Library Planner Sightings

Working in a public building as I do, one sees many types of people. One of my favorite types is the very organized, the list-makers; some of those lists even live in planners. Each time I see one, I am so tempted to talk about the planners. But that’s not exactly what I’m getting paid for, so I somehow manage to contain myself. Plus, I’m sure the patrons would think I’m a little nutty for discussing their planners at length and in detail when all they want is for me to get their book or information and be on their way. (Though, I have to admit, I have discussed bags with patrons before—just a small “I like your bag” comment. It seems a little more normal than “Ohmygosh! I love your planner. Look at mine. Mine’s a Filofax, a Malden. What’s yours? How do you use it? What tabs do you have? What calendar layout do you prefer? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”)

Anyway, my favorite patrons who fall into this category are as follows:

Mini Slim – There is a man who carries a planner that I’m sure is some kind of DayRunner/At-a-Glance product. It’s very similar to the Filofax Slimline Guildford—all black, leather (or imitation) of some kind, open binder. It might actually even be smaller than the Slimline. It looks something like this, only without the zipper closure. I have never seen the inserts so I don’t exactly know what brand it is, though from what I can tell it’s a spiral bound system. But I can only guess. I have looked to see if I can find something like this, but I cannot. In any event, he keeps his library card in there and pulls it out each time he wants to use an Internet station. He always has the planner with him and each time I am tempted to inquire about it.

Planner by the Chair – Every so often, I see a lady sitting in one of our comfy chairs. She has her planner open on the table next to her. Usually she is handling some kind of paperwork—I don’t know if she’s a teacher and grading papers or if it’s something else entirely. In any event, her planner is open to some sort of list. The planner itself is a ring binder the size of a Filofax Personal. It’s not a Filofax though, of that I’m fairly certain. I imagine it’s one that you might buy at a local office supply store or the pharmacy. In order to get to my office, I have to pass by this chair, and so when she is there, with her planner open, I am always on the verge of commenting. But she looks so involved in her work, I don’t dare disturb her. However, I am dying to know all about her methods of organizing.

Planner King – There is a tutor who comes in every day. His planner was the first one I noticed at work. This. Thing. Is. Huge. It appears to be a Franklin Covey, though again, that’s just a guess. It’s about the size of a Filofax A5, but it’s much thicker, with a zip cover. This is the closest product I could find to illustrate what it looks like. I have been working in the same building for just under 10 years and this thing has never changed. It’s one of those situations where one buys a binder as a life-long commitment (can you imagine?), and inserts are only bought for the start of a new year (in the case of the diary pages) or because you have run out (in the case of additional inserts such as note pages). I have seen this binder open and let me tell you that it’s packed to the gills. I don’t know in what capacity it is used, though I imagine it’s used for appointments and notes. This thing looks heavier than the biggest college textbook I have ever seen. But I love it just the same. I always sneak a peek at it when the tutor comes to the reference desk or merely walks by.

Stuff ‘Em and Jam ‘Em – I have only seen this instance once that I can remember. A patron came in with a spiral bound planner, much like this one (at least from the outside). The patron had this thing stuffed with papers of all kinds, and jammed into her bag so much so that it was curled around other items. Of course she could not find the paper she was looking for. I was horrified at such planner treatment. But I didn’t want to scare her off by saying as much.

Designer Planner – This is also a one-time viewing. A patron came in with a Coach planner, much like this one I found on eBay. She didn’t pull it out for use. She was just holding it. Did I notice it because it was a planner? Or because it was Coach? Maybe my radar went into hyper mode because it was both.

Staff Planners – Most of the staff in the building use At-a-Glance products. We get one each year for work purposes, and for the most part, that’s what everyone uses. Some people don’t use anything at all, which just amazes me. How do they know what’s coming up? How do they know where to be at any given time? I use a monthly At-a-Glance calendar for work items. But I also have my Filofax with me, so the work calendar is bare bones compared to that. All work appointments and meetings go into the Filo too. I am the only one in my department who carries a separate planner with me—a stuffed, over-organized one at that. There are a couple of other people on staff who do have personal planners, but only one or two. And only one other person who as nutty about them as I am—she has the Malden too, though it’s the Crimson one. We often compare planner notes, often getting into heated discussions what how we use them.

