How To Annoy Your Neighborhood Librarian In 10 Easy Steps!

Is your library experience too boring? Does the library staff look too happy when you enter the building? Do you normally come in and check out books and use the printer without help and think – “Man, I would love to cause more problems in this tranquil place and be a nuisance to everyone” but just don’t know how to be the worst library customer ever?

Well, I have the perfect list for you, compiled from over ten years of library experience with all sorts of customers. I can assure you that these are tried and absolutely true methods of making your friendly neighborhood librarian seethe from behind her professional demeanor and determination to provide excellent customer service.

1. Snap your fingers at the librarian or clear your throat loudly to get her attention.

First, you need to try and get the librarian’s attention. Most people would simply walk up to the desk or try to make eye contact with and/or wave down a roaming reference librarian. But no, you would not be likely to get the desired reaction you desire. Instead, start by snapping your fingers repeatedly at her like she’s some wayward puppy that you are trying to corral. Don’t say please or excuse me though; you wouldn’t want the librarian to think that you are being polite. If she does not hear you or is purposefully trying to ignore you, or is so shocked that you’d snap your fingers to summon her that she’s frozen in place, you can also use the meaningful throat clearing method. This is particularly effective if the librarian is helping another customer because then you annoy the librarian and the customer you rudely interrupted with your hacking. You can increase the volume if you are not assisted immediately until you sound like you are cat throwing up a hairball. The throat clearing method is best paired with rolling your eyes or emphatic hand gestures.

2. Damage library books and then refuse to pay for them because you “checked them out like that.”

The next step of how to annoy the library staff at your local branch is to check out the items and then treat them as badly as you can. Hand a graphic novel to your puppy and let him mangle it beyond recognition. Take a brand new Danielle Steel book into the bathtub with you during your self-care time and drop it in the bubble bath water, then let it marinate for two weeks until it’s good and moldy. Let your two year old take their library book into the bathroom with them and let them pee on that instead of your floors because he’s still learning how to control his bladder. But while most people would come in, head bowed in embarrassment and apologize profusely for accidental crimes against books, you are not one of these people. Oh no, you return that sucker right in the book drop and continue on as you also have to have to stop by the local fast food restaurant and have the kitchen staff remake your burger three times before you are satisfied so you don’t have time to take that book inside and confess. Naturally, the library has ways of discovering who returned the book last and quickly make contact with you to let you know you owe them $26 for that brand new book you ruined. However, if you want to really annoy the library staff, you have to march in two weeks later and act appalled when you see the book you mishandled.

“Oh no, I checked it out like that,” you insist to both the staff member and her supervisor. If you’re feeling particularly dramatic that day, you can yell and have an adult temper tantrum so that everyone within a mile radius can sense your displeasure. It doesn’t matter how ridiculous it is to think that the book was checked out smelling strongly of urine, you are going to argue with the staff until you are red in the face.

3. Smear poop on the walls of the public bathroom.

This step in annoying librarians involves getting a bit messier. But since you are committed to this campaign to drive the library staff bananas, you are totally up for the challenge, right? After the librarians have refused to waive your fines for damaged books, you are super mad. You want to make their lives more difficult. So you march into the bathroom near closing time when it’s pretty deserted. You spend some quality time with the porcelain toilet. You then decide that you are going to create a masterpiece on the bathroom walls. The tile is the canvas, your hands are the paint brush, and your poop is the paint. You smear the walls with all sorts of vile excrement and finish your horrific art work with a large smiley face. You wash your hands and leave the bathroom, smiling to yourself as you imagine the looks of shock and revulsion on the staff’s faces when they discover this the next morning.

4. Pay your large library fine in all pennies.

However, if you lack the commitment to annoy the librarians by defiling their public bathroom then perhaps you can stick it to them in another way by employing step four. You have tried every way you can imagine to get out of paying your $12 fines, but the staff is resolute in their determination to have you pay your dues. So then you return later, carrying the entire 12 dollars in pennies to the library in an old and raggedly looking plastic bag and dump it on the counter for the staff to count. The library staff will be so overcome with annoyance and frustration that they’ll take the 1200 pennies to the workroom and count them in there so that they can fully express their emotions without breaking their well-honed, calm façade. This is a guaranteed way to make any retail person who has to handle money secretly hate you.

5. Damage library property anonymously.

So, perhaps damaging books or movies that are tied to your account is not your jam. You prefer causing mayhem anonymously, without repercussions to your standing at the library. Instead, you can deface the library’s property without the staff realizing this has happened. You could write in the books or as one customer liked to repeatedly do, rip recipes out of the cookbooks because only considerate losers pay for copies. You decided that you wanted to make that cookie recipe, and it doesn’t matter that the book belongs to the library system or that other people might want to make those cookies too, you are going to take it for yourself and make that book unable to be circulated further. You could also practice your drawing in the library books as well. One particularly talented but thoughtless customer decided to practice their skills of drawing naked male bodies in a book that had absolutely nothing to do with drawing the human body. Others prefer simpler methods of destruction, like using the DVD as a coaster or drizzling caramel on the DVD. Anything that is hard to pinpoint on a particular customer is fair game and makes the librarians crazy because there is no justice for the poor, defenseless book, movie, or video game that was desecrated.

6. Use unusual and preferably disgusting bookmarks and leave them in the items you return.

If you do actually enjoy reading books but also want to leave the library staff fun, little surprises, you could employ this step and use unusual bookmarks and leave them in your library books for the library assistants to find. Rusty nails, toilet paper, and raw bacon slices have all been used as place markers. The more disgusting or confusing the item, the more likely you will cause great consternation and wide-eyed awe at the depths of the madness befalling library customers such as yourself.

