Wednesday, January 14, 2015
It sneaks up on you. Only moments ago I was a dashing young library clerk artist, doing interesting things about town, working part time at a library. Then one day I woke up to find I was Old Man Library himself.
"I remember you." The patrons say. "You were here when I was a kid."
Yes, yes I was. Oh, the things I could tell you. In fact, I am going to tell you them now. All of them. Every single one! I am the fucking Ancient Mariner.
It's all the this lore. When you work someplace a long time you collect so much lore you can no longer contain it. It starts spilling out of you. There is no wrong or right, funny or sad, interesting or tedious. Lore just crams into you and it no longer fits. If the shelves are too full then the books will start falling out. And if one book falls it can trigger a cascade. And so it is with me and all this lore. No one is safe, certainly not the youngster co-workers who've been here for a mere two or eight or twelve years (whatever, they are all new), nor the patrons, nor the random people one meets around town. The lore spills. The lore has to come out. There is no stopping it!
Not so terribly long ago all the library staff here were entirely exempt from all late fines.
There was a round, short, bald man who used to do all the shelving in the kid's room. He was quiet and reserved and just a bit grumpy. Once he went into the break room and said to two of his longtime co-workers, to whom he had never said a cross word "What are you two bimbos talking about?"
An old timer once told me, at some long forgotten retirement party, that our original building was, at one point, 70 or 80 years ago, a pub, and that they could sometimes catch the smell of beer coming from the floor drains in the basement.
We once had no check out limit whatsoever, and the first one we created in the computer age was 500, implemented entirely to deal with the deranged, obsessive check outs of one single patron. For months after the new rule she had a constantly rotating collection of 500 items out until she made one mistake returning them late. This broke her financially, and she never returned to the library again.
We used to have small boating parties on the little wetlands pond out in the old break room's back yard.
The library adopted a hamster that was put through our book return. He was called Dewey and would sometimes run around the Circulation desk in a little hamster ball.
Patrons used to bitterly complain about checking out videos that hadn't been rewound! The worst of these people would then heatedly tell us that they did not rewind their videos in protest.
At least five couples I know of met working at our library and later married, all of them still together, but not a single one of these romances started in this century.
Fascinating, banal, funny, pointless, meandering, odd, creaky, empty and appealing stories. It doesn't matter! They must be spoken. They are Old Man Library stories. Lore. Lo, a commandment. I gave you eight of them here. Do you think that will hold me?
As soon as I finish this up I'll go wandering. A curse is laid upon me. There must be some prospective listeners around. Everyone is a prospective listener. The shelves are full, the shelves are always full.