I’ve worked in a public library for about four years now and I’ve met more unique individuals than I would have ever imagined lived in our little town. There is a gentleman who comes in nearly every day, sometimes repeatedly in the same day. He walks up to my desk, sets a small bag down on the ground and begins a little speech. It varies a bit – usually involving respecting something or other and then listing two to four things about it, which he repeats. One day he was respecting the fact that Oklahoma is a coastal state. He always says “I’m not doing anything terroristic or treasonous, fingernails always trimmed and cleaned. While working – zero percent accidents. There’s never any foolishness or vandalism.” Sometimes he makes so much sense (usually spouting off facts from memory) and then other times he sound pretty nuts, but whatever is going on with him, this speech is an important ritual. He’s seems harmless, but at times it’s quite distracting to deal with him.
Others, have made me worry a bit. There was the man who was angry that the Devil seemed to be blocking his Yahoo email account. It was tough to keep from smiling while trying to work through his access problem(a forgotten password, I think), but he seemed to believe I was in league with the Devil at some point. There was another man who was frustrated and asked for help. He told me that his home computer was broken because he got mad and threw it out a window… and it landed on someone. There are frequently people talking to themselves, but this is becoming more acceptable as people use bluetooth headsets for their cell phones.
Well, my point is that the public element of a public library exposes a public librarian to a wide array of patrons… a somewhat larger statistical skewing toward those with some form of mental illness (though this is anecdotal). It has been quite a while since I took Psych 101 and I’m just thinking some refresher might be in order for the public librarian in an MLIS program.