Monday, January 3, 2011

Library Backroom Duties: Lost and Never to Be Found...

Everyone that works circ or info has backroom duties, these are what you would call "off the desk busywork."  For info it usually involves weeding irrelevant books on cosmetology published in the 60's or reapplying Dewey spine labels that some brats have pulled off.  For circ it is usually related to charging patrons account for damaged books they claimed were like that when they borrowed them.

With budget cuts the saying is, "Doing More With Less," well, eff that.  It seems like it is, management does less by making the everyone else do more.  My backroom duty was running the lists for books that have gone MIA, whether they were lost due to patrons or the library's fault.  There are several lists each week and I am the only one who works on them so it keeps me busy when I'm not people watching at the circ desk.

Recently, I was given two more tasks: Lost and Found and ILL's.  Both of which were duties that managers held.  Of course, these managers did not get any new duties added to their plate.  Why a circ person would be placed in charge of ILL's I have no idea, I guess no one on info wanted that one.  I mean, who wants to be bothered by patrons wondering why their ILL: Fiddlercrabs of the World, has not yet come in after only one week of requesting it.  Never mind the fact that this book is available at a reciprocal library system and that the patron is too lazy to drive the extra 5 miles to register for a library card with that system and borrow it directly.

Items placed in the Lost and Found can be utterly disgusting sometimes.  You would think my coworkers would have better discretion on what to place in the box and what to throw away.  Then again, these are people who have more than a decade of experience, but turn to me the instant they run into the slightest issue with a patron.  That's a whole other rant on its own.

Some things are just never meant to be picked up.  A patron never picked up the bill from her OB GYN, it sat in the Lost and Found bin for 5 months before I ended up shredding it.  Yeah, that was fun trying to tactfully write an email to her, letting her know it was found.  Another patron never came by to pick up their bill for a lawyer to review their shoplifting case which involved viewing footage from a security camera from a department store.

After a month, items are up for grabs to staff.  There really has not been anything of interest or value.  My collection of flash drives is growing weekly.  I format each drive and clean them from whatever viruses/malware patrons end up collecting from the public PCs and I bring them back to work for my coworkers to use.

There is also a lot of clothes that are never picked up either.  I don't know how patrons forget their winter jackets when they walk out in near freezing weather.  Thankfully there is a clothing donation box at the end of the parking lot so I don't have to go too far to make my monthly drop off.


  1. I used to be in charge of the lost and found when I worked circ. Why my coworkers would never throw away things like half a tuna sandwich in a lunchbox or rinse out a baby bottle full of milk is beyond me, but it made digging through that box gross and stinky. My personal favorite was the photos though, I saved the most interesting ones that never got claimed and have a whole photo album dedicated to people I don't know. I was going to post them on my blog, but I got lazy or something.

    Also, when I worked in your system they had a circ staffer do the ILL's too, which I didn't get since info staff help them place the hold usually and they come to that desk to ask about it. People just like to pass the buck :/

  2. The Lost and Found bin is a petri dish, I recommend a full hazmat suit before reaching in to retrieve a patron's nasty crusty earphones that they left at a public PC.

    I think the more one can push their work onto others, the higher your pay grade will rise.
    I am going to try an experiment and outsource my workload.

  3. Oh, we constantly have bottles/sippy cups with milk left in them in our Lost & Found.

  4. Seriously, how hard is it to pour that ish out before it leaks all over the damn place!?