Posted by: bluesyemre | May 16, 2019

Things I have learned about the general public whilst working at the #library by @grumpwitch


The Librarian, painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

1. A huge number of people under 20 can’t read face clocks, having grown up with only digital one.

2. Many people don’t know how to spell “library.” It’s in our email address. This causes problems

3. A disturbing number of young people don’t actually know how book-lending at the library works. They assume it costs money! Teach your children about libraries!

4. Crime and thriller are basically the same thing in many cases. In fact, we have doubles of books because of that.

5. People use hidden codes like asterisks to mark which books they’ve read. Please don’t do that! The system will let you know if you’ve already borrowed something! Just ask.

6. If an automatic door breaks, people will walk into it instead of reading the sign at face height.

7. Libraries are a godsend for blind and deaf people and not just for audiobooks. They can come for help with filling out forms and getting directions.

8. Some elderly people go through books at a TERRIFYING rate. They are to be feared and respected.

9. Some people are so afraid of computers that they will come to you with a query and then become upset if you offer to look it up on the computer instead of in a book.

10. Some people have never, ever used a telephone. Especially older women. Their husband did it for them.

11. The DWP fuck over everyone but especially the most vulnerable and I haven’t met a single library worker who hasn’t helped struggling library users with food or phone calls or even a cup of tea when it’s cold and they can’t afford heating.

12. The Jobcentre regularly lie to people and like to tell them they can get services at libraries that simply do not exist. We will try our very best to help you get what you should have been given at the Jobcentre.

13. Most banks assume that everyone has an email now. In fact, some people have trouble proving that they exist at all without one.

14. Library folk are good folk. We do this because we are passionate about it. We have to be.

15. Libraries aren’t quiet anymore. They’re community hubs now. They may have quiet study areas but most libraries are bustling with activity. Between kids’ classes, singing and memory groups for those with Dementia, craft sessions and noisy office equipment, don’t expect silence

16. Libraries remain the only place where you can spend hours in a publicly-accessible building without being expected to spend money. Parents come to entertain their children for free on wet days. People in poverty come for a warm place to sit. Libraries are a haven.

17. Some people will go their entire lives only reading 2-3 authors but still have enough material to read a book every month. (See also: Danielle Steel, James Patterson, Clive Cussler, etc.)

18. A library lives and dies by the staff on the counter. You can have the best funding, all of the books and tech in the world but you’ll only get footfall if your staff go above and beyond. Sometimes even that doesn’t work, though and it’s frustrating.

19. We’re funded based on footfall. I’ve seen staff cry because we lost a youth group to a private hall that has fancier facilities like a cafe. We need all the footfall we can get.

20. Staff are hitting their heads against walls volunteering to create events, classes and groups only to have them shot down because local councils don’t understand social media or want to charge for it. I can’t overemphasise just how much unpaid work staff do.

21. Most of the facilities are only working because staff pay out of pocket to get things working. My manager bought a new laminator when we couldn’t afford one. She buys in colouring materials for kids. We sometimes bring in our own stationery. We even but lightbulbs in.

22. Authors don’t like to visit little libraries because they don’t get paid. Bookstores often pay.

23. The “sexy librarian” trope has actually done a LOT of harm and has caused countless incidences of sexual assault by men who can’t tell the difference between porn and reality.

24. Old ladies keep libraries in business. Old ladies who read are the best. Old ladies who can tell you exactly which page features the most gruesome murder scene are the very best.

25. Library staff ALWAYS want to know what you thought of the book. We want to know what to recommend to others!

26. I’m not supposed to have favourite library users but I do: I love library couples, who bicker over each others’ reading tastes or share books and then argue about the themes.

27. The single best moment, for me, is when a library user graduates from Young Adult to Adult and suddenly the entire library is open to them! They can read anything! No more tiny teen section! All of the classics! Sci fi! Horror!

28. And finally, because I’ve spammed you long enough and because my typos are mounting up, remember this: Library staff can overcome many challenges but Book Gods help you if you deprive us of caffeine. You don’t want to see what happens then.


  1. I have worked at a library for a couple years now- and I have noticed many of the things you have mentioned–and you are so right about the senior citizens- reading machines…


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