7. Use the library book drop/automated materials handling system as a trash receptacle.

This step doesn’t even require a library card! All you need to do is have some trash you need to dispose of. While the library book drop looks nothing like a trash can and has a sign that tells you exactly what it is, you really don’t want to walk the two and a half feet to the trash can. Instead, you place your half-eaten salad, your empty container of peanut butter, or your lukewarm, plastic water bottle on the belt or in the book drop and let someone else deal with it. It doesn’t matter if it might damage library property it comes in contact with as long as you don’t have to deal with it anymore.

8. Talk to your friend or significant other loudly on your phone while inside the library.

Most people grew up being taught that libraries were a place of quiet, where you barely talked above a whisper for fear of the shushing. Well, librarians have eased up on the rules because most of them actually like having people in the building and want to help people. However, you have decided to take advantage of this. You don’t care that the tutors nearby are trying to instruct children on pre-algebra or that there is a sweet retired lady enthralled by the murder mystery she is reading in one of our comfy chairs. You have an IMPORTANT PHONE CALL you have to take right then and there. If you really want to ramp up the annoyance of not just the library staff but everyone in the entire building, put the person on speaker phone and have a long, angry conversation until one of the staff members has enough of it and asks you to take your phone call outside. You may yell at the staff for interrupting your phone call, but I promise you that three different people will come up after you and thank them for shutting you up. But at least you succeeding in annoying multiple people in one fell swoop.

9. Yell at the library staff for following policies that they have no control of changing.

Libraries have policies and procedures. Some of them may be inconvenient, but they do have reasons and people before you have screwed things up and made it so the library had to protect itself by enacting these rules in order to keep people’s information private, its property safe, and its services fair for everyone. However, this does not matter to you. You are a very important person, and you knew somebody who worked at a library and therefore, these rules can be bent for you. Or perhaps you just think they are stupid because you won’t let the library staff member explain to you why things are done the way they are. Either way, you are angry about a policy but rather than talk to someone who has some authority to make changes to the policy, you decide to berate the person at the accounts desk who does not get paid enough to get screamed out for something completely out of their control. You watch them try to deescalate the conversation, but you haven’t said your piece and threaten to never use the library again, which doesn’t work as well in a public institution as most libraries are funded by your taxes whether you like it or not.

10. Come in at the last minute and refuse to leave once the building is closed.

The hours are posted outside, and the library staff are announcing them over the intercom periodically the last hour they are open. However, you sprint in at eleven minutes before closing and rush over to a computer. You angrily bang on the keyboard as you type your information in, talking loudly about how important this document you are going to print is. You refuse to follow the prompts on the screen and therefore, your document is not sent to the printer. The computer shuts down as programmed at ten minutes before closing, causing you to lose all your work. The staff feels some sympathy for your plight, but there’s not much they can do and your yelling certainly doesn’t help win them to your cause. Or perhaps you waltz in three minutes before the doors lock and head over to the DVDs. Three different staff members let you know that the library will close soon, but you are in no hurry. You want some DVDs for your weekend binge watching, and you will finish in your own time, thank you very much. The library staff try hard to contain their annoyance, but some of them have been there dealing with difficult customers for nearly 8 hours and are worn out by now. Finally, it’s closing time but you are still inside, and the supervisor ushers you to one of the checkout stations. But of course, you have library fines and you argue with the staff about whether or not you should have to pay those fines or if you even checked out those items in the first place. They finally oust you in the nicest way they possibly can fifteen minutes after the doors should have been closed, and you have successfully angered an entire library staff team on your own. Congratulations.

Please let me know how this list worked out for you and let me know your own suggestions or experiences for library antics. Also, I cannot held responsible for any interruptions in library service due to following my advice or the advice listed in the comments.

Thank you.

P.S. In case you think that I hate my job (or people in general) from reading this, you’d be absolutely wrong. Any customer service position is going to have people that make you crazy and it is incredibly therapeutic for me to write about some of this craziness on here. However, I happen to work for an amazing library with some pretty cool co-workers and thankfully, for every one annoying person I have to deal with, there are at least seven good customers, two babies, and a sweet grandmother who calls me sweetie. It’s crazy, it’s amazing, it’s never boring, and I’ll probably never work in any other profession.

4 thoughts on “How To Annoy Your Neighborhood Librarian In 10 Easy Steps!

  1. All excellent advice for annoying librarians, and people in general.

    But…pleeease tell me some of these have never happened!? Poo on walls and bacon bookmarks? Plus all the rudeness. It sounds pretty awful!

    1. Unfortunately, I have not made up anything in here. I’d say 95% is from personal experience and 5% is from reliable sources (i.e. friends who have worked in libraries). My friend Ryan was the one who told me about the raw bacon bookmark he found in a returned library book, and I’ve heard others say that’s happened to them too. The worst bookmark I’ve gotten was the rusty nail; the only food items I’ve gotten has been wrappers to muffins or plastic bags that had food in them at some point. As for the poop in the bathroom, that exact incident happened at the last library I worked at. It actually happened twice, though the smiley face drawn on the walls happened the second time around. Our poor cleaning lady had to take care of that, and she was not pleased. The grossest thing I’ve had to clean up in the library bathroom was an unwrapped, bloody pad, and I was incredibly thankful for latex gloves. I have learned to never underestimate just how rude and gross the public can be. 😛

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