Librarians in the Mist

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From the groundbreaking new field research study of my demographic, Biblio-Solo: The Social Norms of Single Young Librarians in Their Natural Habitats:

Faced with a pressing deadline, the single young librarian will go to extreme measures to procrastinate. Consider the behavior of Jessica [last name omitted to protect her privacy], a public librarian whose book proposal is due on Sunday evening. Her agreement to prepare the book proposal is, in itself, an act of procrastination. She has already committed to writing her study of Women’s Nonfiction (draft deadline: June of next year). Though she will not start writing the second book until the first has been finished, her proposal for the second book, an entertainment guide to Fantasy, is due to the editor this weekend—not an insurmountable task, until one realizes that Jessica has to work this weekend.

On some level Jessica realizes that she could be working on the proposal right at this moment, but she does not trust herself to write professionally, considering the amount of tequila that was present in this evening’s margarita. It is fascinating to realize that, even faced with a looming deadline, Jessica squandered her day by taking a three-hour nap and then going to a party.

But the procrastination does not stop there. Though she returned all of her books, unread, to the library yesterday, presumably in an effort to remove distractions from her home, this field researcher observed that Jessica took home four books from the library today, three of which are for pleasure reading, and one of which is for her NoveList article, another assignment on which she is procrastinating. Even within the realm of pleasure reading, this young librarian is procrastinating with a precision that defies belief. She spends equal amounts of time each day reading new materials and re-reading the Harry Potter series. This last behavior is downright stupefying, considering that she has already read each book six times each.

Further evidence of this peculiar, sad state of affairs is seen in the comparative cleanliness of her house (the floor is recently vacuumed and the cat boxes are clean). One could even speculate that her intention to attend five yoga classes next week is a manifestation of the procrastination complex, though her book proposal will, at least, be finished by then. Further investigation is warranted and, in this researcher’s opinion, mandatory.

Lots of good news this week. Michael Stephens, who is dreamy, contacted me to see if I had anything to say about Blogging for a Good Book. I forwarded him the article I wrote, which will be published in Virginia Libraries next month. He liked it enough that he’s going to quote it in the next edition of his book, Web 2.0 and Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software.

Tra la la, I’m going to be quoted, and by no less than Michael Stephens. (Did I mention that he’s dreamy?)

Got an email today from my library director, thanking me for the good service I offer at the desk. Apparently the director received a letter from a library patron, who had been so pleased with my service that he felt moved to write the director a note, which mentioned me by name. It’s a nice antidote to the boorish chap who came in the other day and yelled at me about something that A) I had not done and B) I could not fix, though let it be noted that C) I did my best anyway.

But the best thing to happen today was the book party. Nebudchadnezzar recently published his book, Read On… Fantasy Fiction. Guy deserves a party for that, right?

It just so happened that I knew the email of his girlfriend. Completely unbeknownst to N., she and I devised a plan to throw him a surprise party. Under entirely false pretenses, she dragged him out to dinner, where 14 librarians, one library spouse, and one library progeny waited for him. We even had false reviews for him. I can’t remember the details of all of them, but they were hilarious. One “review” came from “That weird guy who looks at Elf-Quest porn on the public computers.” (That’s not exactly right, but close.)

In closing, here’s the review I wrote. It is a parody of a legitimate, though unfortunate, book on readers’ advisory, which encourages librarians to go back to the draconian days of forcing “good” lit’rature on people, regardless of what they actually want:

The once-noble arts of Library Science and Readers’ Advisory have degenerated to an appalling state, as evidenced by the poisonous pen of Neil Hollands. Hollands, the evil genius behind the McForm "service" at the Wilhelmsplatz Library, has created a readers’ advisory tool that epitomizes the worst in professional public librarianship today. Read On… Fantasy Fiction shamelessly recommends books of base, ignoble appeal. Of course, it would be impossible to write an entire text about quality Fantasy literature, because quality Fantasy Literature simply does not exist in abundance. A short pamphlet would have been appropriate. And yet Hollands eschews the few examples of decent Fantasy books that do exist, classics such as Beowulf or A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The closest he comes to recommending an excellent book is with his  brief mention of Gregory Maguire’s postmodernist Wicked, but even that book has plebeian appeal thanks to its garish chartreuse cover art. The other titles recommended by Hollands are tripe, pure and simple, titles that serve no higher purpose than to bring simple pleasure to the unwashed masses. It is simply indefensible that a librarian should be recommending these pedestrian hack-jobs, when quality literature has already been written, albeit 200 years or more in the past. But this book does not merely elevate the mediocre: It is actively dangerous for the impressionable minds that might see it. With his crafty puns and shrewd use of clever jokes, Hollands beckons his guileless readers and seduces them with illicit reading suggestions under the guise of professional readers’ advisory. This book must, at all costs, be kept away from the hands of readers.



One response »

  1. Chessie >^..^<

    Hm, I think I need a copy of Read On…Fantasy Fiction for this literary convention I’m working on, in case we need to hunt for guests. Round 3 (next April) has C.S. Friedman as our guest. Is this book available to the general public or do I have to see if I can finagle a copy from the Queen of Claremont aka Aunt? >:)(Elf-Quest porn. ROFL…I have a whole slew of the books and a couple novels. That reminds me, I still have to get my copy of the first novelization autographed by Allen Wold…)>^..^<


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