As the last parent and her child left through the great glass doors of the Oakreach Library, Ms. Griffith took a deep breath. It was a good day, a productive day. Now that the summer programs have started up, attendance has almost doubled within the week. It warmed her heart that children still found solace and adventure within the pages of a good book. The more children read, the more books they will take out, and eventually, the more books that need to be shelved.
But this was not a problem- not for a book lover.
However, if Ms. Griffith wished to get home before dark, she was going to need some help.
To the back of the library she went, to where the children kept projects they had made. The wall was covered with sheets of artwork, many a colorful collection of crayon scribbles. Others were drawn with a practiced hand and a sharpened pencil. Plenty of these were tributes to favorite stories. There were at least half a dozen sketches of Hedwig, the snowy owl from Harry Potter, all of them unique in their own way. Others were of scenery or portraits of themselves or a dear friend.
Besides the covered wall was a small wooden table with sculptures. Some were made of clay, others paper mache. Others, donated by local artists, were carved from wood or wax. Every single one was different, from the snowmen made from three balls of clay to the delicate wooden flowers, each petal carved by a careful hand.
One of these sculptures stood out from the rest since it was always there. It was that of a snake-like creature with a diamond head. It possessed no arms, legs, or wings. However, it had large, delicate ears, like fins, sprouting from the side of its slender head. Despite its constant presence, it never looked the same. Sometimes it would be carved from stone or built with glue and craft supplies. Ms. Griffith even remembered a month when it was made by gluing packing peanuts together. Today however, it was made of paper mache. The statue’s skin was flawed, like the newspaper did not completely settle before it was painted over in a bright pink.
Ms. Griffith leaned forward, bending at the waist, and whispered into the statue’s ear. “Good evening Ms. Fauna. It’s time to wake up.”
She was not the least bit surprised when the statue began to shift. Bright pink became pale forest green as rough newspaper became sleek scale. Her fin-like ears twitched as Ms. Fauna’s jaws opened in a wide yawn that exposed every single one of her needle-like teeth. When her golden eyes came to rest on Ms. Griffith, a fang-filled smile spread across her scaly mug. “Good evening my dear” she croaked, rubbing sleep out of her eyes with the end of her whip-thin tail, “Do you happen to have my spectacles?”
“I do” Ms. Griffith nodded, producing a pair of glasses with a mahogany frame. Rubies braided in their golden chain caught the artificial light from a nearby lamp. “Would you like them now?”
“Yes please, that would be wonderful” Ms. Fauna said, bowing her diamond head.
Before resting the frames on Ms. Fauna’s pointed snout, the young librarian hung the chain on one of the spikes protruding from her long, and seemingly endless neck. With the deft fingers of an optician, she tucked the arms behind Ms. Fauna’s lovely ears. “How’s that?” she asked, straightening herself.
“Quite well, thank you” Ms. Fauna grinned, pushing the frames up her slender nose with her tail, “Now, what’s our job this evening?”
“Reorganization and shelving” Ms. Griffith stated.
“Excellent!” Ms. Fauna slithered from the table without disturbing any of the statues. Now on the ground, she grew to the size of a large doberman. “I have many ideas to improve our card catalog system. It is growing a little outdated, you know.”
“I know indeed” the librarian nodded, “That is why we are handing it over to Archie.”
“Archie!” Ms. Fauna cried, coiling herself in an offended loop, “I beg your pardon!”
“As you should” Ms. Griffith scolded, “You have been nothing but rude to the poor arachnid since he arrived. The internet is going to offer great improvements to our current system. Now let us go together and talk with him.”
“Fine, fine” the wyrm huffed, her elegant form curving silently across the floor, “But I don’t trust him and his new interwebs. All that knowledge, all that wisdom, so easily accessible. Sounds dangerous to me.”
“That’s a very outdated opinion, and you know it” the librarian sighed as they approached the newest addition to their library. The new computer was hardly anything more than a pale eggshell-colored chunk of technology. So far, Archie was the only one who knew how to work it, though he promised lessons. As they grew nearer, the little spider was scurrying around the fancy box, working hard. Small enough to fit in the palm of anyone’s hand, he was ideal for repairs and getting bugs out of the system. Ms. Griffith assumed he ate them once they were found.
“Good evening!” he chirped happily at their arrival. In the evening light, his dark body was almost invisible if it was not for the emerald strips that ran down his back and around his fuzzy legs. As he talked, he spun a glittering green strand into the back of the computer, probably straight into the system if Ms. Griffith had to guess. “What can I do for you two?”
“We were hoping you could help us with organization this evening” Ms. Griffith said, “We are looking forward to seeing what your interwebs are capable of. Aren’t we Ms. Fauna?”
“Yes” the Wyrm sniped, eyes narrowed and snout up.
“Speaking of organization…” Archie paused, touching his front legs together, “I think the biographies are out of order. A young lad went searching through them today, with my help by the way, and I think he may have scrambled them a bit.”
“Not on the shelves, right?” Ms. Griffith asked, eyes wide, “He put them back?”
“He tried” the spider’s eyes blinked innocently, “But…”
“We got to fix that right away” the librarian cried, spinning on her heels to the biography shelves, half the library away, “We can’t have a repeat of last time!”
