Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Librarian Life

I read several blogs written by fellow librarians who document the bizarre and comical antics of library patrons.  I'm not talking about the average citizen who comes in to check out a bestseller or the students using the computers for homework, although they can be pretty entertaining at times.  I'm talking about the transients, the unstable, the (dare I say it?) crazies who equate the words "public library" with "free answer to all life's problems".  Even in a little bitty town in the far corner of Kansas, an amazing parade of humanity comes through those doors. 

Laughing at others' encounters with patrons made me decide to share about one of my favorites:  The man who wanted to UN-file his income tax.  During March and April the public access computers are continually busy with folks filing taxes and we face a deluge of questions - most of which we can't answer for legal reasons as we're not trained tax preparers.  But, my favorite is the young man who had completed and submitted his tax return, waited approximately two days and then returned to the library to ask for assistance in UN-filing.  Seems his girlfriend had filed her return using a different on-line filing site and had received her refund within a couple days.  Since his had not arrived yet, he had determined that the best course of action was to UN-file on the site he used and RE-file on the site his girl had chosen, thus ensuring him a speedier refund.

No amount of explaining would convince him that a.) you can not UN-file or b.) all returns go to the same IRS and they will process your refund as they receive it.  He finally left in a snit, convinced that we were hiding the secret for instant tax refunds, and hasn't been back since. 

If you are a librarian or just want to get an inside glimpse of the job, you might want to look at these blogs, among others:

A Librarian's Guide to Ettiquette
Comma, You Idiot
Tales From Library Land


  1. Oh that is just too funny. I work in finance so am inundated with calls from our clients needing info. for their accountants or self-filing. I get a lot of silly questions due to easily misunderstood info. but I have never been asked how to un-file. I would like to know that myself ;0)

  2. As a tax preparer, I've gotten that before. I guess people think since it's not "done" (i.e. they haven't gotten their refund) it can somehow be withdrawn!