Posts Tagged ‘patrons’

Email 101

I’m not talking about learning how to do email… I’m talking about our patrons who can’t seem to remember their email account logins from one visit to the next! I swear, we have at least a dozen customers who have asked us to set up yet another email account once a week. That would probably come to about 101 by now. Don’t you think?

One gal swears she needs a new one every visit. We started keeping a copy of the latest email login and password, but when we bring it to her attention, she said it isn’t hers. Last week, she was looking for a job: one of those sites where you have to create an account, and yes, she needed an email to do it. So, miracle of miracles, she remembered her most recent email account but when she tried to set up the job account, she got a pop up message that an account existed already for that email address. Of course, she complained to us and said she’d never been on this site before. Clearly, her email account had been hacked! And would we please help her set up another one? Sigh.

Then, we have another gentleman who gets our attention by holding up his hand like he’s in school. We walk over and apparently, although he is savvy enough to create a number of email accounts, he still needs help switching from one to another. And why? He keeps trying borrowing thousands and thousands of dollars on these quickie one-week loan sites. He gets so angry when we say we can’t help him with something this private. That’s a tough one. We keep wondering if guys in dark clothes and glasses will be dropping by the library looking for him.

Another sweet fella adds a new email account to his list every time the current account won’t open up because he has so many emails the page gets hung up. We keep telling him he could probably delete those three year old messages – mostly spam, but he won’t do it. So, we help him create another one.

And how many times has someone come in with a stack of little papers (mostly receipts) with an email account written down that someone else helped them set up? The password is written in cramped writing or scratched out and then re-written and we wonder, is it really uppercase or lowercase? So many people use both cases when writing, they are not aware of the importance of case in passwords.

So, in the end, we have to create a new email. And it’s all so frustrating, particularly when we get to those “security” questions! What kind of people use such answers: their first grade teacher, the street they grew up on, the name of their favorite uncle, their oldest cousin’s name, or where they spent theirr childhood summers? These questions are created for a decidedly white middle class clientele. I mean, most of my customers look at me blankly as I read off their choices. It’s embarrassing.

What does Yahoo do with all these rogue accounts? They probably have one entire server just for the emails at our branch!

Thank You Man

This story comes from librarian colleague, Karen, who shared the particulars with me the other day.

If there was an award for the kindest man alive, this guy would win it. Nor is this an isolated incident, but a regular expression of his appreciation. We call him the “thank you man.”

Example:
He called and asked for the information desk, then thanked circulation for transferring his call.

When the information librarian answered, he thanked her taking his call.

After he asked about the book he was trying to find, he thanked the librarian for taking his inquiry.

Once she discovered we had the book in another branch and informed her that she could place a request for him. He thanked her.

Before hanging up, he thanked her for her time.

When the book arrived and he received the “electronic voice” notification by phone. He called the desk and thanked them for the notification.

When he came to pick up the book, he thanked the circulation desk for holding the book for him and then he walked over to the Reference desk and once again thanked the librarians for their service.

About two weeks later, the book was returned and inside the book was a note for Karen, which said (of course), “Thanks!”

Finding Closure

We just finished our annual Winter Reading Program geared for adults and teens. Adults must read five books from January to the first week in March and teens must read three. The program has gotten more popular with each year and for some reason, a good number of our patrons look forward to the annual incentive: a branded Winter Reading Program coffee mug.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve got two shelves in my kitchen cabinets full of mugs, a drawer in my office with mugs, and a shelf above my credenza loaded with library mugs and Folkmanis puppets. And yet, of course, as a librarian, I continue to read my five books each year and add to my collection anyway. (One year, we switched incentives to a branded post-it note cube but the “haters” came out of the woodwork. We went back to mugs the following year, to say the least.)

Anyway, here’s the problem. We always run out of mugs. Most people who have been participating in the program know this happens and if they are hot for the mugs, they read early and pick up the mug in February.

Last week, on the next to last day of the program, we had a patron come in who was so excited because she had completed her reading.

She confessed, “it was a major effort to read all those books. I can’t wait to get my mug.”

Unfortunately, we were out. Everyone was out. There wasn’t a single mug to be had anywhere in our system.

