Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Welcome to the Lawton Public Library

I thought you might like to spend the evening with me. I work here at the Lawton Public Library four hours every WED night, 5:00-9:00 p.m. It’s the epitome of a part-time job.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a librarian? Stay with me and find out.

People are often surprised to know that librarians have Masters Degrees. I’ve had more than one patron say, “You have to go to college to be a librarian?”

Roxanne and Afzal were at the reference desk when I showed up for work. They told me about the new procedures for dealing with problem patrons. You never know when some scary, angry and/or crazy person might show up. So far I have been able to handle most situations. It’s kind of scary to have a code phrase that means, “Call 911, I’m in trouble!”

A student from school just stopped in to say hi. He was in the neighborhood and wanted to see me at work at my other job. His comment about the library was, “This place is too big.” This is actually a pretty small public library.

Before Josh left, a regular patron (meaning he comes to the library a lot) came to join our conversation and to complain about another regular patron who wasn’t even there.

Gary got on a computer and Josh left while I was copying tax extension forms. The parking lot was full when I got here. I couldn’t imagine what was going on. Duh! April 14, the last day of tax help. And I expect there to be lots of people requesting extension forms. (I actually only made and gave 4 copies.)

I had several people ask me tax questions. Those are questions we are not allowed to answer. I’m not a tax expert and have no business interpreting the tax law for them.

I just got back from showing a lady where information about Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians is. Her actual question was, “Where do you keep your Indian books?”

I spend a chunk of my time performing menial computer tasks: deleting people off the waiting list, telling other people what number they are on the waiting list, helping a man find his computer, teaching people how to sign in at the reservation station and how to get their print jobs, filter one computer and unfilter another, and shut down computers when we close.

Some computer problems are more difficult to resolve. Tonight’s problems included settling a dispute between patrons at the reservation computer, fixing a girl’s frozen computer, printing a tax form on the reference computer for a patron whose computer wouldn’t print, and getting things straightened out when one patron printed another’s print job.

It isn’t all trouble shooting. A lot of questions are easy, like, “What time do you close?” or “Do you have WiFi?” Two soldiers came in tonight with their laptops and were so happy to know we have WiFi for them. They thanked me for the WiFi, they thanked me for the electric plug ins and they thanked me again when they left. I get thanked a lot. It never gets old and it always makes me feel good.

It also isn’t busy all the time. Beth & Owen come every Wednesday to visit me as they did tonight and I have time to visit with them. Owen played on the kids’ computer and checked out a DVD. Beth caught me up on what’s been happening with her. Owen usually gets a gum ball in the lobby before they leave. Tonight they were going out for taco night at Taco Mayo.

I read my e-mail in between questions and problems. There are city e-mails about road closings and people retiring, things of interest from library employees, lots of offers to sell me drugs or be my friend or make me rich. I can usually get the good stuff read and the junk deleted during my four hours at the library.

The phone rang. “Do you have the complete book of spells?” “The naughty and nice book of spells?” “The new and complete book of tarot?” No, No and No. The caller was not interested in getting them through Inter-Library Loan.

A high school senior came to the library with her dad to get books on Shakespeare’s Richard III for her senior paper. I told her we have huge sets of commentaries in reference. She said she didn’t want commentaries, she wanted books with information about the book. I told her that’s what commentary means. Oh. We found lots of information but she also didn’t know that reference books don’t check out. She wanted to do the work at home with books she could check out. So we went to the Shakespeare non-fiction section and she found lots of stuff that she liked there. Mission accomplished.

Another thing I do when no one needs me is get books for our kindergarten teacher. She uses the Letter People curriculum that has lists of books to go with each letter. I usually find 5-10 books for each letter. Tonight I got books for letter K.

I worked on the newsletter and hung up teen on-line book club poster. The on-line book clubs and the Library Newsletter are my two main projects.

And now we enter the rush of closing. Finishing up, closing down, straightening up, making sure the lingering people know it’s time to go, then the PA System announces, “The Lawton Public Library is now closed” and Donna locks the doors.

We gather up our stuff, I set the alarm, and we all head for home. Another night at the library concluded. It’s a great job.

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