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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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Regular patron

Public library users consist of occasional users and the people who are there every day. The new Librarian soon notices that he sees some of the same people frequently. In the beginning he thinks they are scholars. Then he finds out they are not, for the most part, scholars. These are the regular patrons. They are the people who get to the building before the staff does, and they keep the staff honest by refusing to leave the building until the exact minute of closing.

Often their presence is an enigma to the staff. Too young to be retired, too old to be still in school, they are there every day. They know when the periodicals clerk is late in getting back from lunch. They know when there is a staff birthday party going on in the building. They know the staff by name and often have better attendance records than the employees. Sometimes, the level of service they receive is different than the level of service they feel they should receive. Because they are in everyday and know everyone by name they feel their needs should be put first over other patrons.

Often staff member can feel the opposite way. The Librarian may feel that it is the occasional user, who has the truly legitimate needs, who should be given first priority. The staff may ignore that person who has nothing to do all day but sit in the library. Neglected at home, friendless and sometimes poor, the regular patron feels the need to “throw her weight around” when she is at the library. Here she is known and respected. And in a battle with a staff member she has the advantage of time. She wants something and she will wait there until she gets it. She knows the magazine she wants was just delivered by the mailman. Her time is too valuable to wait until the clerk gets back from lunch and finally puts out the new periodicals. She wants to read her magazine now. She wants the Reference librarian to go to the mailroom, pick out the magazine and hand it to her, right now. Not when the clerk gets back from lunch or wherever she is. She knows that if she is persistent, someone will give in to her because it then means they can then be rid of her, at least for a while. And she knows what type of cake waiting in the lunchroom.


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