Sunday, April 4, 2010

Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel

I have noticed an interesting phenomenon working at the library. Most people come to the library at roughly the same time of day, on the same day(s) of each week. Not exactly an earth-shaking bit of insight; more of a funny quirk.

We all have schedules. I’m guessing that I could find many a peer-reviewed article on this subject documenting that we are driven my internal regimens and various psychological / biological frameworks beyond our control. Of course there may be a much simpler reason: people come to the library when they are free to do so; when the hours of operation coincide with their work / family schedules and that just happens to be at about the same time each week. Anyway, if you are on my side of the circ desk you happen to get to see the same folks at about the same time on about the same given day of each week.

So I get to catch up with lots of people about once a week as they are dropping items off or checking items out. You find out about the weather, their cars, their kids, parents, reading habits, which authors they like, travel plans etc. It’s just a few moments over the desk but it seems to brighten everyone’s day. There is, of course, a dark side to this: when someone doesn’t show up during the time that you expect them to, you begin to wonder. Are they on vacation? Is the car in the shop? Are they sick? Did something happen to them? Have they changed their work schedule or library habits? Or have you been “Dear Johned” with the patron havening decided that your library and / or you as a librarian are “no longer providing what they need to grown in their reading and literary relationship”? Yikes! Usually, it’s none of these things. Usually, you just weren’t paying attention or for some reason the patron needed to change their routine for that week. But I have noticed that when someone I’m expecting doesn’t come in at the usual time that I miss that little personal interaction and wonder about them.

When chatting with patrons I often like to use humor. And when given the chance will use it at any time. Most often my humor is directed at myself. And as everyone learns who uses humor there are two intertwined rules: not every joke you use will be seen as funny and you need different jokes for different folks. I have now been at the library long enough to have delivered some duds. And having done so I have this to say: most library patrons are exceptionally polite individuals and they have continued talking to me. Of course, in this case, I’m still the one working the circ desk so maybe the patrons don’t have a choice. But pretty much everyone seeing me at he desk still smiles when they come in the door. Which makes me wonder about those patrons who stop at the front door, look through the glass, deposit their books in the book box and just walk away. If I was a paranoid individual I might think it was me. But I’m not. I think the deposited books are probably overdue and they’re just putting off having to pay the fine.

See you at the library,

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