The library feels like a warm, welcoming place where you go to be gently shushed and read in a place that smells like mildew. But behind the scenes, librarians are just as annoyed by customers as any other retailer. Perhaps more.
Twitter user @metafrantic tweeted a photo from a library of a display of red books with a banner that pokes fun at people's habit of asking a librarian to help them find a book based on its color.
This is apparently a common library troll, as someone else shared a photo of a wall of blue books. "Lolz my library did this too. I took a photo because we used to get this question all the time when I worked at a bookstore,"they wrote.
Apparently, the phenomenon is so widely known, there are even comic strips about it.
But some librarians are impressing the internet with over-the-top identifying skills. "My proudest moment was working in an episcopal library of 200,000 books, someone asked for 'that book about bishops with a yellow cover' and I got it straight away *even though it was purple*," one person shared.
Another even added a funny anecdote: "YEARS ago at Waldenbooks I relabeled the New Age shelf "Blue and White Books About Light." It took a few weeks but one day while at the register I heard it, from way in the back of the store: my manager giggling uncontrollably."
My proudest moment was working in an episcopal library of 200,000 books, someone asked for 'that book about bishops with a yellow cover' and I got it straight away *even though it was purple*— Anna James (@superteadrinker) February 5, 2018
YEARS ago at Waldenbooks I relabeled the New Age shelf "Blue and White Books About Light." It took a few weeks but one day while at the register I heard it, from way in the back of the store: my manager giggling uncontrollably.— Helen IxnayCrabwinkle Carter (@IxnayCrabwinkle) February 5, 2018
Other librarians and book store folk chimed in to say what bugs THEM about all the people coming in for help:
What drives me crazy is: "You had this book on display last week. I don't remember the title"— Shelley the Librarian (@cardcataloggirl) February 4, 2018
Customer: Do you have that book that was just on the radio?— Karin Robinson (@karinjr) February 5, 2018
Young Me (bookstore manager): Can you tell me any more? Fiction or non? What was it about.
Customer: It was about a man and a woman? And they meet? And it's kind of a love story? I think it's non fiction but not sure
Young Me: OK, what radio station was it?— Karin Robinson (@karinjr) February 5, 2018
Customer: It's a really popular show. You really be aware of what books they're talking about on the radio.
YM: (Imagines spending all her hours frantically scanning all media in case of book talk.) OK. Sorry to let you down.
See sometimes the spine and the cover don’t match. They should match or else it confuses people like me.— Janelle Wiley (@janwly) February 5, 2018
It's true, and of course as librarians we will do everything we can to help patrons find what they need with whatever info they can offer.— Blue Reflective Surface (@Metafrantic) February 5, 2018
At least one person thought that color coding kinda made some sort of sense...
But most are like, "Nah."
I love that so many responses to this are people asking their friends who work in libraries/bookstores "did this ever happen to you?" (The answer is always yes.)— Blue Reflective Surface (@Metafrantic) February 4, 2018
Or, saying to those friends "you should totally make a display like this!" 🤣
Customer: "It's this big," *indicates with hand gestures* "and it's red."— Leilah Skelton (@Leilah_Makes) February 5, 2018
Me (Bookseller): "It's 'The Dangerous Book for Boys'."
Customer (unaware that I'd sold 15 copies that morning as it was the book du jour): "YOU'RE A WIZARD!"
Me: "A BOOK WIZARD!" 😂
I'm working towards my MLS and now I'm dreading the day someone describes a book like this. I will quit my job and go live on a mountain, tending sheep.— Once Upon a Time, I Read a Book (@OUATIReadABook) February 5, 2018
But like 60% of the time, they had the color wrong.— Christine Whitlock (@StineWhitlock) February 5, 2018
Not unlike working in a record store (millennials: these were places that sold music recorded onto compact discs that you would play individually). “What’s that song on the radio that goes hmmm hmmm do do do whaa whaa”— Lady Glitter Sparkles (@ldyglttrsprkls) February 5, 2018
“It was blue and I saw it on Oprah.”— Lawrence Wilson (@wilsonlawrence7) February 4, 2018
She's Come Undone, obvi.— Fred Slusher, Aspirant Resolutions Keeper (@fws2896) February 5, 2018
Celestine Prophecy (though it's more teal); I sold sooo many of those based on that, blue/Oprah description.— Wendy COOK ALL THE THINGS Whipple (@cameragrrl) February 5, 2018
well my favourite game, guessing which book the customer want.— Weltbeobachterin (@Weltbeob8erin) February 5, 2018
But my favorite is this comment that indicates not only do people ask for books by color, but they mostly seem to ask for red.
Worked in a bookstore, for five years. Red was our top color-question too!— Kim Douglas (@pagooey) February 5, 2018
Do they think that makes the book more attractive?