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

*Library Life:
A Column Of Eclectic Rantings*


Katie Buller Kintner
Unemployed library paraprofessional

This column is going to be short, I’m afraid. The holidays are looming, I’m still looking for a library job, my back and feet are killing me, and the house needs a good cleaning.

However, despite my obviously hectic and stimulating life, I have found time to ponder the meaning of the upcoming holidays and remember just how much fun it was to decorate the library in preparation for the numberless few that cared one way or another.

Since most libraries receive some sort of public funding, I can appreciate the challenge of trying to be “inclusive” with seasonal decorating, making sure not to offend anyone by showing a preference for any one celebration over another. Therefore, in the good old pioneer spirit, I’m going to share with you some of the more creative ways to prepare your library for the festivities without offending anyone.

Garland too exclusive? Old unlabelled CDROMS make useful and festive decorations. You know what I’m talking about--the ones containing outdated databases going back to the 1980s that you have stashed away in the technical services room? Tie them up with red book string for an extra festive atmosphere. The more the merrier, until the whole library is positively glittering with useless information.

Christmas trees too pagan in origin? Not a problem! Take an old dead stick from the curb somewhere, stick it in a pot and leave it by the front door with small bits of paper and instructions for making paper cranes. Not only does it remove any kind of responsibility for the tree from the library, but gives your more ... um … interesting patrons something constructive to do, like strew the unfolded paper all over the library.

Santa Claus not a welcome sight? You can create your own holiday character with just a few items from the lost and found and the library’s resident homeless person. If that person has a very bad wig, so much the better. For extra cheer, invite a few more of your favorite street people into the library to create the cheerful ambiance of the season.

Carolers locked out of the library on purpose? A few tipsy technical services support staffers will do the job just fine. Just insist that they return to work after their two hour library-sponsored holiday party featuring mulled wine and pungent punch. You’ll hear lots of singing!

Having a staff gift exchange? We all know the answer to THIS one. Grab those ugly dustcatchers you got for your wedding/birthday/anniversary and recycle them by foisting them on other staff. Everyone will love you for it. For additional fun, play the game where if you don’t like a gift, you can take someone else’s. That always gets everyone in a holiday mood.

Last but not least, how should library staff respond to a patron’s cheery “Merry Christmas”? Just have your staff member point to a small sign and say:

“Library policy forbids any staff recognition of any particular holiday in favor of any other holiday, so in response to your greeting, I may only point to this sign. Thank you and drive safely.”

The sign should say: “ibrary”

I hope these suggestions have been helpful to you. In closing, I would like to wish everyone a safe, happy and festive holiday season … unless of course, that offends you.

In that case, thank you and drive safely.

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