I am always on the look-out for planner-carrying library patrons, which makes me wonder—what is my job exactly? I don’t think planners are in my job description at all. But alas, I cannot help myself. At least all of my co-workers—and even my boss—are aware of my organizational obsessions. If there is any additional news to report on this front, I will gladly pass it along.


  1. Kanalt I LOVED this post! I like looking at other people's planners. If it belongs to a public health colleague I will ask them if I could look it. They are always bemused by how excited I get.

    Today I had a presentation as the final part of a project management course. When I got to talking about time management I said forget Gantt chart and showed them my filofax!! I tell you it worked a dream for my project and of course this made everyone laugh. Although if I had a big team to manage I would have definitely also used e- systems to share the schedules....

  2. Thanks CP! I'm so glad your presentation went well, Filo and all! My husband and I share our calendars via Google. This means though that I have to add everything that's in my Filo, but I don't mind. Getting him to look at the calendar is that hard part.

  3. Excellent post, I think we might pinch your idea and have something similar as a monthly post on Philofaxy and get people to report their own 'sightings'

  4. Does the other Malden user read Philofaxy?

  5. Great post! I love to look at other people's planners too. And regarding your last post, I can totally understand your wanting to use a pocket. They are so cute, aren't they. But I think you should think about why you want this before you decide to do it. It seems that you have no problem carrying around your personal filo, and it seems to work well for you. Apart from size and weight, is there any other reason you might want to switch sizes?

  6. heh heh awesome post! i am sure that if i were in a job position similar to yours, i would also be on the lookout for similar stuff. i would probably also keep spreadsheets or lists on the regulars whom i found interesting (one job i had, my boss had 3 or 4 ties. i kept a spreadsheet to see if there was any rhythm to his choices. for some reason i'm really into seeing if there is rhythm to things that may "seem" arbitrary. i refuse to believe there is such a thing as 'arbitrary' and that everything has a reason or rhythm behind it. i think art school did that to me) i would have a difficult time not asking about the planners though, especially if i see the patron all the time. heh heh nice. my husband and i also "share" calendars through google and pocket informant on our iphones (incidentally, i love pocket informant if ever you use an iphone) however, he doesn't look or add things either. i end up asking him about things i know are coming up and writing it in my filofax

  7. Love this post! Unfortunately while I see a lot of planners in my line of work, I have yet to see a Filo... although if I did I don't know that I'd be able to restrain myself from attacking its owner with questions :)

  8. Thanks everyone!

    Steve - A regular posting on sightings would be great. Yes, the Crimson Malden user does read Philofaxy.

    Girlinmaths - I don't necessarily want to change sizes, but just maybe downsize the amount of items I carry. But the Slimline is too slim, which is why I'm anxiously awaiting the reveal of the Compact - the ring size supposedly falls somewhere between the two. I like the idea of the pocket size, but I just can't get it work for me.

    SNARLing - I have thought about discussing said planners with the patrons, but just can't bring myself to do it. Maybe some day! A spreadsheet! That's an excellent idea. I don't know why I didn't think of it since I have spreadsheets for just about everything else.

  9. J - It's very difficult for me to restrain myself. I don't think any of the ones I see are Filos either, but I'm such a planner geek that I know many of the brands and can spot them from a mile away.

  10. Kanalt:
    OMGosh! I loved this post! Do more, do more, do more!!!! Planner sightings, what a fab idea! My favorite was the tutor guy and his epic size one. I'd LOVE to know what's in it! Gosh, I would be so nosy, drive people bonkers with asking about their planners. I know I'd get myself fired haha
    Thanks for the post!

    "SNARLing" SO?? Was there a pattern to the ties???

  11. Super post! I've had some lively discussions about paper and pens at work, but never planners - because no one (!) carries one. We're in the education business, people!? What are you thinking!? Lol!!

