Saturday, May 31, 2008

Weekend Funnies


Friday, May 30, 2008

The Illiterate Librarian

Much has been said of the librarians who don't like to read at the start of "Quiet, Please." I suppose it is quite shocking for some to hear that librarians (some anyway) don't like to read; before I wrote that chapter, I wrote this story about a librarian who is illiterate. There's truth to all fiction, I suppose, and you'll probably notice other things in the story that later became parts of the book.

These two stories are just the beginning; next month I will post an entire book online (granted a short book). An electronic version of "The Library Tree" will be posted here and on my website. This story was originally written for kids; in the future, I plan on releasing a full-length adult novel for free on the Internet. Stay tune for more information on both of these, and in the meantime, enjoy the short story below....

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When Dick Lambert, manager of the Harbor Branch library, was taken from his office in handcuffs for possessing over 400 pictures of child pornography on his work computer, Graham O’Connor, an illiterate librarian, knew right away that things were about to change at the small Anaheim library where Graham had been the librarian for the past nine years.

Two days after the removal of Harbor’s manager, Terri Twain, an energetic librarian who claimed to be distantly related to Mark Twain, was transferred from the main branch library to take over Lambert’s role as branch manager. Terri was young, had freckles covering her face, and kept her hair in tightly braided pigtails. She always wore baggy pants and imitation Hawaiian t-shirts. Other librarians often joked that she was the secret lovechild of Weird Al Yankovic and Pippi Longstocking.

The library Dick Lambert had created was a complete contradiction of Twain’s vision of what a library should be. When Lambert became the Harbor manager, his goal was to have people come into the library, checkout their books, and leave. He took out the reading tables and put a permanent out of order sign on the restrooms, to discourage patrons from staying any length of time. And to hide his fetish for child pornography, Lambert discarded almost half the library's collection of children’s literature and replaced them with stuffy academic books that no one read.
Terri Twain was transferred to turn Harbor back into the children’s library that it had been before Lambert had come. In her first two months, every employee but Graham was transferred to other libraries and replaced with fresh, young, energetic workers who loved children, and had a passion for introducing the library to the community. The library director insisted that Graham stay at the library for a year to teach the younger librarians the procedures and politics of the library.

The library was transformed quickly. Every day, dozens of classes from nearby schools came each day to hear stories and check out books. The weekly storytime was averaging 50 to 70 kids each week. Because Graham was the only full-time librarian, besides the manager, his official title was changed, against his will, to children’s librarian. And as much as Graham silently hated Terri Twain for what she was doing to his job, he had to pretend to like her because everyone else gave her nothing but praise.

When everything was completely bad for Graham, there came the Thursday that made it horribly worse. Graham was in the staff lounge sipping coffee and scanning the newspapers photos. Terri came into the lounge anxious and nervous carrying under her left arm a copy of The Dilbert Principles.

“Paper, huh?”

Graham looked up, nodded, and then looked back down. He could see Terri’s reflection in the window. She was nervously chewing on her ink pen. Graham knew by the awkwardness in her tone that she was about to say something that he was going to hate. He sat still, watched the second hand on Terri’s Mickey Mouse anniversary watch, and waited for it to come.

Terri bit her lip and scratched the red nail polish off her thumb. Then she asked the question that would certify the fact that Graham was going to have a bad week, “How would you feel about doing storytime next week?” Then she began to laugh.

Storytime?” Graham laughed with her. “I don’t believe I could ever pull that one off.”

“Everyone’s taking their vacations, and I’m desperate. It’s just this once—I promise. And it wouldn’t have to be anything special. Just read a few pictures books, sing a song or two, and do a craft. Simple. Nothing to it.”

“I don’t think so. I’m not good at that sort of thing”

“You are the children’s librarian, you know?”

Graham shrugged and loosened his tie.

“You’re not afraid to do it are you?”

“No.”

“There’s nothing to be afraid of. It would be a piece of cake. Nothing to worry about.”

“I’m not worried.”

“I’d do it myself but I have a meeting.” She touched his wrist, “I’m in a bind and we all need to be team players.”

Graham sighed.

Terri patted him on the shoulder, “Thank you—you’re a life saver. I owe you so big.”

“I….”

“Don’t worry, you’ll do fine.” She looked him over quickly, and then looked down at the management book she was holding and tapped her finger on the head of the man on the cover, “You really should start dressing a little more fun.”

Graham had worn a tie everyday since he started working as a librarian in Anaheim. “I wear it to be professional.” He offensively explained.

“I can’t force you to change, but it makes you look too stuffy. It’s all about being a team player.” She started to walk out of the break room, but turned before she reached the door, “You’re going to do great—you’re so good with kids.”

Graham smiled and nodded. As a matter of fact, he hated kids.

