ASSOCIATES (vol. 8 no. 2, November 2001) -

My View From The Backroom


Carol Borzyskowski
Library Associate II
Winona Public Library

'Tis the season..for lists?

Time to face it everyone. The holiday season in America begins on Halloween and ends with the Super Bowl. This has nothing to do with my article, I am just grousing about all the calories I will have to try and avoid. No, I really want to talk about lists. That and the fact that I am the "official" library curmudgeon so please if you continue reading this article…you have been warned!!!!

Everyone has them. Lists, not curmudgeons.

Library Spot (my favorite reference site) has a list of the best lists, from 100 great books, to the top 10 jingles. If you go to and order a book, they also give you lists. Lists people have made that sort of relate to what you are buying or looking up. David Letterman has his lists, we love lists: funny lists, to-do lists, check lists, grocery lists, list of sins, grievances and slights, boys you have kissed, somewhere there is a list about every topic you can imagine. The library world has tons of lists. Books you should have for core reference, magazines that are indexed, politicians to write to, conventions and conferences to attend, a huge list of what those initials mean, who is who everywhere, and the art of librarianship.

There are even lists of sites dealing with LIBRARY HUMOR, and one of my favorites is the WARRIOR LIBRARIAN WEEKLY. I have decided to see if I can update my curmudgeon image by using humor. However, that is what probably got me in this position in the first place. The Warrior Librarian "lists" things you can learn from kids. I particularly like" "Regardless of the original color, flavor or brand, used chewing gum has no aesthetic appeal." Or, dipping into their list "Thin books for busy librarians", I want to check out the following slim volumes: "Feng Shiu for library workrooms" (my windowless office comes to mind) and "Acceptable expletives to use at the circulation desk." Tee hee. See, I am laughing.

Here is my own list. It is a list of library resolutions. By this I mean things I will attempt to avoid saying to patron and staff, especially over the long holiday season. To help update my grumpy image. Well, to attempt to help.

While working on desk and dealing with patrons.

1. I will not bring out my lovely new red corked jar that is engraved "ASHES OF PROBLEM PATRONS"

2. On Halloween, I will wear a costume for fun, but I will not have a rubber mask made of the person I really want to come to work as. It just wouldn't be polite. And besides, it would only be funny to a few staff members.

3. I will quit imagining certain people as farm animals and stop singing quack quack waddle waddle as a mantra.

4. When I have heard for the 30th time…"Oh, so you are going to be closed for 2 days for Thanksgiving-- that must be nice." I will just say, "Yes, I am looking forward to it, thanks."

5. When I am asked (again) "Can I get a library card?" I will not say, "I don't know, can you?

6. When the next person says, "I would just love to work here. I think it would be great to read all day." I WILL NOT say, "Do you get to read all day at your job?"

7. When asked if we have any good books. I will not say, "No, that lady going out the door right now checked out the last good one we had."

8. I will look into each person's eyes and smile. I will not stare at green hair and multiple piercing and make amusing mental connections between the patron and the book in their hand

9. When asked if we have tax forms, I will not jump up and down with joy, giggle madly and say "NO!" I will explain that due to safety and space issues we no longer have an area to store and distribute them AND, tell them, nicely, how they can obtain forms.

10. I will continue to remind myself those patron questions, demands, and suggestions are not interruptions, but the object of my job, the life of this building, and the welfare of libraries in general.

My staff list of improvements:

Oh dear, I am already going to break my "be nicer" rule. Staff improvements…snort no Carol Don't Go There. I mean ways I can improve my relationships with staff, especially during the holiday season. Frankly, I am getting exhausted just contemplating that list. The holidays may have to go on without me.

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