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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Gripe of the Day

Most of my patrons are a joy to work with. Occasionally, I get an overbearing parent or an unappreciative child, but there is usually some redeeming factor in our encounter. But not my Unreasonable Kindergarten Teacher. Lucky me, she only seems to come when I'm on the reference desk (that's how these things work, don't they?) On her first visit she asks the circulation clerk for books, and the clerk points her to me. The teacher is looking for rhyming books. This isn't too difficult, but she's not very satisfied with what I show her. The reference interview lasts longer than usual, and I'm slightly annoyed when she leaves. She didn't seem to understand that I'm not the checkout clerk, so finally I check out her books for her. Second visit, she asks the circulation clerk for help, and she points her in my direction. The teacher wants more rhyming books. Specifically, she's moved on to two-syllable rhyming words with her students. The tricky part is she wants a Dr. Seuss book. I show her all the Dr. Seuss books. Hop on Pop and their ilk are too "easy". And she doesn't like the rhyming words in the bigger Seuss books. I tell her that's probably wise because, in my experience, Kindergarteners respond best to books with only a few lines on the pages. She breathes down my neck as I look through the stacks and stands in front of the reference desk looking through her books. She must have vision problems because she holds the books closely to her face. She tries to check out with me, and I send her back to the clerk...and breathe a sigh of relief that that 30 minute ordeal is over. Third visit, and she again asks the clerk her question, and is again pointed to me. Today she wants pattern books. Most of the books I bring her just aren't good enough. But, "patterns" is something that shows up pretty easily in the catalog so it takes less time than the two-syllable Dr. Seuss rhyming books request. While she is blocking my desk looking through her books I remind her that check out is with the clerk. But five minutes later when she is ready to go she still interrupts me while I'm speaking to another patron; she wants to check these books out. I stifle an inner groan. Fourth visit is a phone call, and I'm leaving for the day. I take name and number and tell her my colleague will be in touch when things calm down. Fifth visit she comes in for the books my colleague has pulled, and I'm on the desk. Before she can even ask her question the clerk sends her to me. The request had been for one big book about "getting along". She wanted one book that would explain respect/caring/and something else I've already blocked from my mind. None of the books my colleague has pulled works for her. I explain to her that the book she wants simply does not exist. She keeps repeating her request in different ways, like this will solve the problem. I tell her there is no book that defines "getting along" and even if there were I couldn't just look it up on the computer because we can't search the content of every single book. In between her repeating her request I stumble into the stacks to find anything else while she stands in front of the desk holding books to her nose. She informs me that the books I've been pulling aren't appropriate for kindergarten students because the best books only have a few lines on the pages. (I wonder where she learned this, see Visit #2). She also tells me she's disappointed in the library because we usually have much more than this available. By the time she's asking me to check out her books (while the clerk holds out her hand saying "check out is over here"), I'm about ready to scream. My tactic for when she returns is to tell her that maybe the book isn't perfect but she can use it as a springboard for discussion. (And I'll try to leave out the part I'm really thinking, which is to quit finding books to do your teaching for you). What's even more amazing, is that I haven't once heard her say thank you. Maybe if she's dissatisfied enough she'll just go to a different library, that would be nice.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Yikes! It sounds like this person is a little needy. I'm sure you've already tried this but does this teacher even know how to search in the catalog for her own materials? Maybe she just needs to be educated? Of course, you can always resort to mysteriously leaving the desk when you see her come in or maybe you should just ignore her and act like she's invisible.