# # #

The earliest memory Graham had of his childhood was seeing his father staring intently at a book while sitting in the recliner chair. He was almost five-years-old. “Why are you doing that, Father?” Graham asked. “Because reading is what smart people do,” was his father’s reply. The next day Graham picked up the encyclopedia “T” and pretended to read. His mother saw him and began telling all of her friends what an excellent reader her young son was. Graham’s earliest memory was where his most elaborate deception began.

As Graham grew older, he found that the best place to hide from his lie was the root of the lie.

There was a library next door to his grade school, and he began to visit it daily. The librarians, over time, were all very friendly with him. It was so adorable to all of them for such a young boy to spend so much time in a library. In high school one librarian was so moved by his desire to go to college that she helped him find and get several grants; he used the grant money to pay for poor graduate students to do his homework. He majored in art, which he concluded long before he began college, would be the easiest subject to study since so much time was spent analyzing paintings.

His parents had no clue—they never had. When he excelled in school, it only validated their belief that their illiterate son was nothing short of perfect. He remained single just to ensure that no one would ever get close enough to discover his secret. His only serious romance was with a teacher’s assistant in college, but her intelligence became too serious to compete with.

He went to San Jose State University and got his masters degree in Library Science taking all online classes and paying undergrads to do all of the work. He claimed his handwriting was messy and asked other people to fill out applications. He was good at persuading others to do tasks that were easy for people who could read. He became a master of all the arts except for literature. He frequented museums all of his free time, and knew about wars, art, music, and history in general from museum tours and television documentaries. He was a gifted, intelligent man, who just happened to not know how to read.

He also taught computer classes at the library, because he had expert computer literacy. Two months ago he had turned in his resume to the California State University of Fullerton extension office in Garden Grove and he hoped to be teaching a night class in computers in the Fall.
He had no intention of ever learning how to read because there did not seem any use to it. From an early age, he learned that things were better understood graphically. Now he was a children’s librarian who couldn’t read, and somehow he had to read a handful of picture books for next week’s storytime.

# # #

Whenever someone asked Graham what he did as a librarian, a sly smile always crossed his face before he answered. He never went into what he did. He would give a routine answer filled with theory and rhetoric that he had learned in graduate school. But the truth was Graham had become quite good at doing absolutely nothing of relevance. There were exceptions to this rule of nothingness, of course—days when he would have meetings with other city librarians and he would say just enough to make it clear to everyone that he was a valuable commodity to the library system. Most days, however, he did nothing. He’d begin his mornings sipping tea in the staff lounge while pretending to read the paper. About thirty minutes into his eight hour shift, he’d make his way to his desk where he’d immediately turn on talk radio and begin his day pretending to browse the libraries OPAC. Most of the time he’d appear to be doing something and nobody would question it. But on those rare occasions that someone dared to ask, “So what’s that you’re working on?” He’d answer in a tone that indicated he was stressed, “Oh, I just noticed a lot of our mysteries are cataloged as ‘new’ when they’re old, and I’m trying to straighten them out,” or, “just checking the circ record on some books.” Now that Twain was in charge, he frequently would say, “A teacher asked if I’d pull picture books about animals doing silly things for their class visit next week.” And if, by chance, they had the nerve to ask what teacher, he’d say, “I can’t believe it—I forgot to ask. I’ll just leave them at the reference desk and we’ll figure it out when the class comes in next week.”

When Graham got tired of looking like he was working, then he would take a break. He took several breaks during the day. He was only allowed two breaks a day, but he had developed a strategy to get the most of these. He always kept water in the refrigerator, and took five to ten minute water breaks about four times a day. Then there were the bathroom breaks—at least two. There were what he called “chit-chat” breaks, which were to inform other staff of friendly library gossip. At the minimum there was one of these and it usually lasted until the conversation was interrupted by another employee needing help with something (which meant conversations lasted about twenty minutes). Finally, there were the real fifteen minute breaks, which rarely ever went under thirty minutes; these long breaks had a strategy in themselves.
Terri, wanting to change Graham’s routine, created a library policy that stated librarians most take two one hour rotation a day at the reference desk to help improve “team player” skills. Graham’s rotation was 12-1 and 3-4. He had, of course, protested this, but when he saw there was no way out of it, he sought a way to at least shorten it. So he took breaks. To spend the least amount of time at the desk, he’d always started his breaks 15 minutes before his desk time was supposed to be over, and added another ten-minute break for the bathroom. His total time on the reference desk was never more than 35 minutes.

During his time at the desk, he did all he could to scare kids away, but occasionally one would come up with their mother and even his meanest face couldn’t keep a mom away. He liked dad’s better, because they were easier to discourage.

“I’m looking for a book for my son to read.” A determined mom said as Graham searched the web for a Lee Krasner painting to use as wallpaper on the Windows desktop (he used Google, because it had a user search for images and not just articles).

