Why do people like confessing to librarians?
It’s no secret that I’m a librarian, but sometimes when I’m sitting at the desk (or “the perch,” as I like to call it) I feel people mistake me for a priest or a bartender. Although I don’t offer blessings and I don’t pass out drinks, people keep coming to confess things to me. Sometimes they even do it on a regular basis.
There are always those people who feel guilty over returning items past their due dates. It’s not enough for them to tell me simply that their library materials are late; they have to give me the whole shebang providing reasons for their tardiness. Thus I get treated to long-winded stories of how their cat has urinary problems, parent-teacher conferences gone wild, and car troubles of the oily kind. Once in a while the stories can be rather entertaining, but more often I think to myself, “Do I really need to hear all of this?” Many times I get these stories even when people have no items to return or check out.
Is it because librarians are friendly professionals with welcoming smiles that make people want to bare their souls to us? Is it because people who can’t or don’t want to pay a therapist think that librarians make good cost-free substitutes? Or is it because people know librarians are stuck to their desks and have to listen to them no matter what? Occasionally, I feel it’s because of all these things.
Should this situation continue, I may just have to hide some holy water and a bottle of Jack Daniels in one of my desk drawers in the case of a dire emergency. If not for my patrons, then possibly for myself. I sometimes wonder why can’t people treat librarians as librarians and not as their confessors?