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Mr. Mustache, another librarian blog

I am a reference librarian with experience in both the public and state government fields. I am doing this on a whim, sort of like the mustache I grew when I was 19 and still have in my 50's.

Location: New Jersey, United States

I am a state worker and a librarian.

Monday, June 19, 2006

The Coffee Break

The one indispensable part of the day is the coffee break. Well actually there are two of them, morning break and afternoon break. The break room is where gossip is exchanged, rumors are started, coffee is drunk, complaining is done and where all the staff members actually see each other. The break is theoretically fifteen minutes long but the typical break goes from twenty to forty five minutes in length. Like praying to Mecca or an English tea, it is the most important ritual in the life of the library. The staff room is the chapel dedicated to this institution. Surprisingly, telephoning and looking at pictures are tasks that are rarely done during break. These tasks are normally performed during the working part of the day at people's desks.

Sitting in the staff room is one of the most enlightening experiences you can achieve as a librarian. Always pay attention to the older Para-professionals at these times. Here you will learn anecdotes of the past, who dyes their hair, who is older than they look, the way things used to be done and why things should have been kept that way.

The staff room is often a source of dispute in a library. Dishes are left in the sink. The refrigerator needs cleaning. Tables need to be wiped. The staff room has its overachievers and its underachievers. Some people make coffee. Some people don’t. Some people clean spills, theirs and other peoples’. Some people don’t. Some people clean out the coffee pots. Some people don’t. Reminders to some people can result in “you’re not my mother” and other such rejoinders.

There are always signs in the break room reminding you that your mother doesn’t work here and that it’s bad manners to leave the microwave dirty. I wrote a sign once explaining how to clean out the microwave. When the microwave was stolen they also stole my sign. To this day I wonder what ever became of the cute cartoon I drew, Mickey Microwave.

Cleaning out the refrigerator is always a big project and the source of multiple signs and (today) e-mails. Some people clean out the refrigerator. Some people don’t. Someone’s lunch inevitably gets thrown out when the refrigerator is cleaned.

The young librarian is smiling. He doesn't know yet that he threw out Mrs. Bueschlecher's lunch.


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