Graham looked up and politely gave a fake smile, “Well we have plenty of those here.” He tried to sound perky in a phony way. Terri told him his mannerism was too dry.

“He doesn’t like to read very much. I want to get something that will get him excited about reading.”

“That’s normal for a boy his age.” Graham forced a smile, then tried to sound sincere, “What’s your name, buddy?”

“J.R.”

Graham looked at the boy, who looked about ten or twelve and was shyly staring at the ground, and scratched his chin, pretending to be seriously thinking about the perfect book for the woman’s son. Finally, after keeping the mother in suspense, Graham stood and said, “Well J.R., I think we have just the right book—follow me.”

He walked them through the book stacks, looked at the boy again, and then randomly grabbed a 30-page picture book.

“This ones really good.” Graham said. He shoved it at the boy and forgot to be perky.
The mom grabbed it and set it down. She looked at the book oddly, “That’s a little to juvenile for him.”
Graham smiled. “Of course—I was just showing him my favorite as a kid.” He looked at the boy again, “How many pages do you normally read?”
The boy shrugged.

“A hundred or so would be good.” His mom answered for him.

He patted the boy on the shoulder and honestly said, “That’s’ better than I read at your age.”

Graham walked to the chapter books and browsed carefully. He recognized the book Tuck Everlasting because the cover looked like the movie poster. He picked it up quickly, “This ones really good.” He said and handed it to the boy.

J.R. looked at the book, then at Graham, “What’s it about?”

Graham’s mind struggled for an answer. He never saw the movie or heard the television reviews. “Lots of things.” He saw the boy wasn’t impressed and added, “They turned it into a movie.”

The boy looked at his mother excited.

“Thank you.” The mother said.

Graham nodded and walked away having no clue what he had recommended. He hated the reference desk and it was time for a break.

In the lounge, Graham reclined in a chair and rubbed his neck relieving the stress he had received from his 35 minutes on desk. A library page was reading notes he had made in one of his textbooks, and Graham, trying to be friendly because Terri called this ‘A team player skill,’ tried to make friendly conversation. “What’s that you’re reading?”

The page removed the headset he was wearing. “I’m reviewing some notes for a test I have tomorrow on early India civilization.”

“Really?” Graham asked taking a seat across the table, “The Indus civilization?”

The kid looked at his notes, “Yeah.”

“Amazing how advance that civilization was.”

“Yeah.”

“You read anything about the graves in Mohenjo-daro?”

“I don’t think so.”

“That’s because they never found any.”

The page looked up curious.

“Found them everywhere else—Harappa, Lothal, Kalibangan—but none in Mohenjo-daro. I’ve always wondered what they did with the dead bodies. I keep thinking they’re going to dig one up and put my mind at ease.”

“How do you know so much about them?”

Graham smiled. “I work in a library—where do you think?” He actually watched it on cable. He was excellent at memorizing. Once he listened to an audio collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets and memorized half the book to impress people with his alleged knowledge of literature.

# # #

Graham thought carefully about what he would do for his storytime, and when it came, he wasn’t as concerned as most illiterates would have been. He prayed for the storytelling room to be empty when he entered, but was unnerved when it wasn’t. Graham looked at their eyes carefully. Some seemed excited to hear what a male librarian could do, others seemed nervous. A few of the mom’s in the back held their hands to appropriately show they had no wedding rings. One mom adjusted her blouse to show more cleavage.

“Well,” Graham got the courage to say, “Shall we get things started?”

A few nodded.

“Okay then,” Graham held up an ABC picture book, “I’ll need your help for this one.”

The kids read aloud each of the letters and laughed at the silly pictures of animals doing funny things that occupied each letter. “A” had an ape in a dress skipping rope. “B” had a bear roller-skating down a steep hill headed straight for a swimming pool. “C” had a cat riding a roller coaster. “D” had a dog chasing the cat on the roller coaster. “E” had an elephant water-skiing. And it went on like that all the way through the alphabet. The kids clapped when he finished. One asked him to read it again.
Next he asked an audacious girl if she’d like to read the second story—and she did. It was called the “Belly Button Boy.” There were a few words that she struggled with and looked to Graham for help, but he only smiled and said, “Sound it out.” When she did, even if she had said it wrong, he smiled and nodded and said, “Good job—see you can do it.” He was very encouraging that way.

For the final story, he said, “A Picture is worth a thousand words—anyone ever heard that phrase?”

There were a few nods—mostly from the parents.

“What it means is sometimes we don’t need words—sometimes a story explains it all.” Graham looked around the room. Most the kids were looking down or at there parents or at the picture on the wall. Three seemed to be eating up every word Graham said. “This next story is called Tuesday’s and it has almost no words—only pictures.” Graham opened first page, “You tell me what’s going on in this story—what do you see in the picture?” Asking them questions about the pictures got all of the kids excited. By the end of the story all the kids were raising their hand to tell what they saw in the picture, many of them made up things that were not even in the story.

