Friday, December 4, 2009

Seeing what the public can do to a restroom can turn down the volume down on everything else

Of course I haven't seen everything, but let's just say once you're the unfortunate discoverer of book that has a used condom as a bookmark or have been called to help unstop a toilet with a dildo in it, it is safe to say it changes you. It changes you in ways that library school never thought to cover during instruction.

So I'm often amused when someone tries to get a rise out of me by requesting help finding books on "taboo" subjects. Today, I was approached by two older teenage boys who kept elbowing each other while I waited with my best patient impression for them to make their request. The more mature of the two finally leaned in and, in a mock whisper, said, "We want books on...MARIJUANA!" which prompted them into a fit of nervous Beavis and Butthead like "heh-heheheh-heheh-heh" laughter.
Without batting an eyelash I asked what specifically they'd like to know about marijuana and was met with silence. I informed them that we did have books in our collection that dealt with the topic of marijuana, but that these were books on substance abuse or the argument for and against decriminalization of the drug. I also explained we had articles in our databases, but these probably related to the same topics, but also some medical purposes and perhaps pop culture references.
The two stood in front of me without saying anything so I finally asked, "Are you looking for information on growing marijuana?"
They started giggling again, but when I told them that the library didn't have any books on that topic they gave up and walked away.

Last year, when I was working at another branch, a junior college student asked if we had any books on "toad licking" because, in his words, he had heard "that stuff will totally fuck you up." I concurred that I had heard the same information and then blew his mind by telling him that there was a documentary about the psychedelic effects of toad licking available at the nearby university library. When I told him that he couldn't check out the video since he wasn't a student there, but could view it in the library, I sensed his disappointment.
"What's wrong? Would you like me to continue the search or do you think this video will provide the type of information you're looking for?" I asked.
He sat in the chair and after a minute confessed, "Oh, I just didn't expect you to really find anything. Nevermind," and then left.

The things you can learn at your local library.


  1. Yeah, I've worked in libraries enough in my youth to know that trying to embarrass or shock a librarian is well nigh impossible. Bless 'em.

    Foolish to buy too much into the hollywood version.

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  3. that part cracks me up: "I didn't expect you to find anything." it's like he just saw an episode of Leave it to Beaver and thought they would freak out the librarian by asking for something illegal. what they fail to realize is that I don't care. my only goal is to find the thing, regardless of its ability to make stoners laugh. the worst one I ever had were the three teen girls who wanted to know about genital warts and didn't giggle, but comforted the one who seemed to be the most upset. I just try to not look those people in the face and let them have their info without worrying that the librarian will tell everyone about their problems... which I just did.. oops.

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