Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

in #library2 months ago (edited)


I juggle lots of tasks at my little library, and while COVID-19 restrictions minimize the number of people at the front desk, there are still lots of odd jobs that require attention.

One of our biggest hurdles relates to patron computer use. Many senior citizens rely on our internet for personal business, and the lockdowns mean more and more of the least tech-savvy population find themselves wrestling with government websites at the library. We don't handle personal information by policy, but these elderly folks often expect us to be their secretaries, too.

We also have people who want us to magically retrieve and print files from their phones. One lady in particular was adamant that I needed to help her get an image with postage info from an app so she could mail a package, but she wouldn't let me help her in a systematic way, and at least once undid the progress I had made in finding her file by unplugging her phone from the PC. Queue another round of file indexing before it let me continue again. And of course this happens as we are closing and the post office is closing. She is anxious and uptight about her deadline, but I had to keep reminding myself, "not my circus, not my monkeys," and keep calm while I continued helping her.

Librarians are miracle workers sometimes, but we can't overcome natural laws or technological realities. Don't add to our existing stress by demanding the impossible, please.

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Perfect phrase that I identify with 100%. I try to live my life that way, but it is easier for me since I am not in the public all the time.