Monday, August 27, 2007

Field Guide to Librarians

So usually in these notes I detail my various experiences dealing with some of our more unique patrons. However, since the AC is out today, no one has really been coming in and word gets quickly around to the homeless and crazies that we aren't the coolest place in town. So instead I thought I should describe my co-workers in a guide which will better aclament you, the literate taxpayer, just who you are dealing with when you are damning us to hell for letting your 15 year old check out Harry Potter.

For the most part, librarians are female. Now, it's quite stereotypical to label them all "cat ladies." In all actuality, some of them only own 10 cats or less. I'm just kidding, but seriously, stereotypes have to come from somewhere. A more accurate description is that all librarians enjoy lolcats. I kid you not. If you look at any librarian's desktop, 9 times out of 10 you will see something from Don't ask me how that despite coming from different socioeconomic backgrounds, everyone seems to find a picture of a kitten with the caption "OH LULZ INTERWEB DOWNS!! MONORAIL CAT TO TEH RESCUE!" the funniest thing they've ever seen and has to look at it everytime they try to log onto firefox.

Like I said, the vast majority of librarians are female, and there are various subgroups that comprise the gender. I shall attempt to detail some of the more common ones.

1. The Old Maid. These are generally your upper level librarians in managerial positions. They went to library school and have numerous upper level degrees in library science. In exchange for their commitment and hard work, they get a job with the government being a civil servant of the lowest order. They openly lust after the pay of teachers, which is pretty sad when you think about it. They have forgone marriage and having a family in order to nuture a branch from a sapling into a strong oak pillar of the community. In exchange the community uses the library for free internet and child care. However, to over-compensate for their poor judgment in life goals, they have put it upon themselve to be the wacky best buddies of everyone. Like a bizzaro Steve Carrell from The Office. Most often, this over-compensation manifests itself in a wacky hat or colorful flower print clothing. Their bubbly enthusiam is not phony, despite the appearence of it being so. They are genuinely excited to help out a patron and rave on and on about the latest library activity. This species is simular to the Children's Librarian, but not quite as patronizing. They often drive surprisingly fancy cars, such as Lexus' and Fiats. They also have incredilby photographic memories and can remember exactly what a patron checked out 3 years ago. They are usually fearful of computers and technology, preferring a card catalog and microfilm to the newfangled contraptions.

2. Children's Librarian. These are the library science students that joined the dark side by getting married and having children. Though many years have passed since they made that fateful decision, they are currently the overbearing grandparents of a whole brood. Their husbands usually own some sort of blue color buisiness, whose influence has afforded them a chance to live in the country, commuting great distances to work everyday. They are patronizing and they happen to know every single children's book ever published, ever. In addition, they have the annoying habit of refering to books as "Old Friends." A sample of their lexicon. (In a sing-songy Carol Channing voice) "Well, here's a book about a fire truck and the little boy who loves it. I know it may not be the newest book on the shelf, but it's one of my old friends! I know the pages may be a little ratty, but that means it's been loved by many, MANY children. I think it may have even won a Caldacott award! I'm sure that if you gave it a chance, it could become one of YOUR friends TOO!" In addition, they run Storytime, which is known to the workers at any library as "Hell Hour" due to the number of children running around, often pantless. However, this doesn't shake the Children's Librarian, who is overjoyed to see kids reading. They usually drive a old battered minivan, covered in American flag magnets and a bumper sticker annoucing to the world their grandchildren.

2a. Young Children's Librarian. A sub-species of the Children's Librarian, these are bright-eyed and hopeful young women who're fresh out from getting their master's. They are yet to be jaded by the world of libraries and are most often seen over-decorating the children's room for "Summer Reading" programs. They are without exception single, and dream of meeting their soulmate somehow through the library. However, as we will discuss later, this dream is mere fancy.

3. Young Adult Librarian. Ah, the hippest of the librarians. They are the most "with it" and are the most down with what all the "phat" kids are "jiggy" with. They know about anime and manga! Yes, you heard me correctly, manga! If you want the latest Ranama 1/2 book, they're the ones to go to. They often dress up for no apparent reason and are usually seen breaking the rules about reading at the library by busting out their copy of "His Dark Materials." You heard me right, they cosplay. They try to make up for their social awkwardness in high school by becoming equally awkward for a whole new generation. Whenever any sort of movie comes out that is remotely based on a book, they are the ones who champion its cause at various book talks throughout the high schools. Even for "Eragon" (which is a private joke among librarians. They love recommending it even though they'll freely admit it is one of the worst written books in the world. It's only one step about "Chewbacca comes to my school and beats up Todd the bully" fan-fiction). Still, they are the ones responsible for getting graphic novels and TV series DVDs put into circulation. They drive late model Kias and Hyndais, often with Sailor Moon decals.

