Ceiling Cats! Alien Abductions! The Weird Things People Tell Librarians

Roz Warren


Last week a patron at the suburban library where I work spent five minutes telling a co-worker all about why (and exactly how) she should use a water pic. This inspired me to ask a group of my fellow librarians, “What’s the oddest thing a library patron has ever said to you?”

Here’s a sampling of their responses:

A woman tried to get me to name her baby.

I’ve been asked how to make LSD.

A man asked me if my biological clock was ticking.

I had a lady ask where she could find a chastity belt.

While I was checking out his books, one gent told me all about how humans could slowly build up to deriving all of their necessary nutrients by going outside and starring at the sun. I suggested that he try it.

“You know what would make you a knockout? Lose weight!”

“You don’t look like a librarian. You should be wearing a shirtwaist dress. With horizontal stripes.”

Direct quote from one patron: “My man shaved DOWN THERE… and I didn’t like it one bit. I like a natural man.” What?? (I work in an elementary school library.)

A patron once accused me of running a slave ring from the express computers.

A woman once asked if I had any hand-me-down clothes I could give her daughter, since we were both “big girls.”

One man, in a misguided attempt to flirt with me, asked me where we keep our R-rated books. With a straight face, I told him we keep them on the third floor. (It‘s a two-story building.)

“I have in my possession an object from outer space.”

A patron once told me there was a cat in the ceiling. (And she was right!)

I can’t polish my nails at work anymore because one of our patrons told me that was a turn-on.

A patron once told me in a stage whisper about her alien abduction, complete with biological details I’d really rather not have heard.

One patron demanded that my boss fire me for putting a hex on her.

A patron who was grateful for the help I’d given her with a reference question advised me to keep my kitchen knives in the laundry hamper. “So if someone breaks into your house, they can’t use them to stab you.”

Recent unsolicited advice from a patron? “If your yard isn’t clean, the mourning doves won’t come.”

A patron told a co-worker about how he’d prayed for a wife and just asked that God send him one that had not been “used.“

“I just had surgery! Want to see my scar?”

Because library workers are courteous by nature, we can be counted on to respond to your oddball remarks with dignity and grace. My co-worker, for example, patiently endured that little water pic lecture rather shutting it down with, “What makes you think my teeth are any of your business?”

Still, the next time you’re tempted to share your own innermost thoughts with your local librarian? Do us a favor and think twice.

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Roz Warren, the author of JUST ANOTHER DAY AT YOUR LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY, has appeared on both the Today Show and Morning Edition, writes for everyone from the Funny Times to the New York Times, and has been included in 13 Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. Drop her a line at roSwarren@gmail.com.

Bala Cynwyd, PA

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