We’re always trying to make the public feel at home in the library. But some people take that idea a little too literally. Whether it’s peeing in a corner or napping with their false teeth out, there are always a few patrons who are less bibliophiles and more biblio-biles. (Check out the bizarre things librarians have found in returned books.)
Rated R “reading”
Rawpixel.com/ShutterstockLet’s not even talk about the occasional couple in the stacks who don’t need a book—they need a room. How about the many, many seemingly normal men who use the public computers to check out their favorite porn? How do people functional enough to navigate the internet at all not realize that everyone can see Bambi Boom-Boom in her birthday suit on their monitor from across the room? It’s a mystery!
Lots of peeing
BENCHAMAT/ShutterstockOther bodily functions also make their appearance way too frequently—and more publicly—in the library. There was a big altercation because one patron got mad at another for burping too much. There are the people who want to clip their toenails or wash their hair in the public bathrooms. But a lot of it involves peeing. This year one library in New Mexico accused two patrons of urinating on three copies of the Koran, presumably as a deliberate act of desecration. But most of the incidents reported seem more random than religious or political. I myself once found a cup of crusted-over urine hiding behind some volumes in the reference area of my library. And Maplewood, NJ, closed its library temporarily 10 years ago when high school kids started relieving themselves in the corners. Also, read about the weirdest things people have ever tried to return to stores.
Vaping, fighting, fires
koliw/ShutterstockAs you might expect, teens do their fair share of acting up and acting out in libraries. Usually, it’s vaping pot in the bathrooms, cuddling and playful scuffling that gets out of hand, or even actual fistfights that start simmering in school and explode at the end of the day. One patron even reported a teen setting fire to a magazine in a library. But my favorite story from the Teen Zone involves a bunch of kids playing “Truth or Dare” one afternoon. We ignored them until all of a sudden one of them was standing on top of a table singing “I Gotta Be Me.” And no, it didn’t matter that he was the star of the latest high school musical.
Senior antics and just plain weirdos
Minerva-Studio/ShutterstockBut believe me, older people can be just as disruptive, if not more so. They take off their shoes. They want to make long distance calls to their senators on the library phone. They hold highly confidential legal or accounting meetings in completely not soundproof “quiet rooms.” Once we had to stop a full-fledged therapy session from taking place! With all the money therapists charge, you’d think they could pay for a real room. One elderly patron in a library where I worked would regularly take out her false teeth and place them in full sight of the public before settling down for a snooze. Another “frequent flyer” once smuggled a wounded bird into the building, hid in a corner area with the bird inside her coat to protect it, and wasn’t discovered till closing time.
“But you work in a library! Isn’t it great to work in a place that’s so quiet and you get to read all day?”
If only they knew.
Next, read about the craziest things ever found during home inspections.