Community Columns

Ask Mr. Library Man: Call number for breakfast is 641.52

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."

-- Jorge Luis Borges

"If there is a hell, it is modeled after junior high."

-- Lewis Black

I'm stuck in purgatory; I'm a junior high librarian.

Here's another installment of "Ask Mr. Library Man."

Q: Dear Library Man, since you're a dude and a librarian, should we call you a "guybrarian"?

A: New words, often called "neologisms," are coined all the time, and some become official dictionary words. But "guybrarian" is just embarrassing. Let it go.

Q: You know that phrase "information is power"? If that were true, wouldn't librarians be the most powerful people on earth?

A: Shhh! You've figured it out. Librarians are the mighty overlords of the planet. Our low pay (relative to education and expertise) and our lack of public esteem are part of a massive cover-up.

Q: Dear Library Man, why do most libraries smell funny? -- Raymund

A: Dear Raymund, that's not just the smell of dust and mold in our libraries. In terms of the challenges we face in life, that's the smell of victory.

Q: Yo, Librarian, are you sure "library science" is a real science?

A: Good question. As in the examples military science, political science and creation science, when the word "science" appears in the name, you know it's a real science. "Sciences" such as chemistry and biology are subject to doubt.

Q: With my busy schedule, how do I find time to read books? -- Catherine

A: Come on, Catherine. Kids find plenty of time to play video games, blather on their phones for hours and watch dumb TV shows, so you must be right -- there's no time for books.

Q: Is sarcasm a good quality for a librarian?

A: Considering the overwhelming absurdity of the modern era, sarcasm is a basic survival skill.

Q: Has the No Child Left Behind program impacted school libraries?

A: Despite the diversion of millions of dollars to testing companies, setting unfair and unrealistic standards, narrowing the curriculum and chopping it into amputated bits of dreariness, the bullying of schools with threats and sanctions, spending massive chunks of school time on fill- in-the-bubble tests, some school libraries are doing OK. In fact, they're a refuge where students and teachers can escape the madness.

Q: Library Man, what are the coolest books in the library? Don't say "all of them" because they're not all cool. -- Carlos

A: You're right, Carlos. Three or four of our books are not quite cool. But the other 14,000 books? They're so cool we use them to fight global warming.

Q: Remember when our county supervisors shut down a belly-dancing program at the public library? What happened?

A: The supervisors were confused. They thought belly-dancing was the same entertainment they receive when developers lobby for their votes.

Q: Hey, Library Man, what do librarians eat for breakfast?

A: Your question reminds me of an old Herb Caen column. One of his readers wrote that he started each day with a jelly doughnut and an Irish coffee. That way he'd be sure to include the four main food groups: sugar, grease, alcohol and caffeine. But I digress. Librarians eat Wheaties for breakfast.

Send your questions and comments for Mr. Library Man to Barker's previous Mr. Library Man column is available at opinion/community/story/54059.html.