“I’m….an Artist.” Adventures in Librarianship

I had an interesting interaction in my part-time role as a Reference Librarian in a public library from a bit back that I thought might be fun to share on this near-end-of-summer Thursday.

(Scene opens)

Nearly 8:10pm. We close at 8:30. Tall, thinnish, mid-30’s-40’s white guy in a clean orange polo asks for scrap paper and pencil. He sits at the patron desk right next to my work desk. A few minutes pass as I finish up deleting some old books.

Guy: Excuse me. Do you do art?

Me: ….ANYTHING artistic or did I study it? Are you looking for BOOKS on art? Inspiration of some kind?….

Guy: No. I meant study art. See…. *dramatic pause, looks up at me from under his eyelashes with a smug look of self importance* I’m an Artist.

Me: Okay.

Guy: …So. I made this….carving.

Me: (Dude I am SOOO not interesting in your carvings…but please DO go on). Okay.

Guy: A BEAR carving.

…..

Me: Out of wood or…

Guy: Yes.

Me: Okaaaay. (Where in the heck is the question here???)

Guy: Yeah. I carved this bear. And, see, I’m a bit disappointed in myself for doing it.

Me: …..

Guy: I mean it’s a NICE bear. Looks like any OTHER carved wooden bear you might see by someone who *gets an additional gleam of self-love in his eye* carved a bear with a SAW.

Me: Mh hmmmm, sure, of course…. (Holy FUCK where is this guy GOING with this?!?!)

Guy: So. It’s a good bear. Even burned it so it’s black. You know, a Black Bear?

Me: ……mmm hmmm

Guy: But I feel like it’s missing something…

Me: (OOH! He needs ideas! I can HELP get him books on that.  Reference Librarian Powers: ACTIVATE!) Oh, so you need to figure out how to fin…

Guy: (all interupt-y) No. I don’t need to figure it out. That’s what I was drawing. See. When I was sawing…. carving. I cut a little too deep into the bear’s belly. So, just under his arms there’s this deeper slice. And I was thinking. See…

*gets up to walk the few inches to my desk to show me his “artistic doodle” of a “bear” with a fucking KNIFE in it’s gut.

Me: ….

Guy: I was thinking I could put a KNIFE in that slice, ya know? Something like that. Is that creepy?

Me: You mean this conversation?

Guy: The knife thing.

Me: Oh! (Crap, that was out loud?) Well, no. Have you ever been to the George Pompideou?

Guy: ….?

Me: Modern art museums? Avant-guarde stuff? Yeah, no. It’s certainly a bit macabre but it isn’t creepy or really that unusual. A conversation starter for sure. (Dear god I’m NEVER gonna get outta here on time. )

Guy: But do you think it would be GOOD?

Me: Do you mean….would it be more MARKETABLE? Or more Artistic? I can’t really speak to either personally….

Guy: Cause it’s a good bear.

Me: *shuffling papers desperately as the clock clicks ever closer to closing time* Right….

Guy: So what kind of knife do you think? A kitchen knife?

Me: (!!!?? What. The. Fucking. FUCK?) Uh….a ginsu? Then you could put a sharpener in the slot and call it a knife sharpener.

Guy: Oh I could put like a credit-card sharpener in it. You know, like from those late-night shows? Where they chop a tomato and a credit card?

Me: (oh. my. god. Just fucking agree with everything. Maybe he’ll go away.) Mmm hmm. Yeah. Sounds good. It would sure be artistic.

Guy: Yeah. Hey thanks for the paper and pencil. I just…wanted to draw that idea out. Here’s the extra. And your pencils back. See: this is the bear. Yeah.

Me: (another night at the public library. Exit, stage left. And SCENE)

What I learned from this adventure?

When a guy starts his question with “So, do you do art”? Your answer should be “No. No, I do not” lest you be dragged into a baffling 10 minutes of hearing an “Artist” describe how he carved a bear. With a saw. And wants to put a KNIFE into the mistake he made in it….so it will be creepy. Or something. Yeah.

It was quite an interesting moment in life and really a great reminder of the vast variety of personalities one can encounter in the public library (and the world in general).  Any fun encounters you’ve had lately?

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9 thoughts on ““I’m….an Artist.” Adventures in Librarianship

    • ^.^ Glad it was enjoyable to read about! It was more awkward than concerning for me even at the time though I’ve had my share of worrisome as well! All part of the public gig :)

  1. LOL. Loved it! I’m a librarian, and it’s amazing how many times we are used as sounding boards/griping boards/absorbers of general nuttiness. Libraries ain’t just for books and information anymore, if they ever were.

  2. There’s a strange guy who came to our library and pulled a rhinestone brooch out of his pocket, put it on the reference desk, and asked me to tell him how much it was worth. I directed him to the nearest used clothing shop.

  3. OMFG!!! I literally “stumbled” across your blog while looking for crochet patterns… I freaking Love it! The whole thing… and this post made me damn near tinkle in my office chair…. AARGH!!! though…. I don’t see a way to contact you other than leaving a comment… I wanna ask you a question (sorry about the over abundance of ellipses but I just love ‘em)

    • My apologies for the delay! As you can see from the dearth of posts lately life has me wrapped up in other arenas right now but I will try to keep an eye on posts here more diligently in the case you DO come back with a question :)

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