1. You will be yelled at if you don't whisper. These days, some of the noisiest people in the library are the members of the staff. While library staff members may still look askance at loud, extended cell phone use, libraries today are a lot less quiet than they used to be.
2. It takes a long time for libraries to get newly released books, movies and CDs processed and on their shelves. Any library worth its salt will have books, music and DVDs processed and ready for the shelves in time for the items' release dates.
3. Libraries love it when people donate the old books they have stored away in boxes in their basement or garage; the library's patrons are anxiously awaiting the acquisition of your forty year old set of the World Book Encyclopedia and poli sci textbooks from 1977. Nobody likes to throw out books, especially ones that cost a lot of money when new, but most textbooks become dated very quickly and almost no one coming into a public library is looking to check them out. When old sets of encyclopedias are left abandoned at the library's door (yes, this happens more than you realize), all it does is create additional work for the library's maintenance staff. Please resist the temptation to drop off boxes of old books at the library under cover of darkest night. Please.
4. Everyone who works in a library is a librarian. The standard in the United States is for a professional librarian to have a master's degree in library or information science in addition to holding a bachelor's degree in just about anything. Librarians are the people staffing the reference desk, selecting items for the collection, arranging and running programs, designing web pages and other online content, or working in an administrative/executive capacity. The people who work at the circulation desk are frequently referred to by the public as librarians but they are not. This is often a very sticky subject, especially since it is the case more often than not that library employees, professional or otherwise, are underpaid relative to their counterparts in other branches of municipal or county government. Unfortunately, when the term "librarian" is used to designate anyone who works in a library regardless of their level of education and training, it makes it easier for uninformed politicians to justify keeping all library salaries low; it also plays into the hands of those who think that libraries can be staffed entirely by volunteers. The accuracy of job titles is important, but so is the notion of respect and equity for all library employees regardless of their job titles. If compensation for library workers were better, the tensions surrounding the distinctions between professional and non-professional employees would be greatly diminished.
5. All female librarians are sexually repressed, cranky spinsters who take out their unhappiness on the people who come to use the library. Those who are still young enough can be transformed into the male fantasy "sexy librarian," but only if they can be convinced to take off their glasses and let down their hair; think Marian the librarian from The Music Man. I would be lying if I did not acknowledge my own youthful encounters with female library staff members who were unfriendly and punitive, but those days are long over. The vast majority of people I know who currently work as librarians are very friendly and customer service oriented. They are also certainly no more or less attractive than people working in just about any other profession, save super model. That old stereotype really needs to go.
6. All male librarians chose this particular field because they have personality issues and can not make it in any other profession. There are many negative depictions of male library workers in literature - Goodbye, Columbus and Sophie's Choice are two that come readily to mind. To the contrary, men going into the field today see librarianship as a way to combine their interest in technology and literature. The male librarians I know are extremely cool and interesting people.
7. Reference librarians are no longer necessary since everyone knows how to find what they need with google. I first received training to search the web back in 1995 and I've lost track of the number of times I've located information for a patron in a matter of seconds, after having had that person tell me that they had been searching unsuccessfully for that information for hours, if not days. Additionally, librarians are good at finding information on the "hidden web," proprietory databases for which the library has paid subscription fees and which the average person is not aware of.
8. No one would notice the difference if you fired all the library staff and ran it with volunteers. With municipal and county budgets taking huge hits in many parts of the country, it is inevitable that some politicians will try to use this tired old argument. Volunteers have good intentions, but good intentions alone do not bring with them the specialized expertise that librarians and paraprofessional staff bring to their job through education, training and work experience. Most volunteers are looking to contribute a relatively small number of hours per week; today's library circulation systems are sufficiently complex that even the most intelligent volunteer would be hard pressed to develop proficiency working only a few hours a week at the circulation desk. The years of acquired knowledge stored away by a seasoned reference librarian cannot automatically be duplicated by someone with no formal training or experience.
9. The librarian determines what items should be added to the library's collection by reading each book and viewing each DVD before making a final decision. Ironically, even if I quit my job, I wouldn't be able to accomplish this task.
10. The library does not provide materials in digitized format for people with e-readers and other devices. Not true, as libraries have already begun to provide e-books as well as downloadable audio and video. If this is what you want and it is not already happening at your library, you need to speak up.