About the only thing that Graham made any effort at doing was showing how to do the craft, which was a Popsicle stick dressed up like a monkey. He got the template from another librarian.
Several parents complimented Graham for getting the kids involved and not just reading. J.R., the Tuck Everlasting boy, was at the storytime, and could not wait to see Graham, “I really liked the book you picked.” He told him.

“Really? Good.”

His mom stepped up, “You really did a great job.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

“Will you do it again?”

“We’ll see.” Graham said. And as he thought about what he said, he was already considering doing another storytime in his mind.

“I really hope you do.” She smiled, “Now I need your help again.”

“Okay.”

“My six year old is kind of into taking things that aren’t hers.”

“That’s not good.”

“Yeah—so I wanted to get a picture book that teaches her not to steal.”

“I see.” He pretended to think, then asked, “Well how about Dr. Seuss?”

“He wrote a book on stealing?”

“Oh sure. Just browse through them and you’ll find it.” He knew Seuss had wrote lots of picture books but didn’t know what they were about.

“Do you recall the name?”

“Not off the top of my head—just browse through them. You’ll find it.”

Graham was helping a girl with a craft, when the mom came back with Horton Hatches an Egg. She held it up proudly, “I found it!”

“Good.” He Looked up, smiled and nodded, “Yeah, that’s the one I meant.”

# # #

Things didn’t go to bad in the weeks that followed. Graham’s biggest threat was when the manager mentioned that she was thinking about moving some of the books around. Graham quietly protested because he had memorized the position of every book in the library, and in the end he won after proving the old way was more handicap accessible.

Parents, especially the single moms, began requesting Graham for storytime. Reluctant and nervous at first, Graham agreed to do it once a week. He had still never read a story, but no one noticed. Each week he’d have different kids read the story, and even pick the books to read for themselves.

Graham felt he had accomplished an impossible barrier for an illiterate. He had become a storyteller! One day, as he glanced at a book he’d let a kid read during storytime, he saw the reflection of Terri Twain in the window and his body became tense. Regretfully he turned and smiled at her.

“I have a surprise.” She said holding up a wrapped box.

“What’s this?”

She handed it to him, “Open it.”

It was a Hawaiian shirt with Mickey Mouse. He did his best to show some courteous enthusiasm.

“Wow, thanks.”

“It was on clearance at the Disney store and I thought you’d like it.”

“Maybe you could wear it instead of a tie one day.”

“Maybe.” He lied. “Thank you—I love it.”

“There’s more.”

Graham starred curiously.

“Look under the shirt.”

There was a Southwest Airlines envelope. Graham was confused.

“It’s to Sacramento.”

“Sacramento?”

“The library allotted some money this year to spend on sending a librarian up North to the CLA conventions.”

Graham slowly nodded.
“You’ve been chosen to represent the library next month! Isn’t it exciting?”

Graham hated conferences, but forced a smile, “Thrilling.”

“And you’re going to do a lecture on children’s programming.”

“Children’s programming?”

Terri nodded excited, “Yeah—words got around on the way you let kids read the stories in storytime. Everyone thinks it’s giving the kids better self-esteem and motivating kids to be better readers.”
“Oh.”

Terri patted Graham’s shoulder, “Aren’t you excited?”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

A Librarian's Tale

For the next two days, I am going to be posting two library themed fiction stories; in some ways these are where Quiet, Please was first started; much of the fiction that follows is made up of truth. Read that last sentence again, and notice the word "fiction"...I'm not as creepy as the guy in the story below!

The story below is a urban legend; every library has one...feel free to comment below about your own library urban legend!

And Feel free to email the stories, rewrite the stories, or add your own twist to the stories; it's the digital age and it's all fair game! All I ask is that if you do anything to the stories, you cite where they came from.

Enjoy...

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At the heart of every librarian is a desire to know more about their patrons. Not the patrons who come in with their children and want to know where the books on Native Americans are; or the ones who have read every Sandra Brown book 14 times; or even the ones who come in everyday to research companies and stock on the reference computers. These are all normal people taking advantage of the free resources that libraries offer.

The patrons that every librarian has a desire, sometimes secretly, to know more about are the ones who make their days more interesting. The guy who mumbles Alf is plotting an assignation attempt on Snoopy. Or the man who wears a suit and expensive cologne and comes into the library to pick up books on marketing and business theory, but also lives in the beat up van that never leaves the parking lot. Or the woman who comes in everyday, counts the number of computers in the library, and then leaves without saying a word to anyone. These are all people who have stories that have to be deeper than their curious behaviors. They’re crazy, yes, but they still have stories that librarians would like to believe are more interesting than their own, and that somehow these stories explain their abnormal behaviors.

