or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Where The Naked People Are

   July 5th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Unshelved comicI love it when completely unconnected things converge to create a complimentary coincidence. Conspiracy? Come on...

Today's confluence involves the Unshelved comic from 6/29/07 (click the image to read the entire strip), and the book I'm currently reading, Sewer, Gas & Electric, by Matt Ruff.

The quote below, like previous quotes, concerns libraries, but unlike them, is a bit lengthy (but it's worth it):

...Maxwell had also found a vocation of sorts, unpaid but satisfying, even addicting.

He moved library books.

"You ever notice how you can't find any naked pictures in a library?" Maxwell would sometimes say to strangers on the subway, by way of explanation. "What I mean is, you're a kid, your voice changes, and one day you start and wonder if you could find a book with naked pictures at the public library. Like, could they have bought one by mistake, put it on the shelf where even a kid could get at it. So you look up subjects like 'Erotica' and 'Nude Photography' in the catalog, and it turns out they have some hot-sounding titles, like An Illustrated History of Pornographic Films. But when you check for the call numbers on the shelf, those kinds of books are never in. Hell, you might find one that's all text, in French, but if it's a book with actual naked pictures, it won't be there. Even if the catalog says it's on the shelf, it wont' be there. Even if you come back and check every day for a month - when you voice changes, you do that kind of thing - it'll never be there. Like it's been removed. Surgically.

"Well, you know, I figured out why that is, not just at one library but at any library you go to. ...it just hit me: there's a conspiracy. Guys all over the country, a secret brotherhood. They come into every library first thing in the morning, and they grab all the books with naked pictures before anybody else can get to them. They don't take them out, and they don't steal them or burn then, they just refile them. They put the books with naked pictures in boring parts of the library, stick 'em in between the books that nobody ever reads. Then, later, when the kids whose voices are changing come in, the members of the brotherhood just stand back and laugh up their sleeve. It's a very important job."

That is, of course, unless you happen to be browsing the reference collection in the Muskingham Muskingum College Library.

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