Regular Oddities

Every library has at least one or two “characters” who are regulars but behave oddly. Sometimes, these folks are a problem and require action, but generally, they are just gentle souls who are struggling with the challenges of living in this world.

One of our regulars is primarily concerned with identify theft. We have been through periods when she is certain that one of the librarians has stolen her identity but usually, it’s someone from the outside world like a stranger at the drugstore or grocery store. As a result of this fixation, she often needs information assistance to find websites and/or contact information for various legal organizations, judges, and identity theft professionals. She has written letters and made dozens of phone calls to lawyers and judges and editors of various newspapers.

We actually do our best to make her time in the library comfortable but it does seems like something always happens to turn things upside down. One day, when she was still carrying a lot of her belongings with her (again, to protect her identity), she set the bags down in our foyer. Unfortunately, that same day, another patron was collecting clothing to donate to charity and assumed those bags were donations. It was very difficult to convince our friend that this was an accident and not an intentional theft of her personal belongings. Everything was cleared up and returned the next day, but for her, the items were no longer viable as she believed they had been worn and so she discarded them and started over.

Another day, we assisted her in photocopying pictures of models from Vanity Fair. The magazine is larger than a standard piece of paper and so we had to adjust the copier settings. Once we got everything ready and she made her copies, she thanked us kindly and then showed us the pictures saying, “I forgot what I used to look like.”

Another day, she needed pictures of herself to send to someone. We apologized that we really couldn’t help her with that. In the end, we turned around to find her pressing her face up against the copier glass and was copying it… front and side.

It’s funny sometimes but it’s also sad. And what is our role as public servants to our troubled patrons? Will we know or recognize that day when this woman might need an intervention or professional assistance?



  1. Susan Said:

    I wish more people in this world shared your sense of compassion and understanding.
    What a funny and sad story.

    • irmbrown Said:

      Thanks… I appreciate you taking the time to comment. ib

  2. Karen Said:

    I especially liked the way you said, “They are just gentle souls who are struggling with the challenges of living in this world. ” Oh, how true.

    I don’t know if you would like to post this, On Thursday, I stepped in gum on the carpet in the adult fiction section. I have worked 22 years in a public library and that was a first. I don’t know if several boys blessed me with it after mentioning only one person was supposed to be on a computer.

    • irmbrown Said:

      Maybe I’ll do a “food” post in celebration of Thanksgiving. LOL

  3. Sandra Raydeen Dorsey Said:

    You are amazing–trying to keep up with all you share.

    I have no clue how you raise a family, be a Godly wife, work, travel etc., etc., etc!!!

    May God continue to bless and keep you.

    Sandy ~Smile~

    • irmbrown Said:

      Thanks for reading … never know if a non-librarian would think they are as funny as we do. 🙂

  4. PS. LOL “btw” You are more than amazing to me!!!

    You are a wonderful lady–Just like His name is wonderful!

    Sandy ~Smile~

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