But of all people—of all these people with stories more complex than my own—there is one who comes that I had always wanted to know the story of more then the others. I don’t know where my curious interest for the man stems from, and if this says something about myself, but whatever reason I was drawn to know more about him.

His name, that is the name that librarians adopted for him, is the Short-Short Man.

I first came to know of him by the urban legend that spreads like gossip through libraries in the staff lounge. I had been working for the library for two months, and found myself engaged in conversation with a colleague now retired about encounters with patrons that were mentally unstable.

I had just finished telling my story about an encounter I had had with a mentally disabled woman who had tried to take off my shoe with her mouth while I was showing another woman where books on cancer were.

The librarian laughed, but surprising to me then, acted like this bizarre act was no big deal in a library. Then, while studying the palm of his hand, he said, “I suppose by now you've heard of the Short-Short Man?”

I frowned, “The Short-Short Man?”

The librarian smiled and looked up. “I've only seen the back side of him myself, but others—let’s just say others have seen more.”

My eyes pleaded for him to continue.

“There are many stories about him. Everyone who sees him has a story of their own that’s contradictory of another. Some say his face is badly burned; others say it looks gentle. But they all say there’s something in his eyes. Something mysterious and thrilling and awkward all at the same time.”

“Why the name?”

“Well this is the best part. And by best I mean of course most frightening.”

The librarian sipped his tea, and then continued, “He’s not a regular to the library. There’s really no pattern to his nature. He’ll come three times in a week then will not return for a month. Or he’ll come every other week for months at different times and different days. It’s sporadic. One thing is always the same.” He paused and deeply looked into my eyes. “The shorts.”

“The shorts?” I said amused.

He nodded. “Daisy dukes that show almost every inch of his pale shaved white legs.”

“Yikes!”

“And there’s one other thing.”

I waited impatiently for him to continue.

“He’s a nature boy. Doesn't believe men should have to wear tighty whities—likes to feel the soft breeze that comes inside his daisy dukes.”

I shook my head disgusted and puzzled.

The librarian laughed. “He comes into the library in jeans, and then sits at the table to hunt for old ladies. At some point he finds the old lady he likes most, removes his pants, leaving only the daisy dukes. Then he drops something in front of the woman, bends over, and lets it all hang out! Then as the woman tries to compose herself, he leaves the library completely expressionless.”

I believed the story, but found nothing in it at first that made this man anymore strange than any other patron that walked through the double doors of the library babbling his insanity to anyone who listened. As time went on, I heard several different versions of it from others, but my fascination of the man didn’t truly begin until the day that I saw him with my own eyes and immediately began to create in my mind my own story to tell bored librarians on slow days.

I was halfway through my daily rotation at the reference desk. I was on my knees organizing the bottom shelve of the reference collection when I sensed two eyes looking down at me. I saw him as I looked up, though I did not know it was him until later. He was twenty feet away, but looking down at me—curiously analyzing me, watching me, reasoning in his own mind the kind of librarian I was. And when I stared back, he did not turn away as most people would when they realize that they are caught staring at another. No. No, he continued to stare. And as I approached him to question his stare, he still would not turn away. His eyes were fixed on me.
It was a haunting fixation that I will not long soon forget. I felt in his endless stare that he had violated a part of me and he just kept holding onto it—refusing to let go. And as haunting as it was, and still is, I have always been, though I do not know why, impressed by it.

“Is there something you need help with?” I asked him.

He continued to stare, and answered softly, “No. I was just thinking about something.” His voice did not fit him. It was too soft—to gentle and caring. It made me believe for just a second that he was sincerely sane.

I nodded and backed away from the man. He continued to stare. I went behind a low bookcase, bent down and pretended to look through a book. The eyes were still there when I stood back up.

I pointed him out to another librarian. He watched me do so. He watched and continued to watch. His watching made me feel threatened, and only as I realized this did his staring seem more satisfied.

I tried to ignore him, passing him off as someone who forgot to take his medication. I helped other patrons find books, knowing that even as I helped them his stare followed me. I could feel him following me.

Then after twenty minutes of this staring. Twenty minutes of being driven to my own insanity. I sighed, turned, and saw for the first time that the man was gone.

I looked around for him. I knew he was there—somewhere—hiding and staring. I walked twice around the library looking for him. Halfway through my third time around, an old woman came to me pale and frightened.

“That man!” She said disgusted pointing at a man walking smoothly out the library doors, “That man revealed himself to me.”

“That man?” I pointed. Only then did I realize everything all at once. The man walking out the door was wearing short-shorts, and he was the same man with the wicked stare.

