If you didn’t know, September is Library Card Sign-up Month.
This is the instructional/refresher I wish I could do for patrons because I feel like some people weren’t paying attention at all when using a library was discussed back in school and with some of the younger kids coming in, I’m wondering if that’s not one of the curriculum bits dropped due to lack of funding.
Yes. It is a bit snarky. I will not apologize for that.
Here we go. The absolute basics of How To Library:
- Have your library card with you if you want to check items out. You would think I wouldn’t have to say that, but it turns out the number of people who come into the library without their cards is staggering. If you lose it, let us know and we’ll replace it. If you left it at home accidentally because you switched out your purse or grabbed the wrong wallet, okay, I get that. That happens. Ways to combat forgetfulness? If your library has an app, use that. It should have your card on it. Or take a picture of your card’s barcode. We can scan that most of the time. Or we can use your ID. Don’t have your ID? What in the absolute fuck are you doing driving around then? How the hell will anyone ID your corpse when it’s found in a ditch somewhere? I do not understand you people at all.
- Return your items on time and undamaged. You are borrowing an item. BORROWING IT. Would you borrow something from your friend, keep it months after you agreed to give it back, and trash it in the process? If you would, I don’t want your ass in my library or as my friend. Some libraries still have fines. Mine doesn’t. That means you’re not penalized for not bringing your item back on time, but you should still endeavor to do so. If your item is going to be late, you can renew it. You might even be able to do that over the phone (we do that at our library) or online. And if something does happen to the item you’ve checked out, bring it to the circ desk and own up to it. Because we’re more likely to charge you if you ditch it in the dropbox and run away rather than showing it to us and explaining what happened to it. Think I’m lying? We’ve got a book in our collection with tired tread from a whole ass car on the title page (that person was having one hell of an interesting day). Some damage we can live with and we’ll be more likely to let you live with it too if you take responsibility.
- Learn your library’s shelving system. I can’t speak for every library, but when it comes to fiction, 9 times out of 10, the books are going to be shelved by author’s last name in alphabetical order. I don’t understand why this is a mystery to so many people. Non-fiction can be trickier. Some libraries still use Dewey Decimal, some don’t. Mine uses a subject based system, but guess what? The subjects are still in alphabetical order. Movies, TV shows, and music can be the same way. We organize ours by genre, but within the genres…alphabetical order. We use the alphabet a lot. It helps with finding things. Speaking of which…
- Learn how to use your library’s search. Some libraries may still have card catalogs. Mine doesn’t. Ours is now computer based. Either/or, spend some time learning how to use whatever your library uses. This includes any searching online in the comfort of your own home via whatever apps/sites your library might have. Our computer search can be done by title, author, keyword, etc. and then with a click you can find out the call number. We are happy to help you find whatever item your are looking for, but we are just as happy if you find that item yourself. Believe me. Our feelings will not be hurt if you find that book on your own.
The basic tips make my life as a library worker easier. These basic tips also make your life as a patron easier. Knowing where stuff is and how to find it makes the library more user-friendly and less intimidating. And that’s what we want! Of course, if you have any questions about anything in the library, ask a library worker. We will be happy to answer your questions because we want you to have a good library experience and that’s what the basics do -build a foundation for a good library experience.
I realize this is a bit of a snarky list (particularly the first two), but it’s these four things that haunt me the most. Honestly, the number of people who are indignant about the idea of having to have their library card with them to check items out is mind-boggling (the number of people rolling without their IDs more so). But I feel like a serious disservice is being done here by not properly educating people on the basics of librarying. I want to fix that.
So bring your damn library card and return your shit on time.