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Funny Things People Say in Libraries

Updated on June 11, 2015
Shelving in the East Wakefield Library in NH.
Shelving in the East Wakefield Library in NH. | Source

Librarians Treasure the Amazing Things People Say

I don't want to make you paranoid about talking to librarians, but sometimes we had a good laugh about something a library user said to us. Librarians love their library patrons and sincerely want to help them.

Funny situations do happen or someone says something without thinking it through. Here are the resulting humorous things people say in libraries. I hope you get a laugh or two from them (quietly, of course).

If you have a funny library story to tell, continue down to the guestbook at the very end. I'd love to hear it.

A Fun Story from My Library Days

Perfect for librarians and book lovers, a coffee mug that says "Life is simple. Eat. Sleep. Read."
Perfect for librarians and book lovers, a coffee mug that says "Life is simple. Eat. Sleep. Read." | Source

One day while giving a group of students a tour of the library, I led the class down the hallway past the staff room. The door was open and several library staff members were taking their lunch break. One was heating something on the stove and several others were eating at the table.

Gazing in at this domestic scene, one young student asked,

Where do the librarians sleep?

Librarian Action Figure - Shhhhhh

Nancy Pearl Librarian Action Figure
Nancy Pearl Librarian Action Figure

Librarians get their own action figure modeled after an actual librarian named Nancy Pearl. She's a vinyl five-inches tall figure that will shush you when you press a button on the back of the figure. It even comes with a tiny plastic book.

Great gift for your local librarian who will have fun demonstrating it to everyone in the library.

 
Understanding the library's new security system is difficult for some people.
Understanding the library's new security system is difficult for some people. | Source

Grown-Ups Say Funny Things Too

Another true library story

The library, where I worked in Maryland, installed a new security system for the books. Each book had a security device attached. The device would set off the security gate's alarm at the library's exit doors, if someone tried to sneak a book out without checking it out. This is similar to the security attachments and gates at many shopping malls.

A sign at the checkout desk informed library users of this new security feature. One library patron seemed puzzled by how the device would work. She asked,

Will it start beeping when my books are overdue?

Why You Should Be Nice to Librarians

Do you want a right or a wrong answer to your question? Zazzle mousepad with the saying "Be nice to the librarian. It could mean the difference between the right or the wrong answer."
Do you want a right or a wrong answer to your question? Zazzle mousepad with the saying "Be nice to the librarian. It could mean the difference between the right or the wrong answer." | Source

Mouse in the Library

We had evidence of mice in the library kitchen where I worked in Reisterstown, Maryland. It had been nibbling the staff lunches. Finally one got caught by it's leg in the old-fashioned snap trap that the janitor placed under the sink.

No one could figure out what to do with the injured mouse. The simple solution would have been to drop the trap with the mouse into a bucket of water. Perhaps all the cute mice stories that we used for storytimes kept us from this easy solution.

When I arrived at work, I saw the branch manager putting an open box into her car. I asked if she was going to a meeting. "No," she said, "I'm taking this mouse to the vet. " I think the unfortunate mouse was put to sleep and out of its misery by the vet, who probably had a good laugh about how soft-hearted librarians are.

Thinking of a Library Career?

Many people think a library is such a nice place to work that librarians should volunteer their time. In fact, librarians in university libraries or public libraries are required to have a Master's Degree in Library Services. Usually the check-out staff are clerical positions and some very small or underfunded libraries hire para-professionals in place of librarians.

A random remark by a library user, brought this misconception home to me. The Library Director told several staff members that the paychecks were ready for pick up in the office. The library patron, overheard the remark and in an amazed tone, said....

You mean you get paid to work here?

Should Libraries Arrange Their Books by Color? - Enjoy these short videoes of animated bookshelves

If I only had a bookshelf like this and the books would rearrange themselves by colors. Sometimes people struggled to remember a book title or the author. Oddly enough, they would remember the color of the book's binding, but not the other essential information.

At times library patrons complained about books being on the wrong place on the shelf. I suspect while the library is closed, the books all move around like the ones in these videos. Some don't make it back to their correct spot before the library opens in the morning.

I can't remember the title, but it had a red cover.

Library Bookshelves Rearranging Themselves

More Librarian Humor - Tax Money for Books

I never did this, but I always wanted to do it. I'll set the scene:

The library patron, with book in hand, indignantly approaches the information desk. "This book is a disgrace, and I can't believe the library has it." The librarian makes soothing sounds and takes a quick look at the offending book. The upset reader continues her tirade, "I don't want my tax money going for filth like this." After explaining the concept of intellectual freedom and that the library stocks books for all tastes, the librarian gives up on getting the irate woman to understand why the book won't be removed from the shelves. Handing the woman 25 cents, the librarian says,

OK, here's your tax money back.

Oh oh, evil alcohol in the library.
Oh oh, evil alcohol in the library. | Source

The Case of the Missing Magazine Ads

The first library I worked in had a problem with sections being scissored out of magazines. Staff kept an eye on patrons in the magazine area hoping to catch the culprit, but the problem persisted. It seemed to be advertisements that were missing, not articles or recipes.