I ran towards him. There was nothing I could do about the stare, but revealing himself to an old woman was a crime. I ran after him, but as I left the library, he was already gone. I checked inside every car in the parking lot, but I never could find him. And as I realized that he was gone I sat on the curb and thought about him. I made a mental image of him—of his pale skin, his smooth legs, and the manner of his eyes as he stared. I was certain he was wearing pants and not shorts when he was staring at me and while his staring was disturbing, the caring voice assured me he was harmless—or so I thought. But it was true what the librarian had said to me when I first heard of the man; there was something in his eyes. They were careful, and indeed mysterious, and made you feel victimized.

For the next several days, I thought I saw him several times, but it was not until several weeks later that I was certain. It was not the library that my next encounter came. It was at the grocery store near my house that I had stopped at on my way home from work. I was looking at the magazine rack, when I heard behind me a man softly asking an employee where they had green olives. I knew the voice immediately as his, and I turned. He was dressed casual with no short-shorts, but I was sure it was him. This time it was I who stared. When he caught me in my own stare, he weakly smiled and turned away.

I watched him from a distance. I did not play his game and make my stare obvious. I was better than that. I watched him without him knowing. I watched him pick out his cereal, his beverage, his lunch meat, and lastly his frozen groceries. I watched all of his behaviors from a distance. I watched to see if he paid with cash or charge; if he asked for paper or plastic, and if he used any coupons. I wanted to know every detailed about the man. It was okay, I reasoned with myself to justify my spying, because it was my responsibility to observe him so I could understand the nature of his character. I needed to watch him to prove his insanity. I wanted to watch him and I had every reason to watch him.

When he left the store, I left with him. I watched him get into his small red Honda. I followed him in my own car as he left the parking lot. It was my civic duty to follow. I followed him as he passed the bank where I did my checking and the mailbox where I put my letters. When he turned on a small residential street, only a half mile from where my own house was I followed him there too.

When he parked in front of a small corner lot, I also parked (though at a safe distance). There were kids playing in the front yard and they hugged him as he made his way to the front door.
I could not push myself to move. The man fascinated and disturbed me. I stayed along the curbed watching the house even when the man went inside, and the kids soon followed. I made up stories in my mind as to why the man did what he did. I made up several stories. As the stories I made in my mind became more elaborate, I began to have respect for the man.

An hour later, after the sun had gone down, the door opened and the man stepped out.

He had changed clothes. He wore a hat, darker pants, and a white uniform shirt. Even in the near pitch black I knew it was him. His eyes lit the way.

I followed him again as he got back into his car, and drove away.

This time I had to follow him longer. I followed him out of the suburban city, and into the metro. I worried that my car would not have enough gas to follow him to wherever the final destination was, but I was determined to follow him as far as my gas would take me. And when I followed him so far that I knew my gas would only take me five or ten miles further, he stopped.

It was at a business complex. He went into the only lighted building and shook hands with a man inside. He waited as the man turned off the lights, and locked up the building, and then walked with him to his car where he watched him drive off. When the car left, he lit a cigarette, then pulled the flashlight that was attached to his belt, and walked around the complex. It was then that I knew he was nothing more then a night security worker for the complex, but I continued to watch him for an hour. I wanted him to discover me in my car. I wanted him to tap on car window with his flashlight and ask what I was doing, and then I would tell him what I knew.

I wanted him so badly to be more than a security guard. I wanted him to break into the building. Or to slit the throat of the man whose hand he shook, or at the very least expose himself to someone, somewhere. But he didn't. I finally left the complex depressed.

He came to the library again later in the year. Again I didn't recognize him right away. He used a computer and did not stare at anyone, though I have since resolved that he had to have been staring at me through the glare in the computer screen. I only associated him as the man who used the computer later in the afternoon. The man wore glasses and his face seemed different, but they were the same eyes. I only saw the eyes briefly, but I knew that it was him.

After an hour on the computer he disappeared. Minutes later the alarm on the backdoor went off. I and another librarian left the desk to investigate and reset the alarm. While we stood confused trying to figure why the alarm had sounded, an older woman came up to me disgusted and frightened, and I knew by her stare what she would say. I turned, and I saw him. He had the same slow, casual walk, and was wearing the same daisy dukes.

I apologized to the woman and curiously watched him leave the library. I didn't chase him this time. I instead smiled to myself as I watched him, and thought, there goes the short-short man.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Telegraph Review

The Telegraph in the UK had a review of Quiet, Please this past weekend. Check it out here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2008/05/24/bodou124.xml

Christian Porn?

Do you want to meet someone who shares your spiritual believe? Why not let Penthouse help you out? You read that right! Penthouse recently bought Christian dating website BigChurch.com. I went to the site and just can't figure out why they aren't more upfront about who their sugar daddy is...doesn't every Christian organization hope to be linked with a porn king?!

