Hope on Hold

by Banned Library in

Placing a hold on a book is a scary endeavour. You don't know when the book is going to show up. It's mostly based on hope. Hope in the system, hope in the library staff, and hope that nobody decides to eat the book. That much hope can only lead to ulcers and visiting your parents on non-holidays.

    I placed a book on hold recently. I am a librarian. I know where the other libraries are; I could have traveled. I have a car because I am an adult librarian, not one of those children's librarians with their little battery operated cars.

    Those little cars are the worst, right? Little things with plastic wheels. Talk about hope. You give your child a little plastic car that can travel just as fast as a slug on cocaine. The child sees the road with all the adult cars and before you can blink twice and drink your coffee little Jimmy is out there, getting tickets for not being in the slow lane. People honking outside your house, telling him to "get a real car, you little child." People are cruel.

   Anyway, as an adult librarian I placed a hold on a book because I am lazy. I like the system to work for me. So many times the systems of the world don't work for you. They work for stupid things like culture and gravity.

    The book took a week to reach me from across town. That's not that long, you say. And it's not. Except the book was not checked out and it had been just sitting on the shelf. But the library staff over there could have been busy. They could have had programs to do, people to serve. Or they could have been just as lazy as me.

    I decided to give them a call. The conversation that I'm making up went a little like this:

    "Lazy library branch, how may I help you?" came the voice with faux perk.

    "Yeah, what you up to?" I said. The conversation goes librarian, me, librarian, me, and so on from here:

    "Nuttin. Just chill, bro. How's it at the main vein?"

    "Like a villain. You assholes not getting holds?"

    "The fuck? Yeah we get holds. Eventually."

    "Well, maybe get them when they come in or whatever or I'll schedule some database training and switch your Folgers for the decaffeinated shit."

    "Motherfucker, I will wreck your shit."

    "Don't play games, Rudolf. You won't like being chosen on a snowy night."

    "What does that even mean?"

    "It means I'll light your library on fire and make you work at the River Branch until the smoke clears."

    "But River Branch smells like fish!"

    "Better than burnt library, ass waffle. Get them holds on time."


    So we hung up. That's how librarians talk, by the way. In library school they teach us that. We can't talk all the jargon in front of patrons, though, because y'all won't know what you're talking about.

    So that's what hope looks like. Sometimes you have to pick up the phone and ask for hope. Just be nice about it.