Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pen policy

 From the supply department:


                                            Our front desk pen policy

1. We use a standardized array of pens at this library. If a foreign pen of some kind enters into our collection please expunge it immediately. Do not let it pollute the purity of our pens. Stray pens breed!

2. We have some very authentic looking fake calla lilies that are attached to some of our pens to dissuade people from walking off with them. These are attached only to our fancy, expensive pens. Do not attach them to the cheap pens! We just do not care if someone walks off with a three cent pen!

3. If a patron starts to wander away with a valuable calla lily pen stop them and consider banning that patron from the library. Between the cost of the fancy pen and the cost of the imitation lily the value of that pen can run as high as two dollars! This exceeds the actual value of any single item in our entire library collection!

4. I have noted that some of you are still resisting my fervent obsession with the sharpie clickable pen. I continually starve the front desk of sharpie alternatives in the hope that you will all succumb. But let me take this opportunity to list the virtues of the sharpie clickable in hopes that reason will sway you where force has failed.

     a. These pens always work on our cards and do not need to be "warmed up" by scribbling with them on post it notes.

     b. These pens are fun to play with. If necessary I can teach you the bouncy game in which you can delightfully make a pen spring into the air.

     c. Sharpie clickables act like an intelligence puzzle for patrons who have never encountered a sharpie clickable before, which adds entertainment value to our front desk interactions and allows us to size up new library members.

     d. They leave a rich, permanent signature on library cards, making them seem boldly official, and yet also personal.

     e. Sharpie clickables are easy to tape fake lilies to.

The supply department thanks you for your attention to these directives, which, while unofficial and entirely unsupported by the library administration, will still be enforced in any way I can.


  1. Thank you for this blog post. I find the subject very interesting. Some reasons, in the form of a list:

    1. We too have clickable pens for our whiteboards. I like them because there's no need to remove the cap and put it back on. However, it's very easy to forget to un-click the pen, which means in a short time the pen runs dry.

    2. I am grateful for Sharpie's as well, either clicked or un-click. I like how they write on CDs. However, once I was teaching a class and I had a Sharpie in my bag. It was a very large version. It wasn't until the end of class that I realized that my incredible lecture on semicolons was not in dry erase, but in Sharpie un-erase. I discovered it takes about .5 hour to scrub violently on a whiteboard with that super dooper spray to remove Sharpie from it.

    3. We are not longer given a set amount of pens, which is nice. Used to be we were given four or so (plus a new eraser!) before the semester; if they ran out we had to ask the office worker to open a locked closet. There was always a sense that I should have made these last. But that's like building a sandcastle and asking the tide not to erase it. Now there's a cool see-through drawer thingy where we can take as many as we like, trusting that we're not simply collecting them to sell on Ebay.

    1. Thank you for your detailed comments. I'm afraid I could discuss this, perhaps boringly, for hours! I will try to keep it to a minimum here.

      OH the sharpie. They should sponsor this blog post. We used to use the ultra fine point, or was it the extra fine point, for signing cards. Some of my co-workers still like them. Feh! You always had to prime them to get them to work on library cards.

      Should you mark something up with a sharpie I suggest also trying a conventional eraser, which, surprisingly sometimes works pretty well at removing their markings, though I don't know if it would have been better than your super dooper spray.

      I'm glad your pen allowance has freed up. As the supply person I have now experienced a two decade curve of supply liberalization. Many years ago we used to just run out of supply money in, like, September, and then somehow have to make do. Now sometimes I feel like we can get whatever supply we need or idly fancy, which is fun, but I worry about our collections budget.

      Well, I am not privy to those budgetary considerations.

      That would be funny (albeit evil if you work at a library or College) to have a little ebay store: "Supplies I stole from my job".


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