Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A library interaction for study purposes

For training purposes only:

Transcript of a standard phone call for renewing books, received at the library, 1:14 p.m., June 28, 2017.

Edited for brevity.

Staff: (Brief greeting).

Patron: (Long string of irrelevant and useless information).

Staff: If you will read me the barcode number off of your library card I will do what I can to help you.

Patron: (Two requests for clarification of above, followed by) So you need my library card?

Staff: Yes.

(800 words narrating the search for the library card). Here it is! What do you need?

Staff: The long number on the back of the card.

Patron: (Repeats above phrase in questioning manner).

Staff: Under the barcode.

Patron: (Reads number incorrectly)

That is not a possible number in our system. Can you read it to me again?

Patron: (Reads number incorrectly)

Staff: (Carefully explains how the number can't possibly be correct).

Patron: (Reads number correctly).

Staff: What can I help you with?

Patron: (Relates exhaustive story with many trials and tribulations but no particular point).

Staff: So, would it help if we renewed your books?

Patron: (Long digressive story suggesting that they would love it if Staff renewed all their books but never saying so).

Staff: I'm going to renew your books.

Patron: Well, will you just renew (names book)?

Staff: Okay, that's renewed to (date three weeks hence). Anything else?

Patron: Yes, could you renew (names book)?

Staff: I could just renew all of them if you like.

Patron: That won't be necessary. I just want to renew (renames the two books above and a third book).

Staff: They'll be due on (Names date). I...

Patron: And (Names a fourth book). Oh, and I guess I better renew these: (Names all the rest of the books checked out on the card).

Staff: Everything is renewed to (Date).

Patron: Is (names book mentioned earlier) renewed?

Staff: Yes it is.

Patron: When is it due?

Staff: (Names same date that has now been mentioned three times). All of the items are due on (Names date that has now been mentioned four times).

Patron: (Names date that has been mentioned five times, but in a questioning manner).

Staff: Yes.

Patron: (Adopts a mysterious and uncomfortable silence).

Staff: Is there any thing else I can do for you?

Patron: Um. (Considers for a long time, and then replies sadly) No.

Staff: (Confused how to end a call when the patron doesn't say thank you). Okay then. Er, thank you.

Patron: (Doesn't say anything, but then starts to say something urgent just as Staff is hanging up).

End call.

Staff: (Looking around for co-worker to share tale of exasperating call with but finding only a co-worker who reminds them a lot of the Patron they were just talking to). Hi.

Co-worker: Do you know why there are no check ins coming through the machine?

Staff: Because it jammed ten minutes ago and instead of fixing it you just stared oddly at it while books bunched up and eventually everything shut down.

Co-worker: Oh. I thought there was something wrong with the book.

Staff: No.

Co-worker: Oh.

Staff: I'll fix it.

Co-worker: Oh.


  1. Oh, how I laughed when I read this most recent post as I'm resting (uncomfortably!) at home following hand surgery. And I've just realized that I might actually prefer painful hand surgery to dealing with painful patrons! (not really, but this may give other readers an idea of the nightmarish predicaments we library folks often find ourselves in)

    1. NO, no Lisa, painful patrons are like 10 percent better than hand surgery! I am encouraged that you are well enough to manage to poke out a message on some device and hope today is a wee bit better than yesterday?

      I am glad you are alive. Hang in there.

  2. Of course, without patrons and co-workers like these, you might run out of things to write about. Or not.

    And I'm glad I rarely had to work with AMH, just a few times at MP when I was the new kid. I bet I drove you crazy the times we worked together when I was still a "trainee." (No need to cofirm or deny.)

    1. Well, right. I don't know that there's any way to run out. It would be like if in all your visits to libraries all the libraries came to YOU, whether you wanted them to or not.

      I have nothing but positive recollections of working with you, though I suppose I can sound fearfully caustic sometimes here.


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