• I work at a public library and I love my job. But sometimes our patrons make the tougher than it has to be. I recently asked my fellow librarians to help me come up with a “wish list” of things, big and small, serious and frivolous, that you can do to make your favorite librarian happy.

    So what can the library-going public do to help us better serve our patrons and enjoy our jobs?

    1. Greet me before launching into your request. You don’t have to ask how I am. Just say “Hello.”

    2. Your library card? Don’t leave home without it.

    3. Return everything on time. Or pay your fines with a smile.

    4. Keep the phone calls, food and drama outside.

    5. Push in your chair after you use the computer.

    6. Don’t come to the library if you have a contagious illness.  We love our patrons, but not their colds.

    7. Put away your phone when you’re talking to me.

    8. Don’t put your trash in the book drop.

    9. Say Please and Thank You.

    10. Keep in mind that librarians are only human. When we make mistakes, don’t scream at us. Instead, try to be forgiving.

    11. Moms and nannies? Stop gabbing with each other during story time, and participate in the songs, stories and rhymes with your children.

    12. Learn to use the catalog computer.

    13. Wait your turn instead of interrupting when I’m helping somebody else.

    14. Stop looking at porn on our public computers.

    15. Don’t snap your fingers to get my attention.  I’m not a dog.

    16. Let us know how the toddlers we sang to at story time are doing now that they’re grown. We love to hear about them.

    17. Never apologize for bothering me when you ask a reference question. It‘s not a bother. It‘s my job.

    18. Don’t go ballistic when we won’t let you check material out without your library card or ID.

    19. Supervise your kids. Don’t let them run wild. It’s a library, not a playground.

    20. This isn’t Match.com. Stop hitting on library staff.

    21. Don‘t slip the book that Fido chewed up into the book drop and hope we don’t notice the damage. Fess up. Say “I ruined this book and I’d like to pay for it.”

    22. Please refrain from discussing your religious or political beliefs with me.

    23. Ask with a fully formed question. Don’t just walk up to the reference desk and blurt  “London” or Aztecs.”

    24. Don’t EVER call me “girl.”

    25. Bathe. And for the Love of Pete, please brush your teeth before leaning in to ask me a reference question.

    26. Don’t ask me to show you how to use the photocopier when what you really want is for me to do your photocopying for you.

    27. Please please please don’t attempt to re-shelve the books!! That’s our job, and we’re happy to do it.

    28. Don’t wear so much perfume. I can’t assist you if I can’t breathe.

    29. Don’t use risqué photos, condoms or strips of bacon as bookmarks. Or, if you must, don’t forget to remove them before returning the books.

    30. Communicate with me using words, not grunts or blank stares.

    31. When you phone to renew a book? Have your library card number ready, not in your wallet downstairs or out in the car.

    32. Don’t come into the library unless you’re at least kind of sober.

    33. Before you glare at me for talking too loudly to a patron, consider that the patron I’m talking to might be hard of hearing.

    34. Clean up after yourself when you leave. Don’t make us pick up your dirty tissues, candy wrappers and coffee cups..

    35. Don’t expect me to bend the rules for you. (Or call me rude names when I won’t.)

    36. Don’t come in to apply for a new library card two minutes before we close.

    37. Stop stealing our DVDs.

    38. Leave promptly at closing time. Don’t make us wait around while you finish your last minute photo-copying.

    39. Smile and be kind, to both people and library materials.

    40. Write the library a check during the fund drive, advocate for library funding, tell everyone how much you love the library and come back often.  We wouldn’t be here without you.

    And if you take the trouble to bake us a batch of cookies, send us a holiday card or write us a thank you note? It will make our day.

    What have you done for your favorite librarian lately?  Or what do you wish you’d done?

    You may also enjoy…

    Our Bodies, Our Selves: A Collection of Library Humor
    60 Year-Old Librarian Reveals Her Secret Passion
    Confessions of a Cursing Librarian

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    Article by: Roz Warren

    Roz Warren (www.Rosalindwarren.com) writes for the Funny Times, the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Christian Science Monitor, the Jewish Forward, Reader’s Digest and the Huffington Post. And she’s been on both the Today Show and Morning Edition. Roz is the author of OUR BODIES, OUR SHELVES: A COLLECTION OF LIBRARY HUMOR, which collects her most popular essays about library work.

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    Tell us what you think - Please make your comments

    1. Carol says:

      How about this one – Please don’t ask us to retrieve your keys from the plumbing after you have flushed them down the toilet.

      1. Roz Warren says:


    2. Richard L Guinn says:

      Thank you for this list! As someone who used to work public services, the list totally resonates!

    3. carol says:

      Please don’t hand me your library card right after you remove it from your mouth or right after you remove it from your brassiere. Really!

    4. David says:

      If you do come in with a cold, please read the info to me about the book you want rather than hand me the paper with the info that is next to your used tissue.

      1. Roz Warren says:

        and when you check the book out, don’t take out your library card, cough all over it, and then hand it to me.

    5. Hanna says:

      Don’t forget the “Please kindly hand me your money or card so that I don’t have to pick it up off of the counter.”

