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There’s Nothing Faster Than A Librarian At Quitting Time

March 24, 2014 by Diane

Funny Librarian

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.





  1. Great post! Our little library closes earlier than yours, but the librarians still zip out the door just as fast. It’s not quite as small as the library near where your father lives, but the librarians still know everybody and everything…

  2. Jill S. says:

    This totally made me smile. 😀

  3. BDF says:

    Libraries are great but jobs aren’t. That’s why they call it work. I’d book out of an ice-cream tasting if it was my job to be there. I ain’t mad at ’em for that.

  4. Joan merdinger says:

    As always I thoroughly enjoyed your story!!!

  5. So funny!

    I miss going to the drawers of index cards to look up where the book you want is located in the library. I miss the days that librarians didn’t scream at the top of their lungs while talking (the reason I can’t write at libraries. Believe me, I tested out a dozen and all librarians no longer say “shush” because now I say it to them!)

    I loved this post, and discovering your blog!=

    • Diane says:

      Yes, the card files! Those long narrow wooden drawers filled with index cards. I miss them too! And you’re right…there was a shush to the library that seems to be missing now.

      Glad you visited! Hope to see you again.

  6. TexasLibrarian says:

    Hi there. Librarian here. Our library is busy all day. As a librarian, after a day of helping people write resumes, start up their own YouTube channels, fiilout job applications, or finding assistance for the homeless teen, then, teaching a yoga class, going out on the bookmobile to a nursing home etc., Im not bored, I’m tired. Those are things we do on good days. On bad days, I’m tired of getting yelled at because the IRS doesn’t provide free tax forms anymore, cleaning up kids’ vomit and dealing with poop in the urinal. We love serving the public, but it’s exhausting. We actually do enjoy the challenge of a good hunt and helping people.

    • Diane says:

      No wonder you flee! I would too. Seriously, I LOVE librarians. And the library. If I’m ever in Texas, I’ll try to think of a really good challenge to stump you. I doubt it can be done, though.

      • TexasLibrarian says:

        Please do! Thank you for using the library and loving it. It’s so nice to hear patrons who genuinely love their libraries. We have a lot of those patrons too and they make library work so rewarding. Really, I do love helping people, which is why most of us do what we do. Also, I apologize for spelling/grammar errors. I was on my phone typing my comment and forgot to double check things! 🙂

        • Diane says:

          As a perfectionist, it does me a world of good to know that even librarians make spelling and grammar errors. To digress, and since you broached the subject in your previous comment, I saw in the restroom of the library a specimen in the toilet that was so impressive, I stood there slack-jawed. I mean, this thing couldn’t even be flushed! So I feel for you.

          • TexasLibrarian says:

            Oh yes, even us librarians make mistakes. Also, your description made me laugh. I’ve seen a lot at the library. My mother tells me I need to start writing a book. I was impressed (and shocked) that someone pooped in the urinal. That just seems like a very awkward thing to physically do.

          • Diane says:

            Write the book. You’re mother’s onto something.

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