A friend pointed out the phenomenon, and she’s right: At quitting time, the librarians are peeling out of the parking lot before I’ve barely stepped outside.
Why are they fleeing?
I would live in the library if they’d let me. It’s a great place to write, or people watch, or meditate, or nap (an activity I no longer engage in), or read. Shelves and shelves of books are just yearning to be read. There’s a café in the lobby where I can stock up on miniature candy bars. And there’s the all-important restroom–thankfully–because as a kid who read in the bathroom (another activity I no longer engage in), I associate books with bathrooms. The side effect? If I’m ever “stopped up,” I head to the library.
But at nine o’clock on the dot–quitting time–the librarians boot me out. In all fairness, they do give me plenty of warning.
At 8:30, a man’s pre-recorded voice booms over the speakers: The Library will be closing in thirty minutes. And in case nobody heard the booming voice, the lights flicker off and on.
Fifteen minutes later the voice booms again. The Library will be closing in fifteen minutes. The lights go off—no flickering this time–and after sufficient darkness they come back on.
Ten minutes later, the voice returns. The Library will be closing in five minutes. Please check out your materials NOW. The computers go black. The lights go off. Reluctantly, the lights come back on, and one of the librarians makes the rounds asking patrons if they need help–a polite way of saying PLEASE LEAVE. Before I’ve had time to power down my laptop and gather up my notebook and haul my stack of books to the checkout station, the voice is announcing: The Library is now closed. Thank you for visiting.
As in…you don’t live here, now go home.
And it’s just me and the shelver in her vinyl gloves, glaring.
I think the librarians are bored. That’s why they race off to something more exciting…like sleep. With the checkout process completely computerized, librarians have nothing to do but prop their elbows on the counter, chin in hand, and daydream about quitting time. They no longer need to deal with all those sneezing, coughing, whining patrons. That job is reserved for the reference librarians.
I try to keep the reference librarians engaged. I’ll ask for…oh, a book on the daily life of the Aztecs, and they’ll peck around on the computer, scroll through options, jot down a list of numbers, and point me in a direction. That’s it. Job done. But at least it was something to do.
Have you ever tried to stump a librarian? It can’t be done. I’ll bet if you asked a librarian to explain the difference between a physiatrist and a physiologist, you’d get an answer. I’ll save you the trouble. Read my previous post.
I’m impressed by the amount of information that’s implanted in a librarian’s brain. Case in point: There’s a tiny library in the Sierra town where my father lives…how tiny, you ask. It’s so minuscule that you have to step outside to pull your library card from your back pocket. When I visited this over-sized bookshelf, I was greeted by the librarian who knew the names of all the members of my family and whether or not they had voted in the last election. How did she know this information?
Librarians know everything.
If they didn’t, we wouldn’t need them. We’d have librarian-less libraries. Come to think of it, we do. Take a look at this bus stop library.
Let that be a warning, ye who flee at quitting time.