Cues for You: Etiquette for Library Staff
As a new employee of the Minneapolis Public Library in 1947, you would have been handed a welcome manual which details “in brief what you can expect of the Library and in return what it expects of you.” A few pages have been excerpted here. Even if you are not a library employee, Hennepin County or elsewhere: clear, concise advice on personal appearance, gum chewing and dealing with the public can always be helpful.
On handling books: “Books are valuable property and must be handled carefully. To stack them on top of each other at odd angles, vertically or open, is considered not only criminal neglect but also the height of inefficiency in the best library circles.”
On gossip: “Of course, there are gossips in the library staff, and like all gossips, their information is 90% unreliable.”
On taking breaks: “You are allowed a relief period of 15 minutes…You are not expected to go out and buy a fur coat or enroll for a course in Spanish on your relief period.”
On desk behavior: “Traditionally noise and disorder are out of place anywhere in the Library…prolonged visiting behind or over public desks can be interpreted by the taxpayer as a waste of his money.”
Prior to the printed manual, Gratia Countryman, the director of Minneapolis Public Library for over 30 years, found it necessary to put fingers to typewriter in order to call attention to a number of library employee oversights.