(I suppose I could have given her my mug. . . did I say I was a librarian? You know, the kind that goes to Library conferences and picks up pens, tote bags, posters, and twinkly things?)

Well, our patron was dismayed. She asked, “Since, there aren’t any mugs, how about a pen?”

We give out branded pens in January to the folks who sign up. No pens. Then she asked if we had ANYTHING to give her for completing the program and truthfully, we didn’t.

She was silent for some moments. “But, I need closure.”

Naturally, we apologized, but what else was there to say?

Later that day, I bought a bag of chocolate bars just in case we had anyone else who really needed closure.

P.S. We collect the book lists our WRP completers create and provide the list as a Reader’s Advisory tool. Here’s a sampling from our “closure” patron:

  • The Monster in the cave : How to face your fear and anxiety and live your life;
  • Be happy without being perfect; and
  • The confident woman.

Go figure.

Book Mites

It’s 4:30 in the afternoon on a Friday and I’m the one who who gets the goofy phone call.

The woman was quite pleasant and said several times that she was not complaining at all, but she thought we should know that our books had book mites. She said she was quite the bookworm and she knew for a fact that most books (particularly old ones) have mites and usually, she simply microwaves all of her books before she reads them.

Unfortunately, she hadn’t considered that our library books have RFID tags (aka, metal) in the back of the book and so, she managed to burn a hole through the back of the book. No problem, she said, she would pay for the book, but… what should she do with the next library book?

I asked her if she was sure it was our books that had mites? “Well, she said, “the mites are crawling up my arms.”

So back to the real reason for her call: how should she get rid of the mites in our library books since she couldn’t microwave them but she really wanted to read them. Uh… my brave answer: I have no idea!

Like any good librarian, I took her name and phone number and said I’d get back to her. After telling my nearest colleague about this conversation and chortling for several minutes, we began discussing some of possibilities and searching the web … but what if they’re not book mites at all? What if the lady has bedbugs? (They are coming back, you know.) What if it’s some other kind of bug? What if she has just regular lice and doesn’t realize it? Sigh.

After a careful search (well, the 4:45 in the afternoon kind of search)… it appears that book mites do exist. They do not, however, eat books. They eat glue and they love dark places. Were they crawling up our patron’s arm? I doubt it. Book mites (also known as book lice) love dark, moist places. They are not fond of human skin, hair, or anything else. The only way to really get rid of book mites is to remove any and all humidity. Good luck with that. One article did mention that one could put the books in a freezer (at 0 degrees) for four hours.

So, I dutifully called our patron back and gave her the bad news: low humidity, light, and maybe a freezer. “Well, she said, I think I’ll put them in a plastic bag and try the freezer method. Thanks so much.”

I guess I’ll have to warn the Circulation Department … if we get any frozen books in the book drop, we’ll know the culprit. In the meantime, I can’t wait to see the microwaved book and its RFID tag burned through the back cover!

Warts and All

Well, we heard last Wednesday that one of our regulars, let’s call him Larry, is “boycotting” the branch because he was asked to bring down his voice… again.

We are all trying to be sad about this boycott, but honestly, Larry brings a tumble of problems with him each day.

On some days, three or four fellas come with Larry and and sit with him to play video games on the computers all day. They call out and guffaw and move from screen to screen. If they were only in 5th grade, it would be more understandable (but they are all between eighteen and twenty). When they get bumped off the computers (as students start arriving in the afternoon), they play role playing card games. They are all personal hygiene challenged.

One day, Larry’s girlfriend passed out in front of the building and we called an ambulance. He continued playing video games.

Another day, Larry arrived at the branch four hours before opening and slept by the front door until we asked him to move.

Once, Larry was caught burning CD’s with pirated music and selling them outside the branch to school kids.

These are the kinds of things that larger city libraries encounter every day. But somehow, it feels more personal in a small branch. In the years that Larry has been coming here, people have reached out to him. He was given jobs, food, clothing, and even money. But he continues to make other choices. He’s our little lost sheep, I guess.

Oh, look, he’s back today. He just couldn’t stay away. Like I said… we’re family, warts and all.