Please, thank you, and mine!
Ever worked a customer service desk? Then you're familiar with the Conflicted or I Hate to Bother You, But... Complaint. This nice library patron was even conflicted about the reason.
With hands apart, palms up (the universal "this is probably futile" signal), she reported that a clearly audible cell phone chat from two rows back had jolted her out of fiction-browsing mode.
Mind you, this was on second floor, AKA The Quiet Floor. As if being reluctantly cast in the role of tattletale weren't enough, the customer couldn't decide which seemed more unfair: the interruption or the extreme non-urgency of the conversation.
The disturbance, we agreed, was unfortunate--also unintentional. Those tall shelving units look awfully substantial, perhaps capable of preventing sound transmission. But not even in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section do collected volumes assume Sonic Deflection Shield capability.
If such issues don't resolve themselves quickly (which happened even as we discussed this one), a gentle reminder does the trick. It's easy to forget that cell phoning isn't appropriate everywhere.
Our customers tend to be demonstrably polite, evidenced by responses to our Summer Readers' Bonanza. We offer several "pop-up prizes" each week at the reference desk. At random intervals and without fanfare, the "It's a Pop-up Prize!" sign appears on the reference desk with a book or bag from Book Expo America.
Whoever spots the prize first may take it. (Think of the King Arthur legend: you're Arthur and the prize is Excalibur. Go for it.)
We've been surprised to see library customers look right past the sign and charmed to witness folks who see it but can't bring themselves to take the prize. Some customers track back and forth a time or two. They might stop, gingerly touch the item, then replace it, needing the assurance of a staffer's smile, nod, or thumbs-up before claiming it.
Also, there's this: Unlike the King Arthur story, our prizes aren't pre-ordained for accessibility only to the perfect match.
Some pop-ups ultimately claimed by ecstatic winners were first caught and released by well-mannered readers rightly viewing them as Not My Type. The man who spied Sylvia Day's Entwined With You briefly surveyed the contents, commenting, "some woman will be thrilled to have this; I'll leave it for her." What a gentleman. And he was correct.
To demonstrate that I, too, was raised right, I brought back my advance copy of Charles Belfoure's The Paris Architect (mentioned last week, now finished) for pop-up sharing. Unlike the other pristine giveaways, it's had one reader but is a terrific find for grown-up readers of both genders.
Some upcoming pop-ups might be deemed "chick books", but we'll also offer DK's The Conquest of the Ocean, Filip Bondy's Who's on Worst: The Lousiest Players, Biggest Cheaters, Saddest Goats and Other Antiheroes in Baseball History; Don J. Snyder's Walking with Jack: A Father's Journey to Become His Son's Caddie; Robert Boswell's Tumbledown; James R. Hannibal's Shadow Catcher; and Michael Paterniti's The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese.
And it would be downright rude not to mention this "Books for Dudes" list from Library Journal Online.