Thursday, June 26, 2014

Do you have any books on burying your own dead?

It couldn't have been more than a month after I started working here, at my very first library job, when I received what is to date the strangest request of my library career.

When the man called, he asked for me specifically.  This was a little strange, because I hadn't been there long enough to make that sort of connection with any patrons.  But he had decided he wanted to talk to the director, and found out my name, and here we were.

"Uh, yes, I'm looking for books about, you know, burying your own dead."

Yeah, so this freaked me out.  I'm picturing him out in his backyard with a shovel, you know?  But I am the director of the library, and I hold an advanced degree, and I am a professional, and I had to play it cool.  So I told him I'd do a little research and call him back.

It turns out this is a thing:  Green Burials.  The website even has a recommended reading list, and two of the books on that list were available through DOLCat.  I was able to call the man back, tell him the titles I could get, and also give him the link to the website so he could check it out.

I guess the thing to keep in mind is, what people read is extremely personal.  There's a reason librarians are obsessed with privacy, and this guy is the embodiment of that reason.  Since then, I've ILLed books that I was embarrassed about wanting - I've even borrowed books that I've picked up at other libraries rather than having mailed to us, because I didn't want my coworkers seeing what I'm reading.  But lately I've gotten more okay with it.  Our job is not to judge.  Our job is to provide people with the information they need.

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