ASSOCIATES (2004, November, v. 11, no. 2) -

*My View from the Back Room*


Carol Borzyskowski
Library Associate II
Winona, MN 55987

*My Words Get in the Way*

I have been on auto-pilot for the past few months, just circling around the library in a holding pattern. No new and exciting prospects on the horizon (a pun), just going about the daily grind. So this column is a collection of random thoughts inspired by my library surroundings, an annotated list if you please, for those of you who love lists.

Libraries, yes, we are still here and people still use us daily. In fact, even though we had to cut our hours to help compensate for less staff, the same amounts of people continue to come in and circulation remains steady. The staff is humming, there is no fat to cut anywhere (although I would be glad to offer up some of mine to the liposuction gods) and we are working together pretty darn good I am most pleased to say.

Thoughts about library users and buildings, or, Carol’s top reasons many users come to the library.

  1. It is usually a climate controlled, well lit and safe place to check your email.
  2. You can meet your friends way back in the stacks in private.
  3. You can ditch your little brother or sister in the children’s department
  4. You can tell your parents you are at the library studying
  5. You can leave your bag at the desk and go hang out at Hardee’s
  6. You can read the want ads from all the papers
  7. You can nap in peace
  8. You can scan the city directory for siding contacts
  9. You can use the phone to make appointments, apply for a job, or check out a rental
  10. You can get all the videos you want

Random thoughts based on 17 years of public service

  1. People will contest a 30 cent fine quicker and more adamantly than a $7.00 one.
  2. The customer is not always right, but they are never wrong, while you are always at fault.
  3. If a patron finds the item they swear they already returned, then it will usually be returned through the evening book return, not brought to the desk.
  4. There are some really sweet people who ALWAYS have a problem, every time they come into the library. This is known as bad book karma. You will just have to deal with it. Perhaps in another lifetime your roles were reversed.
  5. If your library was open 24/7, the same twelve people would be at the computer terminals and sitting in the reference area.
  6. At least once a day someone will ask if you have any GOOD books.
  7. People still think working in a library means you get to read all day.
  8. “What are your hours” will always be the number one question when the phone rings.
  9. Kids are still excited to get their own library card, and want to use that one, not mom or dad’s even though all the books are going to the same house.
    1. When the line at the Circ desk is the longest, then a parent will come in and want a card for themselves and all five children.
  10. The kids who attend story hour regularly tend to be life-long library users and supporters. (yeah!)

Thoughts on books and genre’s

  1. Science fiction and fantasy books get beat up the fastest. What is it with that? Are those books just loved to death or do the borrowers just totally space them out?
  2. HOW TO GET ORGANIZED books, are always overdue.
  3. Books on puppy and dog training get chewed up the most—usually the upper right corner.
  4. Chilton Car Repair books—ought to come already grease stained or with plastic wipe off pages.
  5. Christmas books by best selling authors are just bad.
  6. No matter how large your collection of romance paperbacks is, it is not large enough.
  7. You will never have on hand the right country or state video for the patron who needs it NOW!
  8. Young girls still love books about horses. Now if you could combine horses, babysitting, evil, and witches, then you would have the ultimate series. To make the series popular for boys, add a super hero in dirty underwear that blows things up.
  9. Because audio books continue to increase in popularity we need to think about some new terms. Or not. I still say I just read, but should I say, listened to instead? How about, “What have you HEARD lately?”
  10. I have been noticing more and more books of poetry being published and bought, and checked out. YES! Keep it up!

Favorite materials used as bookmarks.

  1. Bills/receipts/notices
  2. Money
  3. Cards/letters
  4. Paper towels/Kleenex/toilet paper (!)
  5. Gum/candy wrappers
  6. String/yarn/thread
  8. Foodstuffs
  9. Folded corners (!)
  10. Unidentifiable squished objects

Can books really change your life? How about….

  1. High Tide in Tucson, by Barbara Kingsolver, really made me re-think my views on education and the local school system. What are your favorites?
  2. The South Beach Diet, or any diet book of the week.
  3. Books on meditation, centering, EST, etc.
  4. Anything “New Age” or on how to be a witch. Which are all surprisingly popular, but, do they really change your world?
  5. The latest conspiracy theory.
  6. Books on how to get organized, ha ha. Or how to keep your house clean.
  7. Books on how to contact the dead.
  8. Books on self-hypnosis.
  9. Anything promoted by Oprah.
  10. Books on how to communicate with your cat or dog.

Okay, I realize there are lots of great books that really do help people learn new things, experience new ideas, answer questions or help them through a difficult period in their lives and I am grateful for all of them and hope they print more, and more people come in and check them out. Which brings me back to why I am still glad I work in a library: I LOVE ALL THE STUFF WE HAVE! I love knowing we probably have the answer to their question and with a bit of searching we will find it and put it in their hand or order it for them.

Now what the patron does with the information is up to them--we have done out part. All I ask is that just because they found twenty-seven different books on how to train their puppy, they don’t request all of them. Just think of the conflicting theories!

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