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

A Library By Any Other Name

   March 4th, 2015

baby change station signThis is not at all important or relevant, but it amused me.

I heard that a patron had complained about our book donation situation* on Facebook, and when I had a few spare minutes one day, I thought I'd do a quick search to see if I could find it. The problem was that I had no idea who said it, where it was posted, or what keywords to search for.

So, more out of idle optimism than anything else, I did a Google search for chelmsford library donate facebook, and much to my surprise, one of the results was:

nappy library search results

Since I'm looking for a patron complaint, I'm already in a negative mindset, and "nappy" struck me with the negative connotation that word can carry.

So, immediately I was like, holy smokes, someone not only complained about us, but even set up a Facebook hate page because we're a real nappy library. Wow.

But of course, reading the description or clicking through the link (which I did before reading) makes it clear that not everything in the world revolves around the Chelmsford Library in which I work. In fact, this Facebook page was about a diaper exchange program in Chelmsford, England - in which land the phrase "real nappy" has an entirely different meaning.

I don't have kids, but this seems like another example of a great non-traditional collection for libraries. I would not want to deal with dirty diapers, but it's one of those temporary-need items that might make for good community sharing.

And speaking of cloth diapers, a friend of mine once had a very similar idea, except that it would be a cloth diaper pickup and delivery service based out of a truck with a mobile washing station. Pretty good idea (again, except for the dirty diaper part), except that instead of just a non-traditional library collection, it would be a non-traditional bookmobile.


*We temporarily have nowhere to store donated books, so we're asking patrons to hold donations until the Spring. The problem was that this message wasn't communicated very well to the patron.

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4 Responses to “A Library By Any Other Name”

  1. Heather Says:

    There used to be diaper services, back when more people used cloth diapers. My mom used one when I was in diapers.

  2. Katie Says:

    There are plenty of diaper washing and rental services still around! Due largely, I suppose, to the growing “green parenting” thing.

  3. Sunny Says:

    Oh no! How was it communicated poorly? I am a Publicity Librarian at a library that is moving and we are not taking donations and this is something I want to avoid!

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Heather & Katie: that’s good to hear – I like knowing services like this exist, even if I don’t use them.

    @Sunny: What we’re doing is if patrons call in, we ask them to hold their donations until we’re able to handle them again in the Spring. If they say they can’t, then we give them other places that accept book donations. However, if a patron is already in the library with their donation, we will accept them – because it’s just rude to tell someone no, carry those right back out to your car. Which is apparently what happened – a staff person didn’t realize it was okay to say yes if a patron already brought them to a service desk, and the patron was understandably upset. So, whatever your policy is, be sure everyone on staff is clear about it.