One thing porn capitalist and Christian corporations have in common: they will sink to no low for financial gain. I suppose in that sense, this is the perfect marriage...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Dispatches from a Public Librarian

McSweeneys.net has my latest dispatches up today; take a look for some brief online library fun.

But Are They Safe?

Yesterdays post looked at ways to save gas; I mentioned that if it gets to high, I'll consider a Smart Car. Today I ask the obvious: are they safe? This video addresses that issue:

P.S., Hi Donna in Texas! It was good seeing you...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Gas Blues?

Alaska officially became the first state to average 4 bucks a gallon at the pump; some are predicting other states to be at 5 dollars by the end of the summer. Some say in the near future 10 dollars a gallon might happen; MSN had an article about what will happen to the economy if it does. It's probably about time everyone starts thinking about what to do to save on gas. The obvious is public transportation; but if you are like me, a native Californian, that is a sin (plus the public transportation out here sucks!). What are you to do?

If you are the type of person who would rather just find easy tips and tricks to saving instead of buying something that actually does save on gas, then this how to will definitely help you out.

For the proactive types who want to invest some money into saving on gas, here are some other solutions:
  • If you are the biking type, this half bike/half scooter will set you back about 1500, but will save you a bunlde at the pump in the long run.
  • If you have seen "Who Killed the Electric Car," and are passoionate enough about it to actually buy an electric car, then this site will give you all the info you need. You can also sign the petition on the site to protest how mad you are that this practical car was killed.
  • If you hate the look of electric/hybrid cars, and have money to spare, then check out this car.
  • If you are into small, then the Zap Car may be for you.
  • A few months ago, India made the news for making a car for $2,500; the great thing about it (aside from the price), is it actually gets good MPG. You'll have to import it if you want it, and it probably won't be street legal here, but maybe in a few years.
  • Finally, my next car if the prices keep going up, the Smart Car. These cars have been around for years in Europe, but they're still catching on here. I'm one of the odd America's that doesn't have a fetish for large monster trunks or SUVs. I'm fine with small--especially when it saves me a bundle in gas.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Weekend Funnies

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Times (UK)

The Times in the UK reviewed "Quiet, Please." Read the review here: http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/non-fiction/article3986786.ece

As Seen In Quiet, Please: The Long Blondes

If you have read "Quiet, Please," then you probably will remember the name "The Long Blondes." They're librarians turned indie rockers. They are crossing the pond this summer to tour the U.S. If you'd like to check them out live, check the dates below and see if they'll be in your town.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Is Big Brother (Google) Watching You?

Do you ever get the feeling that one day Google will control everything? This spoof video probably won't make you feel better about things...

Enjoy!


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Father Fined for Buckling in Beer Instead of Boy

I expect this sort of thing from American's, but Australians? Has good old fashion American stupidity gone global or something? And what's up with the fine?! Arrest the guy...if it's not a crime in Austrialia to put the protection of beer over the protection of children it should be!

And if that story isn't weird enough for you...did you hear about the man sueing JetBlue because he was forced to sit on the toilet seat for part of his flight! Now that's customer service!

Thanks to Diana for both of these...she always finds away to brighten my day with the weirdest news floating around the Web each week.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dreaming of You Ted Danson

I'm not what you call a fan of Ted Danson. I mean he was good on Cheers and I do recall seeing "3 Men and Baby" (although I don't remember the plot...I imagine it has something to do with three men, and possibly a baby), but I don't exactly have dreams about the guy. Until the other night.

You read that right. The other night I had a dream in which Ted Danson and I were "bro's." I'm sure there's some kind of pyscho-anaylitical explanation for it, so perhaps someone can explain. The dreams been troubling me for some time. I have not thought about Ted Danson in...well I've never thought about Ted Danson. And yet there he is in my dream. If you assume that I probably just saw him on a talk show or something, then your wrong. The last time I even saw him act in anything was years ago...I was probably in high school.

It's dreams like this that make me not want to sleep.

Monday, May 19, 2008

At Last.fm

My wife has been trying to get me to join last.fm for over a year. Like most social networks (i.e. friendster, facebook, and more recently technorati), I join, get all excited for two days, and then never log on again...so I figured why bother.

But I was bored the other night, so I figured why not. See my page and join for yourself...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Weekend Funnies


Saturday, May 17, 2008

Weekend Funnies


Friday, May 16, 2008

The Next Eric Clapton?

For the past fifteen years, I have occasionally picked up a guitar and thought maybe, just maybe, I could be a rock star; it lasts right up to that moment where I pick up the guitar and realize I can't play.

This video of 8 year old Yuto Miyazawa really doesn't make me feel much better.


Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wii Fit vs. Wii Strip Pole?

In just a few weeks, Americans will take the Wii Fit challenge. While gamers turned exercisers do there best to stay fit, a new fitness game, of a different kind of aerobics, is in development. What is it? The strip pole! Read about it here.

