Shhh! Quiet In The Library, The Books Are Sleeping

Libby Marshall
Mar 13, 2020 · 4 min read
Photo by Danny on Unsplash

You must be the new librarian. It’s such a relief you’re here. We’ve gone through seven librarians in the last six months. They all say the Cumberland Public Library is different than any other library they’ve worked at. Sure, we have a few extra rules, but nothing… Oh no, I’m being too loud. The books are waking up. Quick, get behind the reference desk.

It’s crucial to maintain quiet in the library when the books are sleeping. Have you ever seen a 1994 paperback edition of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle angry after being rudely awakened by a woman asking if the library has Jenga? Me neither. And I want to keep it that way.

Most people think libraries are quiet to allow patrons to focus, but it’s really so the books can get some rest. Do you have any idea how tiring it is to be a book? You’re opened at all hours of the night at the reader’s whim. You’re jammed in backpacks, left on trains, chewed on by dogs and babies. And when you’re finally returned to the library to rest, all you want is peace, quiet, and someone to dust your spine once in a while.

You look confused. Didn’t they teach you this in library school?

See, if we don’t allow the books to rest, plots can get confused. I finally had to pull our copy of Gone Girl from the shelves. After being constantly checked out for three years, patrons complained there was no twist ending. I read our copy and poor Amy was getting so exhausted the last ⅓ of the book was just a description of her napping at a Sheraton.

Make sure to go outside if you need to make a phone call. No, not because of the noise. Cellphone use upsets the characters without access to technology. Just think of what Romeo and Juliet could have done with a Verizon Unlimited Plan.

Books can get too much rest, though. Can you imagine the torture of seeing your friends getting checked out, while you stay jammed on a top shelf no one even glancing at your binding? If a book hasn’t been checked out for six months, you’ll have to read it yourself. I’ve read The Brothers Karamazov eight times since becoming a librarian. No, I still don’t understand it, but Dmitri and Ivan are always pleased to have an audience for their rumination on the nature of sin.

When books dream their plots get looser, their characters roam free. You must keep the books shelved in the correct order so they don’t get lost. The last librarian made the mistake of shelving Moby Dick next to Jane Eyre. The briny waves extinguished the flames engulfing Thornfield Hall and ten minutes into his sermon on humility, Queequeg ran St. John through with a harpoon.

And don’t get me started on how much time White Fang spent looking for the wrong Alaska.

The children’s books have it the hardest. Between storytime, temper tantrums, and little grasping hands covered in Spaghetti-os, it’s enough to drive a book insane. If you aren’t careful, books can find ways to fight back. Look at this I SPY. See those two little figures standing behind the old cuckoo clock? They used to be three-dimensional kids. Now they’re just two little children dressed all in blue, a keychain, two fences, and an elephant too.

Sure, the parents were upset, but that’s why every patron signs a library liability release. Standard stuff.

The library closes at seven, but you might need to stay later to help the books get to sleep. Dim lighting and the scent of lavender usually do the trick, but sometimes the books need a bedtime story. Bring one of your well-rested books from home, preferably a recent release so the books won’t have heard it before. And if all else fails, there’s no creature alive, human or book, that isn’t soothed to sleep by Goodnight Moon.

I know all these rules can be a bit overwhelming, but seeing the smile on a child’s face as they check out a well-rested copy of Harry Potter makes it all worth it. So, you want the job or… hey, where are you going?

Well, if they couldn’t handle the books’ sleep schedule, they definitely couldn’t have dealt with the biting encyclopedias.

Thanks to Alex Baia

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Libby Marshall

Written by

A writer from Chicago. Libby-Marshall.com

Slackjaw

Slackjaw

Medium humor. Large laughs.

Libby Marshall

Written by

A writer from Chicago. Libby-Marshall.com

Slackjaw

Slackjaw

Medium humor. Large laughs.

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