We were really surprised when the janitor told a staff member that he was removing the alcohol and cigarette ads from the magazines because he disapproved of those.


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Mr. Bean at the Library - Funny library video from YouTube

Used booksales - a good fund raiser for libraries.
Used booksales - a good fund raiser for libraries. | Source

Sex Books in the Library Booksale

The president of my Friends of the Library group showed me several donated books. "Why do people give these to us," she complained. I glanced at them and one was a sexy novel and the other a sex manual. I wondered what her concern was.

"I can't put these in the book sale," she said. "What would people think if they saw them there?"

Puzzled, I asked what she intended to do with them. "I'll just put them in my garage with the other donated sex books," she replied. I imagine in her years of volunteering with the library booksale she has accumulated quit a stack of these.


When you die, what will your children think when they find your garage filled with books about sex?

Visitors for This Web Page Come from Many Places

People everywhere appreciate a funny library story.
People everywhere appreciate a funny library story. | Source

(flag map counter added May 11, 2012)

You must have a funny library story to share... - so go ahead and tell us about it here

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Those are some cute stories that you have collected. You could undoubtedly write many more! I am old enough to remember when we located books by using the Dewey Decimal system. Times have certainly changed! I have donated many books to our local library and no one would have to hide them in their garage. Ha!

    • Shorebirdie profile image

      Shorebirdie 2 years ago from San Diego, CA

      I work in a library, too. A lot of people are amazed that librarians are required to have a master's degree. They don't realize the complexity of the job. They also think it's always quiet and we have little stress and read books all day. We have to deal with a lot of issues with the public that many people don't know about and it can be stressful.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E. Franklin 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      Thanks for the chuckles. Who knew that life as a librarian was so hilarious.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      Have to admit this made me smile. I think of you when I go to the library and all the things I've learned from your articles. This one is a keeper! So really ... they do pay people to work there? :)

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 2 years ago

      I had a mouse with one leg caught in a trap - caught just his toe. I decided that, since he'd already cheated death that I'd let him go outside. The next morning, there he was - dead - in the trap again. I guess the lure of peanut butter was just too much for him.

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 2 years ago from Washington KS

      Thanks for the giggles. Loved the stories. One of my favorite people in the world was the high school librarian. She knew her students so well that she maintained mental lists of books they'd like. She's the one who recommended Gene Stratton Porter books to me.

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 2 years ago from Land of Aloha

      I enjoyed this article very much. The human thought process or lack of can be so entertaining in a library it appears! And, by the way, WHERE DO those librarians sleep? :)

    • profile image

      Donna Cook 2 years ago

      Terrific lens! I envision Donald Duck's nephews (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) inventing the Dewey Decimal System.

    • Jerzimom profile image

      Cheryl Fay Mikesell 3 years ago from Ladysmith, WI

      I use to work in a Library. This is great!

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 3 years ago from Central Florida

      @kimberlyschimmel: What a great idea, though some book jackets have a variety of colors, so there could be a multi-colored category.

    • kimberlyschimmel profile image

      Kimberly Schimmel, MLS 3 years ago from Greensboro, NC

      I have often thought we should add a "color of cover" to the MARC records because so often that color is what people remember rather than the author or even a fragment of the title!

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 3 years ago

      Had a good laugh with some of these stories. You must have had some great times in the libraries, Virginia, and thanks for sharing with us.

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 3 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      I love the mouse story!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      The Librarian who shushed me hard in the library became later in life one of my friends. I had her child in school.

    • Othercatt profile image

      Othercatt 4 years ago

      The story about the mouse reminded me of the first time I hit an animal with my car. I accidentally struck a rabbit and was so mortified, I rushed it to the vet. Even though I'm sure the rabbit was dead when we arrived, the old country vet put on a good show before declaring there was nothing he could do. lol

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Oh, and the image of the mouse in the bucket of water is one I could have done without. I wonder what the vet did with the mouse, probably just a little ether.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      All I remember is the most fun job I had ever - working in the periodicals department in the University library where I worked. Perhaps I had less of a work ethic than I do now, I remember being told : "Rose has a real social life at work." I love to have a social life where I work now, but unfortunately it is more serious. I love libraries and librarians.

    • Virginia Allain profile image
      Author

      Virginia Allain 4 years ago from Central Florida

      @RhondaAlbom: If you think of that story later, stop back and share it. I'd love to hear it.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 4 years ago from New Zealand

      I would imagine I have a funny library story, but I can't think of it now. I did love yours. My favorite being: âWill it start beeping when my books are overdue?â Thanks for the giggles. Blessed

    • alphatraduk profile image

      alphatraduk 4 years ago

      I like the "I can't remember the title but it had a red cover" Lol it's great when you work with the general public, they do say some funny things lol! Great lens thanx :)

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