…which I encountered during my part time job.
Since 2014, I have been working part-time in my university’s library. There I sit in the information desk near the entrance and my main duty is to answer questions, lend inventories as well as making sure people can come in and out through the gate smoothly without bringing food with them.
First thing first: The gate that can be seen above.
So this gate is ‘special’ as in super moody but it really required no skill just patience to go through it. The mechanism is simple, make sure to stand behind the censor, tap your id card to the identifier, wait a second or half then walk in smoothly. There is an instruction on the identifier and if something blocked the censor, it will lit up red light and make a long beep sound. Super clear and easy, however, amazingly this gate always probe problems. More than many people failed to come inside and it is not rare to hear loud crash sound when people tried to barge in. Well, another reason why they can’t come in because their card is expired or not authorized to access the library due to lag in system information update. This too however, shown in the display of the identifier. Whenever I approached them and asked what was wrong with the card they just say ‘expired’ or ‘not authorized’ with angry or confused face which I really don’t get. They should know better than trying to come in without authorization, right?
Sad to remind you that this is a university library door and it required NO skill to come in. I really don’t understand why people still failed so miserably.
Second: No food or drink in library.
To me, this is very obvious. Library is a public area to study, enjoy books and maybe do school work. How can I concentrate if while I am reading there is a smell big mac and munching sound from one beside me? In addition, this five floors library has only two entrances, not much ventilation. Imagine if ten people eat Subway sandwich in the area everyday, can we smell fresh air ever again? Yet another issue with drinks. We do allow sealed container beverages but not those that could spill. This is a preventive measure such that no water will be spilled on to the devices and broke any of library’s property. Not only that, apparently these people are not very responsible of their rubbish. Often me and the security found empty cans and snack packages around the study area, which really downgraded the hygiene of the place. If one really in need to refresh themselves, the library offer this place where you can eat snacks and drink called the refreshment zone, still people will secretly eat inside the library premise without feeling guilty. Well, a lot of this library users, who are pursuing degree or universities staffs and professors, don’t care and some even scolded us for having the policy. Very ironic and I cannot understand why.
Third: Discussion volume
Remember what your mom used to say when visiting a public library? “Shhh, keep your voice down” or something with similar caliber. On the left is a picture of the learning commons area. Despite being still part of the library, here we could tolerate a little bit of noise. However, some group of people just cannot get how little is a little and just started chatting as if they are in the canteen. Laughing pretty disgracefully and worse of all, seems like have no understanding of public space respect. I have a very legit reason behind this claim. As a good employee I had approached these groups more than dozen times to ask them (from politely to not so politely) but they never fix their behavior and we received numerous complains from other users. I tried to reason with them and it quickly escalated to argument. Despite wining the argument (and successfully kick them out), they still come back again the next day with the same behavior. This actually cost their nationals a bad name within the library cycle where we label this national as troublemaker (lead to stereotyping other people of the same national). And they claimed to be university students. Ummm, I don’t understand.
Three is a golden number so let me just stop here for the moment. Maybe after reading those problematic points you came to a conclusion that I hate this job. Well luckily, I am not. This job is very petty that some people underestimated it but I learned a lot of my experience here and I made some very good friends along the way. Due to the nature of the job, I constantly have to face confused or angry or ignorant people that have various way of communicating, which required me to actually adapt with their style and try not to be too irritated with anything. I also was able to practice my language by pretending to be Chinese or Hong Kongnese as appropriate, then revert back to “English please” if I don’t understand their question haha. I have been here for nearly three years that contract end seems so unreal to me. But it is coming and I guess I am ready. I hold no grudge to anyone but I think the stereotype will still lasted for some time; the things I learned will always stay similarly to all the friends I made during the period. This includes two generations of student helpers, my supervisors, reference librarians, thank you Eunice for the graduation gift, Xiaolei for the morning and evening ride from/to Choi Hung, Susan for nice homemade bread, technicians, also cleaning service jiejie and beloved Ming Jie and A jie, thank you for various snacks and dinner you shared with me!
The perks of working in library? Your own fast PC, self-made locker and ability to enter library when no one has been welcomed yet!
**All pictures were taken by and copyrighted to @random.walk_ (me!)**