another post affirming that librarians and libraries smell.

Jessica of Jessica Hearts Libraries (AWWWW) has written a neat little post about libraries, rules, and everyone’s favorite, SIGNAGE.*

A couple of my favorite parts:

You’ve lost touch with reality when you think over-signage will stop the bathroom questions, and you’ve completely lost your mind once you insist the precious number two pencils be kept in the locked drawer. And really, will the library go bankrupt if the last stapler disappears off the reference desk?


Remember, these aren’t just your patrons or “customers”; these are your neighbors, your fellow man. The library, for better or for worse, is your home. We should live up to our notorious reputation for sharing, and welcome our twisted and sometimes smelly world into our home.

I think anyone who works in a service industry has the ability and the tendency to dehumanize the people they serve, which is a coping mechanism because sometimes? People are awful. They can be cruel, unreasonable, filthy, and sometimes even dangerous. Yet when you’re in a service profession–which librarianship is, for better or for worse–you have to do your best to actually serve, and do it with grace, humor, and kindness. Not an easy task, and it is something I think all library workers struggle with on a continual basis.

*I grew up on a farm. When it came time to fatten up the cattle for slaughter (yes, lovely, I know), we would round them all up, put them in a tiny pen, and force feed them a concotion called “silage” for weeks and weeks until it was time to load them up and sell them. Silage is damp, fermented, gross, and used only to bloat an animal into fattness to be eaten.

The word signage makes me think of silage. Draw all other comparisons at your own risk.

One response to “another post affirming that librarians and libraries smell.”

  1. I like your point about accepting that you’re in a service industry. I heard someone say once that it’s ridiculous for a janitor to resent people walking across his freshly-vacuumed carpet, because that’s the whole purpose of his job: to keep the carpet fit to walk on. Like a restaurant busboy resenting people who dirty up tables–if the patrons weren’t there to make the table dirty, there’d be no need for the busboy, and he’s out of a job. I know it’s not in the job description to tell the library patrons where the bathroom is, but where would librarians be without those patrons? Being accessible (even friendly!) for the dumb stuff shows people you will be there when they have a question that is more ‘worthy’ of a librarian, and then you gradually end up with a customer for life.

    Besides, in general I believe I’m a better person when I’m nice to the people who don’t deserve it (like those I’m tempted to classify as dumb, or smelly, or people I’m just annoyed with). If I’m only ever nice to the people I already like, I don’t think I could live with myself.


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