or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Library Volunteers Need To Be More Detailed-Oriented Than This

   December 11th, 2013

There are two elements to this story I need to establish up front:

  1. We have a PDF teen volunteer application on our website, which interested kids can download, print, and then bring in or mail to the library to apply
  2. As I've mentioned before, people in Chelmsford, UK, occasionally contact us by mistake, thinking we're the library in England

So, the crux of this story is that these two elements collided recently. A teen, apparently in the Chelmsford in England, wanted to volunteer at the library, but downloaded our volunteer application by mistake. The teen dutifully filled it out, and mailed the envelope to the address on the application - which arrived to us like this:


Judging by the postmark (with the European date style being YYYY-MM-DD), it took over a month to reach us - and seems to have bounced around quite a bit in England first.

But since the Royal Mail apparently (repeatedly?) tried to deliver this letter to somewhere in England, I suppose the teen can't be entirely blamed for mistaking the address as local. However, I am impressed that the Royal Mail (and the USPS) ultimately did deliver the letter to the right place - despite the insufficient postage:


It appears that a 2nd Class Stamp costs 50p, which is about $0.82. Not bad for trans-oceanic delivery.

However, when the letter arrived, our Teen Librarian emailed the applicant to let him know of his mistake. Too bad, but I hope he's able to get in touch with the other Chelmsford Library - just not to volunteer with any geography-related projects.

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