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Library Life: My Favorite Patron Question

As I talk with people about my job at the library, they sometimes ask me if I get asked any weird or frustrating questions. Librarians like to swap stories, too (always withholding names and identifying information, of course), on Facebook groups and in person. Every librarian gets these questions, like the infamous “Can you help me find that red book?” I’m proud to say I have sometimes figured out what books patrons were looking for by vague descriptions and a few follow-up questions, but it doesn’t usually happen. My favorite encounter so far involves education, so there’s no better time to tell it than now, when all the kids are going back to school:

A few years back, I was at the front desk when a woman came in looking for educational DVDs for her early-elementary kids. I walked her over to our Juvenile nonfiction DVD collection. When she asked for recommendations, I suggested the Magic School Bus and Schoolhouse Rock! series, which are both well done and still popular with kids in our area. She looked at some of the cases and replied that cartoons weren’t educational and she wanted something live-action. I asked for an example of the kind of thing she was looking for, and she said she wanted “something like Harry Potter, because it takes place in a school.”

Yes, she was serious. And, yes, I kept a neutral expression as I directed her to something else (I think it was Bill Nye). Sadly, as so many stories end, the woman was never seen or heard from again, so I never got any follow-up. Like I said, this is one of my favorite work stories, but let me know in the comments below if you have any funny stories to share from your jobs!

Coming Soon

Did you know that September 22 is Hobbit Day? Many Lord of the Rings fans celebrate this day, which is the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, in a variety of ways. My next post is going to be about this franchise. Because the day celebrates Hobbits, the post will involve food. See you then!

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