“Last time?” Archie asked, for he was new and did not know such things, “What happened last time?”
“Some poor soul put the biographies of Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson right next to each by accident” Ms. Fauna said, watching as Ms. Griffith disappeared between two shelves, “Between the two of them, they managed to trash the entire non-fiction section by morning.”
“Oh dear” the poor spider sighed, pulling his legs close to himself.
“Indeed” Ms. Fauna nodded, watching her new coworker out of the corner of her sharp eye, “Which is why the catalog system is so important. It helps prevent fights breaking out when no one is here to stop them.”
“That’s wonderful, truly…” Archie said delicately, “But with my new system, we will be able to do so in half the time. Not only will fights be prevented, but Ms. Griffith will be able to return home before her dinner gets cold.”
“Surely your system doesn’t work that fast” the Wyrm huffed, yet her eyes narrowed curiously.
“Oh, but it does” he nodded enthusiastically, his many legs twitching excitedly towards his computer screen, “Just as fast as it did now.”
Before Ms. Fauna could respond, Ms. Griffith reappeared with a relieved smile, “Crisis averted!”
“Excellent!” Archie yipped, “Now that we have a minute as well as a reason, would you two like your computer lessons? Nothing too extreme, I assure you, just the basics!”
The librarian shot a look at the Wyrm, then turned to the spider and said, “That would be-.”
However, before the word “lovely” escaped her lips, a loud crash followed by the rolling tumble of books resounded in the empty library and echoed in the ears of the three coworkers.
“What was that?” Ms. Fauna arched her neck, trying to glimpse deep into the shelves.
“Archie?” Ms. Griffith turned to the spider, as he had known about the biography mishap.
The little arachnid leapt to the top of his computer and using his spindly legs to judge the distance and the area quickly figured out the space of catastrophe. Gracefully swinging to the keyboard, he punched a couple of the keys until a title appeared on the screen. “Oh, deary me…” he twittered.
“Who?” cried the startled librarian.
“What?” hissed the annoyed wyrm.
“Ten Little Monkeys was put on the shelf right next to Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, very Bad Day” his little legs fidgeted, “It now seems like all eleven of them are… awake.”
All three jumped as another shelf came crashing down, this time followed by the excited chittering and hooting of the ten loose monkeys.
“I guess we better catch them all…” Ms. Griffith sighed, “Ms. Fauna, you talk some sense into those monkeys, and I’ll try and reason with that young boy. Archie, do you mind searching and seeing if any of the other books are out of place?”
“You betcha!” he twittered, his little legs moving like lightning as he typed.
So, Ms. Griffith went after young Alexander, who was sitting in a pile of the fallen books. After explaining to him that his day was truly not as bad as it appeared, and that it would have a happy ending, he readily climbed back into his book. For despite coming to life, his mother would not approve of his missing dinner.
Ms. Fauna had a few more troubles, as the monkeys refused to sit still at first. Once she got them all wrangled, having resorted to her Wyrm Magic, they listened calming. First, she explained that bookshelves are not beds, and are not meant to be jumped on. Frankly, beds are not to be jumped on either, but she had to take her wins where she could. When they still would not listen, she threatened to climb in their book and tell their mother what they have been up to. One had never seen ten monkeys move so quickly as they did then.
Between Ms. Fauna and Ms. Griffith, it took almost no time to get the bookshelves up right. However, all the books still laid on the ground. Neither of them wished to chance putting them in the wrong places. “Can we please, please, use Archie’s method today?” the weary librarian begged.
“Oh, I suppose we must” the Wyrm pushed her glasses up her snout, tying herself into stressed knots. Sheepishly, she slithered to where Archie and his computer sat. Despite her wounded pride, she coiled herself elegantly, and peering at him through her mahogany lenses asked, “Are you up to the challenge young creature?”
“Oh of course Ms. Fauna!” he cried gleefully, “I would love to help you too in any way I can!”
“Yes, well” the humbled wyrm bowed her pale green head, “Thank you.”
“Of course!” the young spider bent his spindly legs in curtsey, “If you would like, I can give you your first lesson now? Then you and I can work this computer together!”
“I-well…” Ms. Fauna shot a glance over her shoulder at Ms. Griffith, who nodded encouragingly. Finally, a long sigh escaped her slender body, “Alright, if you insist.”
This is how the Book wyrms in the world came to accept the possibilities of the internet and it is interwebs. The Librarians of the world were more than happy with the change of heart, and while the card catalog still holds a place in the certain book lover’s heart, many have embraced the time saving change. And of course, sweet spiders like Archie were all to willing to help.
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
There is such a big part of me that wishes this were all true and that I could get a job as a librarian. If it were true, though, that would mean they disguised themselves really well behind their fairly bored expressions most of the time! It's a really sweet tale and I think especially younger audiences would appreciate it.
Thank you so much!! And I completely agree, there would never be a dull day on the job :)
This is a wonderful tale! I love all the characters and your very imaginative origin story. Besides, I bet every librarian would love to imagine a world where they had secret post-closing shelving assistance. The humor was spot on and made me laugh. Great writing and dialogue. Loved it!
I’m so happy you enjoyed it :) thank you so much for your feedback, it means a lot to me!