Sunday, July 17, 2011

Watch Out When the Moon is Full, or Things They Don't Teach You in Library School, Pt. 3

And some of the library patrons got wild before the moon came out.

I work the last 2 reference desk shifts of the day. The shifts are usually 9 to 11 am, 11 am to 1 pm, 1 pm to 3 pm and 3 pm to 5 pm. I usually work 1 to 3 pm in the children's section.

Children come in looking for books on Spiderman or Thomas the Train, on "making coco". Is that cooking? I asked. No, the leaves you wear on the head! I finally deduced this was haku lei - leaves and flowers woven into a decorative headband. There was exactly ONE book on native Hawaiian handicrafts in our section. Note to authors: this is a topic worth considering for a children's book with simplified instructions and clear photographs!

Their parents want books for readers in grades 1 to 2 or manuals to improve math skills; their grandparents want Dr. Seuss books.

There are also 2 computers to access the library catalog and databases, and 2 Internet access computers. Around 2 pm, a young woman I'd seen before plopped herself down at one of the Internet computers. Right after that, an older man sat at the adjacent express computer. The woman turned to him and loudly said, "You KNOW that computer is only 15 minutes!?" He answered, "I KNOW, so you DON'T have to TELL me!"

There was more to this exchange. She: "I just thought you should know." He: "Well, I DON'T!" I thought fists were gonna fly, but SHE backed down first. sigh. DRAMA!

I went over to the young adult section - which has a similar computer setup - after that, without a break. Four straight hours in a row at a reference desk can be brutal. This became evident when the woman who MUST use these particular Internet computers because Fed Docs is "too noisy", and she doesn't like any of the EIGHT computers in the lobby or the basement asked me to look for a computer for her. She's already ruled out half of them!

At just that moment, a person stood up from one of the computers. The woman who asked for a computer, and a man raced over there at the same time. She yelled, "Was he waiting for it?" I said he had spoken to me. (But then he disappeared. He was probably sitting around the corner, but that is behind a WALL, which is behind my head. He should have sat at the adjacent table, where it's obvious you're waiting for a computer, and everyone can see you. Including me.) People get wild when the things they feel they're entitled to are threatened. But why can't they use common sense and act in a civilized manner?

I blame their lack of judgment, but I have a feeling the full moon intensified things!

But that's only half the problem. These adults were 45 to 60 years old, and they are using Internet computers in the section for YOUNG ADULTS. If I were a teenager, I'd be put off by the self-centered behavior of these adults, who have the entire rest of the library at their disposal. Instead, they are exposed to the homeless with their smells and antisocial behavior, not to mention tweaking from drugs. And the seniors who inevitably need help printing their documents or formatting them. The guy who's channeling Elvis with the shades, too-tight shirts and tattooed-on sideburns (really!) I think his eyebrows are inked, too! He often prints out photos downloaded from "Cherry Blossoms"-type websites, where Asian women are looking for "friends". Some of the young women look modest, but they are not the ones he's printing! Some of the young adults are weird, too.

I'm trying not to stereotype, but above are the behaviors I encounter EVERY DAY. I was telling Rey, the security guard, about the person with the rough voice and weathered skin who "camps out" all day in the middle reader room. I feel this keeps CHILDREN from sitting there - and it is THEIR room, as is the area around the children's reference desk. Which means it and the young adult room should both be havens for them, instead of being exposed to weirdos and girlie pictures.

Rey told me he found a man sleeping on one of the children's benches with a teddy bear as a pillow. This person was caught shoplifting in Longs drugstore soon after that. He was a wanted felon. I won't even discuss the man who's been seen following little girls around the library. I don't have the stomach right now to tell you about him.

How soon is the next full moon? Not for a long, long, time, I hope!

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