4. Reference Librarians. Before we say anything else, they are smarter than you. They know everything. They know where every piece of knowledge is contained throughout numerous databases and tomes of enormous size, they only pretend to utilze these sources of data in a vain attempt to make mere mortals more comfortable with their omnipotence. They did not go to library science school, chosing instead more ancient and noble degrees in History and English lit. And as a result of their superior intellect and cunning, they are bored. But not just any kind of bored. The vast immeasure sense of ennui that comes only through transcending several layers of knowledge. Yes, they will help you find a book on Julius Caesar for your 7th grade social studies class, but they don't have to like you. They know that they resisted the dark side and chose not to go to law school or get their MBAs. No, they are much too good for that. They don't need money to inflate their fragile egos. They channel this boredom into trolling on websites, they are without a doubt the best at finding excellent website to waste long hours of the day. You can usually find them playing "Kingdom of Loathing" at their desk covered with action figures. If they could figure out a way to play "World of Warcraft" without losing their jobs, they would. To them, "Unshelved" is the funniest webcomic ever. They also like going on Mental Floss so they can read articles which they vainly hope will impress their ever dwendelling group of friends. They grow weary of your inane stupidity and are usually about this close from snapping. They drive Scions and Vespas, and like emo bands. In short, they very well be the worst breed. Unless you have a question which might tease their intellect, you are best to stay away.

5. Circulation Librarians. They are divorcees who need extra cash. Or retired teachers. They don't understand the new check procedures and revert back constantly to the old DOS system, even though the new GUI is much easier. They are neuortic, wear unfashionable glasses, and truly fit the embodiment of the "cat lady" persona. They are sticklers for regulation, not daring to bend the rules for anyone. And god forbid if you don't have your card. They have the most overt problems and mental shortcomings. They drive the car that their ex's new trophy wife didn't like

6. Hot Librarians. Sorry, they don't exist. In the realms of schoolboy daydreaming, there is the fantasy of the incredibly attractive librarian, who's pent-up sexual frustration has reached a boiling point and is about to take her hair down from that tight bun. Well, I'd hate to be the one to ruin it for ya, but that's about as a unlikely as a nurse wearing a garter belt to check on her comatose patient. In all my travels to the various librarians, I haven't seen many librarians who rate over a 6 in the ole "10-point scale." That being said, I have seen one that actually fit the description of attractive. However, the powers that be realize this fact and have condemned her to the archives room at one of the least visited libraries. So sorry boys, you probably should find another thing to lust over, like the new Halo 3 screenshots.

Now that we've covered the basics of female librarians, let's get to the minority of all minorites, the male librarians. There are 3 basic groups, each of is but a fraction of the actual librarians.

1. The Gay dude. Yeah, most male librarians are gay. Get over it. They're usually the most entertaining to be around if you're working a late shift. They're often funny, sarcastic, and always ready to go with a good quip. Kinda like Uncle Edwin from "Bewitched." They drive Volkswagons and BMWs.

2. The older black dude. These are the equivilent of having Lando Calrissian or Mace Windu check out your books. They are in their 40s to 60s and have seen it all. They bring their lunch in a Whole Foods bag. They call you "Young blood" as a compliment. They've seen the old days at the library and are glad to have the new technology appease the populace. They often sport quite impressive facial hair. They flirt shamelessly with attractive mothers who come in for storytime. In short, they are everything you've ever wanted to be, but aren't. Their coolness flows freely from their essence like fresh morning dew. They are somehow able to afford Hummers and Yukons even on a librarians salary. But no one needs to ask how, they're just cool like that.

3. The pale white kid. The complete opposite of Lando Windu working the counter, these dudes all have one thing in common, they are whipped. Bad. Usually to some girl who works as a YA librarian at some other branch that outweighs him by a weight class (I'm not saying the girls are fat, it's just these guys are all pasty whelterweights). They look like they've never seen the light of day and try to overcome their pale-esque appearance by growing patchy and pathetic attempts at facial hair. They are to pitied. They are in a constate state of engagement, never actually getting married, but never having the guts to call it off. They usually surf the web for Warhammer figurines and check out dating sites during the working day, never daring to attempt such a feat on their home computer where their king kong fiancee would beat the crap out of them even looking at another girl. They are usually a semester a way from starting Library Science school, mainly because their "beloved" is forcing them to go. Remember that girl in middle school who wasn't that pretty, but made good grades, all the teachers liked her, played trumpet in the school band, and wrote crappy stories about ponies? That's who they are engaged to. They don't drive cars because their significant others have deemed them unworthy to drive. You will often find them sadly eating their packed lunch in the break room since they can't be trusted to eat out for lunch.

4. Tony's. That's me! I really need to describe myself?

Finally, there is one more group that I must mention. Pages. Pages are overworked and overpaid. They are the kings of slacking off to check their facebooks and know the furthest limits of the internet filters. They are the ones to bear the vast majority of the grunt work, but are paid ridculous sums of money for their time. They are the most normal employees of the library, since they only work 2 hours a day and are using the experience to pad their college resumes. In addition, they are the only persons at the library to date, since their outrageous salaries coupled with no bills allows them a lavish lifestyle for a high school student.

So there you go. We aren't all crazy, we're just smarter than you. Too bad we never figured out a way to fully apply ourselves

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