Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Beleaguered Librarian

Librarians are some of my favorite people. In my experience, they love to talk books and are always so helpful.

Even with the prevalence of home computers, librarians are kept busy searching for requested books and information. Most requests are ordinary but some can be very wacky and amusing... and astounding... and maybe even a little horrifying. Get ready because the wacky request about to be revealed is a doozy! (at least to me, but I am a little wacky myself)

Today's wacky request is courtesy of the lovely Ms. A, the newest librarian at the county library. Such an interesting young woman--- and not just because we have similar opinions regarding a multitude of bookish issues. ;o) She has been accepted into the graduate program at the University of Oklahoma with a full scholarship and aspires to be an academic librarian someday. Obviously, Ms. A is one smart librarian!

Before I reveal the the wacky request, here is a fact about Ms. A that will explain why this made me hysterical. Ms. A is not a native of rural Oklahoma. Oh no, she is a recent transplant from Los Angeles, California and is suffering from a bad case of culture shock--- or 'lack of culture' shock as the case may be.

So Ms. A, aspiring to academic librarianhood and already bemused and dismayed by the Okie hoi polloi, tells me this one day (actually, she told it on FB but it was so absurd I had to go to the library and hear the tale in person).

As told by Ms. A: So, I get a phone call yesterday from this lady wanting books on how to identify communists in your community and how to fight communism??? I tried to (very politely) explain to her that the Cold War is over, the Soviet Union is long gone, and McCarthyism was, looking back, a bad thing. Nothing I said seemed to register... and she kept insisting that communism is an imminent threat!!! Weird!!!!

Very funny but also astounding and horrifying... poor beleaguered librarian. This one must have pushed her diplomacy skills to the limit.

Thank you, Ms. A, for allowing me to share this with all the readers of this blog.

Dear readers: If you are a librarian or are just friends with any librarians, what are some of the wacky requests you/they have received?

For Ms. A and all the other wonderful hardworking librarians in the world:


  1. Probably related to the bust of the Russian spy ring and ensuing spy swap.

  2. I love librarians and in my experience they are so so helpful and bookloving!

  3. +JMJ+

    I am reminded of that bit in Louisa May Alcott's Little Women (well, Good Wives, actually) in which Jo is trying to write a sensational, lurid story that will get sold and ends up exciting the curiosity of her local librarians by demanding all the books they have on poisons!

  4. Well, locally, there was a strange request by a book blogger for a book called White Russian by some author starts with B, lives in Sydney. Strange woman had her librarian going crazy looking for a book that didn't exist!

  5. Haha! Great story :-) I'm a librarian and I've had some interesting requests. You sometimes get little old ladies ringing in asking for help with their crosswords ;-) What's 6 down? R something something something S...

  6. I'm a librarian, too. I was once asked: "How much stuffing should be put in a pillow?"
    And: "Can you translate a comic book from Tagalog into English for me?" (When I told him I didn't speak Tagalog he said: "Well I'm sure SOMEBODY there does!" This was at a small library in Wisconsin...)

  7. Ah,, working with the public. I always imagined librarians were asked intellectual and literary questions. I should have known better.
    As someone who uses the library on a weekly basis, I thank you all for putting up with the silly questions. Has anyone thought of writing a book about all the questions? I would read it.

  8. Kim--- Bet that is why the lady was all worked up!

    Hannah-- Me too. I enjoy chatting with the librarians as much as I like perusing the stacks.

    E-- I had forgotten that!

    DeLynne-- Wonder who in the world that strange woman could be? haahahahhah Another biblio-blooper to add to the coffers--or should we start calling our personal bookish gaffes biblio-blunders. Sounds a bit more adult than my 'goofy doofus'.

    Booksploring-- I passed that one on to Ms. A today. Librarians should band together and start the Psychic Crossword Hotline. ;o)

    Nancy-- those are too funny! Btw, I had to google Tagalog.

    Sari-- that would be a funny book. Maybe one of the clever librarians reading this post will oblige...

  9. Lesa, I am going with Biblio-blunders. Editing my old posts to reflect the new name. Love it!

  10. Nancy, it amazes me people's attitudes towards languages. Like the man being sure someone in your library could speak Tagalog. I've often had to explain that, yes, I can speak French and Italian, but NO, not Swedish, or NO, not German. I guess they think all languages are the same, maybe?

  11. +JMJ+

    On languages . . . A priest friend of mine who once studied in Rome said that whenever he went about in his cassock, tourists from all over the world would stop him to ask for directions. And they always addressed him in their own native languages, without so much as a "Do you speak . . . ?" to open the conversation. They just assumed that since he was a priest, there was a good chance he would understand them! LOL! Well, that gives new meaning to "speaking in tongues"! ;-)

  12. Well, I don't know if this would count, but when I worked at a library as yes, a librarian, a middle-aged man came up and asked me if I could help him find some books. He brought a list with him, so I accompanied him to the stacks -- where it's dark and creepy, mind you! -- and turns out, the books he wants are all about NECROPHILIA.

    I then used my little walkie-talkie gadget and pretended to call for someone else to help us, haha.

    There's a lot more creepy stories for sure, but that has got to be the creepiest!!

  13. @En, I guess priests are familiar to Catholics, so ergo, not foreign speakers. Maybe? Also, they are stereotyped as very learned men.

    @Jillian yeesh! yikes! yuk!

  14. Jillian--- That is creepy! Guess the book Sari mentioned will need a creepy chapter too.


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