “Who wrote Shakespeare’s Hamlet?”

Many staff members started working at the Library as teenagers. One Librarian confessed that for her first shift as a thirteen year old “Page” she was told she would be working on a Saturday “ten to one”. Thinking this was a strange time to start work, but perhaps a test of her promptness, she reported to work at 12:50 p.m. only to discover her shift was almost over! She was as red-faced as only a teenager can be, but is still here thirty years later!

Periodically Library staff go through the collection and remove items that are dated, in poor condition or just not used. This process is called weeding. We have found a few interesting items when weeding. One gem of a book is “Dee Snider’s Teenage Survival Guide or how to be a legend in your own lunchtime”. Dee Snider was in the heavy metal band Twister Sister, an unlikely candidate for a teenage role model! For more about books like this, visit the blog At this blog library staff share interesting items weeded from library collections – it’s always good for a laugh!

Do you have a funny story about the Library? Share it on our Facebook page!

Joanna Aegard

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