NASHVILLE—There must be a million people inside the Music City Convention Center, gathering for the Public Library Association’s annual conference. These are all librarians.
This conference is the Olympic Games of the library world. Dedicated library professionals from all over the nation attend to represent their communities with one goal in mind, namely, to locate free alcohol.
I’m kidding. But not totally. They also visit for the free books, the engaging speakers, and to learn about breakthroughs in the field of self-inking rubber stamps.
I love librarians. Though I’ll admit I’m also a little afraid of them. This fear dates back to when I was younger. I used to visit the library and check out lots of Louis L’Amour novels. I was terrible about returning them on time. I still have overdue books that have been accruing debt since the Coolidge administration.
Thus, I have become very good at spotting librarians in crowds so that I can hide from them. In fact, if you were to line up ten people and hide one
librarian among them, I could pick out the librarian. She would be easy to find. Just look for the sweet older woman wearing tennis shoes and scented bath powder.
Another dead giveaway would be that everyone would be calling her “ma’am” and promising to return their overdue books under threat of the death penalty.
As it happens, the subject of late fees is a big issue at today’s book convention.
“I hate late fees,” said one librarian from Alaska. “They ruin the whole experience for kids who forget books, the kids are always embarrassed when I tell them they owe me lots of money. I feel like a mafia boss, like I’m threatening to break their legs or something.”
“Hear, hear,” said another woman from Michigan. “Most kids are so scared of me they leave with their books and never come back. Which only makes MORE late…