Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Library Life

N.J. library patron overstays welcome; eats and reads well

The above is a story that librarians are sending to each other, about a man found camping out in N.J. library basement. The reporter takes a light-hearted approach to the story, as if the homeless man was fulfilling a dream, like a kid hiding away in a candy factory. Reading to his heart's content, and eating from the staff refrigerator, who could ask for anything more?

I can't imagine it that way. One of my friends who worked in a small public library described a similar situation to me. First, let's picture a typical basement: dimly lit, cobwebs, dusty supplies stored on sagging shelves, an old furnace. You are a librarian, going down to the basement after closing time, alone. You had heard a sound from upstairs, wondered if it was maybe a mousetrap going off.  Next to the furnace you see jars filled with murky liquid. From the shadows behind the furnace a man steps forward. He is painfully thin, hair unkempt, clothes torn and stained. Doesn't sound so cute and whimsical, told that way, does it?

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