Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Elizabeth Berg at the Library

"How famous is best selling author Elizabeth Berg?" some of you might want to know. 

Thirty-two out of 100 on the famous people scale.

Not helpful? I don't know what to do. Either you've heard of her or you haven't. At the Library I have told my Elizabeth Berg story, oh, ten times? Fifteen times? I'm pretty sure no one said "Who's Elizabeth Berg?" But then, it's a Library. A few bits of this post I wrote while shopping for furniture. In furniture stores they often put pretty random collections of old bestsellers, with the jackets removed, on shelves to give the furniture a bit more life and context. While sitting in a modestly comfy chair, writing the start of this paragraph, I happened to look up to a shelf and there was a book by her. I laughed. So, she is that famous. The rest of the day I saw no other books by her, though I looked. So she is that famous too.

One other note before I embark upon this magnificent beyond belief famous person at the Library story that it would pretty much kill you to miss. When I went looking for a picture of Bob Dylan to draw from for yesterday's famous person at the library story there were thousands of them, many photographed exactly the way I would have photographed it myself in order to draw from; scowly, and all half shrouded in shadow. Looking for a photo of Elizabeth Berg I found few, and in them she is always smiling. Now that I am an authority on these famous people you are probably dying to ask "How does Elizabeth Berg compare to Bob Dylan happiness wise?" It does not violate our Library's data privacy policy for me to answer: Oh, they seem about the same amount happy, roughly.  So I have drawn Elizabeth Berg using blurry YouTube footage of an author talk. No one really smiles all that much, besides, this is pretty much how she looked during our legendary interaction.

Right. Our legendary interaction. There I am at the front desk of my Library. What am I doing? Waiting attentively for the next patron or something technically similar to that. Up comes a woman looking just tons like the person pictured at the top of this post. At the time this means nothing to me. She's in town for a bit and wants a library card. We go through all the song and dance bits therein and soon I'm entering her information. Somehow we are talking about her last name. Was I fishing ever so slightly, or was it completely innocent? I can't remember, but whatever I said made her say "Berg isn't that common a last name."

I disagree, and I state my case. "I know a Berg, and then, there's the author, Elizabeth Berg."

To which she replies "I am the author Elizabeth Berg."

I nod, my eyes opening a bit and I say "I've shelved a lot of your books."

"I bet you have." She calmly retorts.

That's about it. I can be very quick at my job when no one is looking. And she is in no mood to linger.

I have thought a bit about this interaction. Up until recently I rather questioned my comment, and figured it could be better:

"We are unbelievably honored to have you in our humble Library."

Or how about "Wow, you're big time. Have you met Jane Austen?"

Or "If you'll pop upstairs and sign every one of your books I can get you walking out of here with any one book, CD, DVD or video game you want."

On second thought I might not have been able to do that much better. Only recently did it come to my attention that she needn't have savaged an innocent Library clerk. She too could have done better. How about:

"Try reading one. You might like it."

And I would have.


  1. Regarding your blog entries about celebrities at the library, these are the ones I can recall seeing (or thinking I saw......): Dudley Riggs. There were a couple more, but I can't think of them now that I want to. Several authors that were there to do author talks, so I don't really count them altho I was pretty thrilled and star struck to meet them. Same with local news personalities. They were there doing stories about library events. Oh, now I remember one other: Irv Cross, NFL Today football commentator.

  2. Well, frankly I think her response was snotty. Maybe I could make excuses for her having a bad day or some such but I'm still immediately struck by such a response to you who are the embodiment of thoughtfulness. And.... although I try not to waste my synapses on shoulda-woulds-coulda's, the Jane Austen retort sounds hilariously appropriate! next time she pops in you'll be prepared. Maybe she'll appreciate the repartee.


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