Posts Tagged ‘regulars’

Bandwidth vs. Regulars

Well, some of our regulars have learned the magic word that really runs the show: bandwidth!

When our bandwidth is maxed out, everyone can tell. Games, tunes, MySpace, Facebook, you name it, they all come to a virtual standstill. Our reference desk has “traffic grapher” so we can tell if it’s incoming or outgoing traffic that is maxing us out. But since our branch is small, we usually walk around to let people know the slow down is due to a bandwidth issue. While we’re strolling through the public PC’s, we also scan for possible culprits. Generally, it’s hard to tell, so we gently mention that “someone” is uploading (or downloading) a large file and it’s affecting everyone’s performance. We hope for a little peer pressure–sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

The regular “boys” are the ones who get the most frustrated since their gaming is affected immediately: nothing worse than a medieval army getting caught up in a bandwidth vacuum. One day, our “Larry” (see previous post), decided to take matters into his own hands and came up to the desk and asked that we check the bandwidth. He said the librarians needed to walk the floor and get the other gamers off the pipe. When the librarian asked him why?, he informed her that he was at a critical point in his game and that took priority over the other games.

Interesting point of view.

It’s amazing how the expectations for service expand with the capability. It’s never enough. Certainly, we’ll never have enough bandwidth to satisfy the needs of all of our clients. As more and more apps move to the web, the demands will become greater, and not just for gamers. It’s a web world.

Amazingly enough, three of the seven guys who come in every day are now on laptops. I have no idea how they got them and I don’t ask. For them, it’s a huge win. They see it as a way to the web with less restraints and librarian monitoring. The only boondoggle? Bandwidth. I wonder if they’ll figure out that the laptops get dropped from the pipe first when traffic maxes? I think I’ll keep that piece of info to myself.

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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?

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.