Dummies and Their Prison Libraries

(In which a Decrepit, Exhausted correctional Librarian gets schooled in the rudiments of the library racket….)

Right now, the Commonwealth is kicking people out the door via early retirement packages.  It’s moments like the following that proves I’m cuckoo not to take one.

Last night, I’m in the Lending Library with a new hire, Don, an intellectually curious man who is widely-read, he says, “…in every subject but biology, that’s my weak point.”  We are trying to locate Gary Zukov’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters but not having much luck.  Then talk drifts to CS Lewis and Screwtape, a book which, a few months back, I urge him to read (he does). Since Don’s a spiritual man, we wander a few shelving units to the left to find Lewis.

“By the way,” says I, “We just got this in today.  It’s categorized under 213, the Dewey designation for the creationism/humanism debate.”  It’s a book called Going Ape: Florida’s Battle Over Evolution in the Classroom.  I take the book off the shelf, and notice the “Advanced Copy” admonishment across the bottom of the cover. Usually we don’t accept these, for good reasons.  But this section numbers around 35 now, and as I have a few scholars who love wetting their waders in this stuff, this afternoon I have the cataloger/classifier process it.

As for what happens next, I must say in my defense that it has been a long week, both here and at home, so I discover that the phrase ‘uncorrected galley proof’ will not leap readily to the mind.  At that instant, our typewriter clerk heads toward the front library doors to walk down the hall & into the Law Library to retrieve typewriters for the night.  Pointing to the ‘Advanced copy’ phrase on the cover, I ask Don: “What are these things called?”

Typewriter clerk stops.  Our eyes meet.  “Books,” he offers brightly.

Don smiles.  It takes me a few seconds –doe-in-the-headlights style– but it starts to sink in.  “I thought you went to school for this?” Typewriter Clerk continues.  Now I’m laughing.  “We should write Prison Libraries for Dummies so you know these things.” Exit Typewriter Clerk.

Now I can’t stop laughing.

Don, a student in the current cycle of our humor-as-therapy course, laughs & says:  “Was that an example of destructive or constructive humor?”  I reply: “It’s an example of Mocking The Boss, and that’s very destructive, indeed,” I say, still laughing.

Perfect timing.  I wish you could’ve been here.  So that’s what these things are called!  We have thousands of them!  They’re everywhere!

sandwich with words