With all the buzz about libraries buying Wii's, I have to wonder...will any libraries being using it for adult programming in the future?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sex In the Library

If someone told me to probe up my balls for some online fun, I'd run. But Strokerz Toyz is banking on a few people not having my same fears. They've created a sex suit for the ultimate online sexual experience. It seems like something right out of Demolition Man!

I can't help but wonder how long it will be until someone walks into the library with one of these things on; and when it does, I can't help but wonder what the libraries policy will be regarding it!

There are somethings meant for the bedroom, without a suit--if you really can make all your fantasies come true with this suit, doesn't the whole idea of fantasy kind of go away? I always thought clothes came off with sex...seems with this the clothes come on.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bookslut

Bookslut has a review of "Quiet, Please" on their website.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Hackintosh

Windows is the operating system of yesterday. It seems like they are trying to lose users. First they put out Windows Vista, which is sluggish on half the PCs it's pre-installed on (it was so bad, that I ended up paying nearly 150 dollars to downgrade to XP on my wife's computer). Now it seems Microsoft is out to get XP users too! Their recent XP update is full of bugs.

It's no wonder so many people are switching to Mac. What I don't get is why Apple just doesn't sell a PC version of the Leopard operation system; back in the pre-Intel days, this sort of thing would have been complicated. Now? Piece of cake. So unleash the Leopard, Steve Jobs! I know I'd line up to buy it.

I've gotten to the point where I'm considered turning my PC into a hackintosh until I can get the money and the courage to take the leap to the Mac side. Sure it's illegal, but what are my options? Don't make me do this Apple! Just give me an OS to put on my PC and I'll happily pay you!


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!


Saturday, May 10, 2008

The London Paper

People in the UK got one of there first reviews of "Quiet, Please" in The London Paper, a daily commuter paper. Read it below:

"Scott Douglas is pretty cool for a librarian: the American has a blog andwrites for Dave Eggers' hip literary website McSweeney's. his clear belief in the importance of libraries for communities gives the book heart."

Chicago Tribune (Editor's Choice)

The Chicago Tribune picked "Quiet, Please" this week as their editors choice. See the review below:

Editor's choice—Elizabeth Taylor, literary editor May 10, 2008
With this week's summer reading recommendations from librarians, one wonders: Who are these characters? In this cleverly written book—a set of stories, really—drawn from his perspective as a California librarian, Scott Douglas brings us into the stacks. "Libraries were the place where people of diverse backgrounds and cultures could come together for the common pursuit of discovering something new," writes Douglas. "Librarians were the people who helped them find this discovery."

Friday, May 9, 2008

Do You Believe In the Library Elf?

It's amazing how many library tools are out there that go completely unnoticed even though they can be quite useful. Case in point: The Library Elf. I don't know how long it's been around, but I just heard about it not to long ago.


Basically, if your library is part of it, you can set up your card with the library elf and recieve email and txt messages reminding you to turn in books. The only thing that disappoints me about the service is why libraries have to outsource to an elf! Libraries should have been doing this kind of stuff years ago! As it stands, I know of very few libraries who even bother to send out emails to their patrons telling them about new and upcoming library programs...it's a free way to keep users informed, and way too many libraries have completely ignored it...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I Think I'll Just Become A Vegetarian

It used to be if you wanted beef you would just go to your local fast-food joint and ask for the freshest hormone induced, tortured cow they had. But the times they are a changing. There's a new group out that believes one day it will be humane to eat meat. How? By growing cattle.


If it's a profitable success, you better believe fast-food chains will be doing the same thing real soon. And when they do, I'm going green. Don't expect the government to say it's wrong; they've already loosened laws on cooking up cloned animals. And if your like many, and say I would never eat cloned meat, so I'll stop just as soon as they start doing, then don't wait for them to tell you...they're already doing it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

COLT

For those in town for ALA this summer, I will be speaking at the COLT conference in Anaheim just a couple days before ALA kicks off. My topic is on dealing with difficult people. Details about the conference can be found here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Television Interview - KDOC

For those of you who missed it or don't live in the SoCal area, below is the interview I did for KDOC TV. Yes I look stiff, but that's what tends to happen when you have two rods in your back...






Monday, May 5, 2008

Become an Energy Drink Connoisseur

What is it with people and their energy drinks? This article talks about the drinks like it was some sort of fine wine! Seriously people! You want energy? Try sleep!


It's a fun read, nonetheless...thanks to my wife, Diana, for it!



Friday, May 2, 2008

Picture is Worth a Thousand Words



Thursday, May 1, 2008

Insanity @ the Library

Thanks to Anne for this!

Her favorite library is the Key West Public Library

Thanks also to all of those who sent pictures in for the contest...they were all great!