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Lee, up-and-coming librarian

what's wrong with morbidity?
there's a great essay in "sex, drugs, and cocoa puffs" by chuck klosterman about having a morbid interest in serial killers that's really fascinating.
and the third girl?
she's trying to do research, which is anxiety-provoking in and of itself, and not finding what she needs.
add to that she's obviously trying to do research to help relieve her anxiety on a day-to-day basis, i'd say that encounter was a positive one.
the "venus and mars" guy might have a girlfriend; some of us _like_ the unusual.
and, for your closer, sounds like a slightly over-dramatic goth kid, but so?
they can be much more annoying than that, believe me.
once again: what's wrong with having a slightly morbid outlook?
most of the best poetry of the twentieth century (at least, from my perspective) has at least a morbid cast to it.

try to keep a little bit more of an open mind.

Mo

Thanks, FGL, for being someone who does think about the person who's reading the book instead of seeing only the request. Like Lee says, maybe it's totally benign. But what if not? Sometimes I think we're suffering from an epidemic of none-of-my-business.

That being said, the one about the kid looking for *dramatic pause* DEATH!! cracked me the heck up. Not to belittle his interest or your concern, he just so obviously expected an "eek!" reaction instead of the very accepting and businesslike one he got.

Reminds me of the time I was shadowing at the reference desk and got a kid asking for the Satanic Bible. With my then-current Information Ethics class high in my mind, I handed it over and spent the next ten minutes wondering if I'd been right. Then he brought it back, weak with laughter because the author was such an absurd poseur and it was so clearly a crock of hooey. The power of information, y'all.

lcarabello

hmmm...from the other comments here, it sounds that some aren't finding the pathos in the story of your patrons. however, i am torn each day by people who come into my library who are obviously lonely, confused, homeless, or angry. one thing i didn't realize before taking the job as a public librarian is that some patrons can break your heart. and since we're not psychologists or counselors, some us leave each day wondering if certain patrons we've assisted will be OK for the night. i hear you. sensitive librarians seem to either become jaded fast, mocking the patrons who are obviously socially troubled, or learn to pray. thanks for sharing that at least, you care about the people you serve who may be down and out.

Jenett

I spent about 18 months volunteering on the LiveJournal Abuse Team (people who help handle problems and violations of the Terms of Service on the site).

A large part of that was investigating complaints and researching what was going on in a situation, and whether there was an actual problem we could act on. In the process, I ended up reading a lot of journals from a lot of people I'd never have done otherwise.

The last one you talk about ... we got suicide threat reports periodically. Sometimes, the Abuse folks have saved a life (if there's enough identifying information to contact the police.) Sometimes, we never knew what happened.

We know in at least a couple of cases that people faked threats to get attention, or cause drama, or make a big exit (while not actually having any intention of committing suicide: just talking as if they were or had.)

I'm not cynical, exactly, but I've learned to do this odd split in my brain. Part of me cares very deeply that the person gets wha they need. And part of me just gets on with handling the practical details: because at a certain point, if you get too wrapped up in the caring, you stop being effective at doing what you're supposed to be doing (whether that's handling complaints or providing information.)

What I ended up focusing on, when I was doing it was doing the best job I could to provide what help I could (as limited by policy, available information, and time), and then disconnecting with that request and moving on.

(My job in a high school raises rather fewer of these questions, because there's a lot of support network stuff, so if I do have concerns, I can go talk to people whose job is to follow up on that kind of thing, and feel reassured that will happen.)

Peggy

How very interesting this all is! I was actually on here looking for funeral readings and Altavista gave me this site because you mentioned them. I am a hospice chaplain and hoped to find something different to say from what I use all the time. As food for thought, consider this: the only ways we can "envison" or imagine truly joining with another/others are sexually or at death. Both of those subjects seem to have major taboos associated with them. On a very basic level, we all WANT that closeness, the oneness that instinct says is possible but which seems to be denied to so many for one reason or another. The patrons who came to the library appear to be good examples.

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