Wednesday, June 17, 2015

If I were King of the library, the seventh decree

I can't even remember when my last episode of "If I were King of the library" was or what lovely idea was its subject. I can only eeyorishly be sure that no matter how excellent the idea actually was, no library on the face of the earth has instituted it. That's okay, because when I am made King of the library and all my carefully crafted, brilliant, mad, and dangerous schemes are ferociously enacted, they will all rue the day.

"Who are they?" You ask.

Them. I need say no more. Except maybe that it should be "Who is they?" if you know what I mean, which you probably don't, which is an occupational hazard of reading my work, which is what you are doing now.

Anyway, my new decree for King of the library again plays off the idea of the library within a library. Even normal, large libraries tend to work that way. This library within a library is called

The Pirate Library.

Sorry toucan lovers, not the "Arrggh, matey" Pirates. I mean it in the sense of an unsanctioned, illegal, stolen, and morally unsanctioned library. The pirate library will be full of purloined and hijacked items, first run movies made from peoples' smart phone recordings, the galleys of upcoming novels hacked from publisher computers, government secrets, and bootlegged recordings. The pirate library will be constantly on the move throughout the vanilla library, hidden in the "P's" of the romance section one day and on impromptu shelves back by the magazines the next. It will be run by a librarian with a faked degree who is paid under the table out of a hidden library slush fund. This is the sort of librarian who will accept bribes and command a small fervent team devoted to a frightening vision of unfettered information owned by no one. No one will admit directly to the existence of this library, and we shall disclaim all knowledge of and all responsibility for it.

Why such a library?

You with the questions all the time! Ah, but don't worry, we rejoice in you.

Libraries, for all their many virtues, suffer constantly from an institutional bias. They bog down in their systems. They play nice with publishers, media empires, and culture itself. They are polite denizens of the local government. Libraries are brilliant in their virtuousness and are one of the few institutions that can express the dream of what we might be while hiding in plain sight. But they do become a bit stolid in their goodness and fair play. They occasionally become confused about their fundamental rebellion. They strive sometimes to be more like what's around them instead of more like themselves. They get a little predictable. The pirate library is the seed of wildness and the radicalized core at the heart of the library, unrealistic in its extremism, but fundamental even as it can't be named or adopted officially.

The pirate library is the hidden engine, the secret fire that powers all libraries, and when I am king of the library it shall have its proper place.

So it is decreed, this day, etc. etc.


  1. Are you suggesting that libraries are like paladins? Unwaveringly good and dull?

    1. Well, they can sort of lean in that direction.

      And may I just add that that was pretty exciting to get a question that I didn't make up myself!

  2. Like that marvelous kid who ran an illegal library from her locker?;_ylt=AoCt3NHGwM8BxD2H1669H3_ty6IX;_ylv=3?qid=20090305151758AA7dWwd

    (later discovered to be a hoax)

    1. I looked at the link, but knowing that it was a hoax took much of the fun out of it. So, I guess like that, except not a hoax and rather a bit more rogue.

      I hope I don't wake up one morning and find out this blog was a hoax!


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