Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Life in the pit

A few years ago, I took a look at our library layout and proposed to my fellow librarians that we were sending the wrong message. When you entered the library, you came through a gate and passed several librarians working behind the circ counter. The library itself stretched out and back a long, long way. It's a huge room. Two service desks were on the side in the front and in the back. The middle was filled with tables, reference books, etc. "Let's set ourselves up in the center of the room!" I proposed. And the pit was born. Three desks are set up in a horseshoe in the center of the room. Librarians are present and visible at all times. The message is: Ask for help. Talk to a librarian. We are not afraid of you and you should not be afraid to talk to us.

It worked...too well. In addition to many meaningful connections, we have become the food police. There is no way to sneak food into the library. It's all out there for us to see. Now I'm not talking about the occasional granola bar or coffee. Egg McMuffins, sub sandwiches, birthday cakes (not slices...sheet cakes), macaroni and cheese, pizzas (2 or 3 at a time), a beverage that looks suspiciously like vodka and Tang, bags of bagles, tubs of cream cheese, cookies, candy (one little girl has a nice little business selling the candy out of a Ziplock bag...we suspect she makes more money a day than we do), and half a ton of chips a day. We have tried everything to curtail the food party.

Now we're trying emotionally intelligent signs. The first one went up before vacation and reads: The librarians thank you for not eating. The mice don't." We're hoping that connecting food with our persistent rodent population may work. In the meantime, about half our day is spent hopping up to send the the poor starving students to the cafeteria (a mere 20 steps away). I wonder whether we have become too friendly??? Aside from being really severe, which doesn't work for us at our school, have you had any success in keeping the food down to a managable level? Let me'll find me in the pit.

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