  12. Thanks, Rori and Robin! I wish I could say that I see more planners in the world, but sadly, I do not. But maybe now I'll just have to keep a better eye out.

    Rori - Maybe one day I'll ask tutor guy about his huge planner. Somehow, though, I don't think he'd be as into it as I would.

    Robin - People who don't use any kind of calendar system amaze me.

  13. Fantastic post, Kanalt. I really enjoyed your descriptions of the people by their planners/where they sat!
    Sadly I only see a few filofaxes/planners in my job (also education) but when I do, I generally (assuming I know the person even slightly...) ask about them! I know... so nosy!

  14. Great post! I admire your ability to restrain yourself, I for sure couldn't. Your post took me to my ('80s) childhood library in a small village in The Netherlands. In it I could see your patrons with their planners going about their business :-)

  15. Good post!

    I think the first one could have well been a Day Timer product. My Dad used a pocket size with a real decent leather cover. They are spiral bound, and I use a personal 2ppd on a 24 hr day to keep track of my bride's medications. As yet it is only available in spiral bound, I wish it came so I could use it in a FF.

  16. This is awesome!!! I see planners in real life so infrequently that is always makes me really excited when I do. I've often thought of what it would be like to be a medical receptionist and se everyone's planners all day long as they book appointments!

  17. Thanks, everyone! I'm so glad you liked this post. I actually have a similar one for the future. But a little anticipation is good for the soul. ;)

    Amanda - I'm thinking that maybe I should ask. I think I might be too tentative where this is concerned. A lot of people who commented said they would have said something. My restraint seems to be a unique thing.

    Nickynic - I wish there were more people with planners. Most people dig out their smartphones these days.

    Crofter - The first one could very well be a Day Timer. For some reason, I thought it was an At-a-Glance product, but I don't know what made me think that necessarily.

    Laurie - What a great idea! Though, I wonder how many people would actually take out a planner versus an electronic device. When my dad was alive and had many appointments, my mom would always take out her planner and all of her notes. More than once, someone commented on how organized she was - she started using a planner because of me, so of course she had to relay this information to me. =)

  18. Love this post. Looking forward to more!

    I must say that I rarely see people with paper planners anymore. iPhones and Android smartphones seem to prevail these days.

  19. Thanks! Yes, for every one planner I see maybe two or three smartphones being referred to where lists and information are kept.

  20. Oh wow I would be the perfect contributor for this on Philofaxy. I work near a mall and a civic center, and generally every day I go to the mall food court with my boyfriend to have lunch. Of course, all the attorneys and state employees and other people who work in town are there too, and you wouldn't believe the gadgets and planners I see every day. Especially this week as there is an "IT guy" convention in town and I've been DROOLING at all the black leather planners and ipad2s.

    I was almost going to ask to take a picture of one, but I think my boyfriend would stop having lunch with me, lol.

    Snarling: My boss has like 3 ties; elephants on circus balls, tigger, and coca cola polar bear. I swear he doesn't know what a conventional tie is.

  21. I love, love, LOVE this. And I want to see them all! You know, in this era of electronic devices, I'd be willing to bet most planner/Filo people are rather devoted, and would be more than willing to be chatted up on the subject. If you do get to that point, maybe a quick pic, too? Gosh, I am dying to see the Planner King and his gigantic, magical stuffed book!

  22. Leslie - I'd love to know more about the planners and gadgets you see! How exciting. One of my coworkers has an eReader that she brings to work with her everyday. Each time I see it, I think it's a planner and I get excited, but then remember that it's only an eReader. ;)

    Roanne - I hadn't thought of it that way. Maybe people wouldn't look at me like I have three heads. However, since it's not exactly what I'm getting paid for, I would have to remember that I have to assist other people too, so I'd have to limit the discussion - people without planners are still people. Lol.

    I'll see what discussions I can start. =)

  23. Fascinating! I'm so glad you shared your observations with us. Some people birdwatch, some people collect insects, and then there are us who are fascinated with planners- ours and other peoples.

  24. What would they call our group? Filogists?


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