      And to the reader stating we were passive aggressive and would be out of a job:
      Kindly, sir, we try our hardest to be nice and respectful. Every now and again, a bit of good fun is needed for us to relieve stresses normally encountered in a public service job. This was meant for giggles and not for angering anyone. And even though technology is improving and as you suggest, print items are becoming less important… we will always be here because people need us for classes (technology, self-improvement), for our public computers, for our audiobooks to listen to while you travel, for our assistance with research, for our genealogy programs, and much more. Libraries aren’t becoming obsolete. We mold and change through the times to best provide for our patrons.

      And not all librarians are “puritanical,” so to speak. Some of us are tattoo wearing, music loving, have fun folks.

    6. hlmurraynh says:

      To add to the “Don’t snap fingers” comment: please don’t ask your computer question while sitting at the computer several feet away.

      A library I used to work at actually had a plaque at the reference desk which read, “Bother us for information”!

      1. Roz Warren says:

        Bother Us For Information? That’s FABULOUS.

    7. Kelly says:

      Ugh- not pushing in your chair is definitely a pet peeve of mine.

    8. 1010ParkPlace says:

      I wasn’t even sure people still went to the library, but with that many things on your wish list, it gives me hope. Brenda

    9. Perry Block says:

      I always thought you liked my perfume!

      1. Roz Warren says:

        i love YOUR perfume, Perry.

    10. Alana says:

      So many of these suggestions are common courtesy, something which seems to have gone missing in today’s world. I’ve spent many happy hours in public libraries (and, at one time, a bookmobile). Shared – I hope no one I know is doing any of the “please don’t do that” stuff.

    11. hillsmom says:

      So, that is quite a list! You left out about stealing the swimsuit magazine issue which always goes missing. (I forget which one). Rule 29 is a hoot!
      Out here in Chesco, the very nice librarian has shown me how to send a fax a couple of times, and I always have change. Now I can do it myself. (So much cheaper than the office supply place.) Cheers, =^..^=

      1. Roz Warren says:

        That would be the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. And yes, I could ask people to stop filching it. But I doubt it would stop them.

    12. Sasha Johns says:

      I’ve baked my librarians brownies this year. True story.

      1. Roz Warren says:

        I believe you! People actually do this. We love these people.

        1. BridgetH says:

          We were instructed to tell patrons we aren’t allowed to accept gifts, including baked goods. We are sad now.

    13. Carol Cassara says:

      Wow, Roz! That sure is a long list! Who knew? But some of it is so common sense and courtesy….it’s amazing that more don’t do them.

    14. Leslie Handler says:

      Great essay Roz. Hate to say it, but most of these apply to all humans regardless of whether or not they are speaking to a librarian. Three cheers for common courtesy- a lost American Art Form.

      1. Tom says:

        “…common courtesy–a lost American Art Form,” indeed. I’m an avid supporter of many local libraries, from the East to West Coasts (travel much). The first place I research when I get a new assignment is the public library. They are, I can honestly say, my favorite places in every community. It saddens and floors me to witness others exhibiting the behavior outlined above. I just don’t know when in our cultural evolution it became broadly acceptable to be as self absorbed and thoughtless (of others), such that so many of us don’t feel the least uncomfortable with the above. But librarians are generally my hero(ine)s. Thank you for making my life so, so much better. And thanks for the reminder to get on baking another batch of vegan carob-and-cranberries cookies for my local librarians.

    15. Dave Astor says:

      Forty GREAT pieces of advice, Roz!

    16. Nancy A. says:

      Want some cheese with that whine? This hits every librarian stereotype in the book. We are better than this, people! If you need all this to be happy, you should not be working in public service.

    17. Mister Wonderful says:


    18. Gail Lockman says:

      I agree with some of the items on your list, Roz, but I am a rule bender. Drove the staff crazy, but made users happy and grateful. Don’t hit me please. I have stories that would curl your toes after 33 years as a working librarian. Some of which involve liver sausage, well, you can imagine. Enjoy your writing, my co-workers and I often thought about collecting our stories or incident reports. We often thought our library sat at the bottom of a lunacy vortex.

      1. Roz Warren says:

        Lunacy vortex! I love it. Glad you enjoy my work.

    19. It's All good guy librarian says:

      Wow that totally reinforces the idea of librarians as passive aggressive, puritanical, female, technology hating book nazi’s. Thank you for reinforcing the stereotypes that are hamstringing our unique institution. When we are all replaced by amazon drones and call centers, you can give yourself a hearty pat on the back.

      1. Gail Lockman says:

        I think your comment is a bit over the top “It’s all good guy librarian.” Male librarians receive a certain deference, in my observations. Are you a public librarian?
        Libraries need to be turned upside down on their heads, in my opinion. STEM centers, therapy dogs, 3-D printers, programming to the hilt, music, bands, art shows, job centers with volunteers to help with job searches, cooking classes gardening classes, to name a few. I’m retired, but wish I had my own library “lab.”

      2. Jericha Benton says:


      3. libraryann says:

        I think it totally reinforces the plea for people to be courteous and kind in dealing with one another.

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