If you want to see a true representation of humanity, spend some time at your local public library and you’ll get to see them all.
Just a sample of the sorts of people we have come across recently:
The Good – people who find keys, phones, cash etc in or around the library and hand them in (this happens regularly)
The Bad – person who smashed the down pipe on the sink in the disabled toilet so that water spilled all over the floor
The Ugly – the person who cried discrimination against them because library staff would not remove a disabled person from the library
First of all, we are very fortunate that the overwhelming majority of people who come into the library fall well and truly into the ‘Good’ category. We would never survive the day if we didn’t have these wonderful people who use their local facility and appreciate all we do for them. And to those who tell library staff that, we are truly appreciative. It can be very stressful to have an unpleasant confrontation, so having your team supporting you and then getting the support of library users on top of that is just amazing.
All of that makes it easier when we come across other categories of users such as “They think library staff are stupid”. My favourite example is the people and yes it has happened more than once, who returns an item after a two or four week loan, the item is sopping wet and they say they borrowed it like that. Then there is the category of “Not thinking things through” where people leave valuable electronics, bikes, wallets, phones, etc unattended and/or unsecured and return to discover they have gone. I can sympathise with the loss, but a public library is exactly that – public and as we get the good, the bad and the ugly through the door, they are taking their chances.
But we are a community service and so we take it all, the good, the bad and the ugly and we deal with them all as best we can. And in my humble opinion, public library staff in general and from my experience, my colleagues at my work place, do a phenomenal job of it.