Guest blogger Jonathan Caws-Elwitt supplies these excellent Susquehanna County Library Shenanigans.When my wife, Hilary Caws-Elwitt, worked for the Susquehanna County library system in Montrose, Pennsylvania, an important part of her job—an important part of everybody’s job—was the Blueberry Festival, the big annual fundraiser held every August.
Most years, Hilary’s festival duties included some time spent working the crowd in the Newberry the Blueberry costume. That was normal. But in 2006, Hilary added to her repertoire by staging another little stunt for herself.
The library had been selling Blueberry Festival cookbooks, and Hilary wanted to try offering them online. As she explains, “because the time spent would be a gamble, I ‘bet’ my boss that I would roll a blueberry down the sidewalk with my nose if we didn’t sell at least N copies (or make X dollars—I don’t remember which it was).” She notes that the bet was a premeditated idea, not an impulse of the moment.
And though Hilary did her best to market the cookbooks, she admitted at the outset that she was “rooting to lose, because I thought it would be funny and possibly newsworthy” to do the blueberry-rolling stunt.
Hilary continues: “We didn’t quite meet the target by the time July rolled around, so in my pitch letter to the local TV news stations [for festival coverage], I mentioned that I’d be doing the stunt. At the designated time, a TV crew was indeed present.” But, in terms of spectacle value, the display did not quite bear fruit. “Rolling the berry, even downhill, was quite challenging because it was so small, blueberries aren’t very round, and the sidewalk was rough.” The halting and inelegant progress of Hilary and the berry down the sidewalk didn’t shape up as what we’d call “good television.”
However, the stunt did make it onto television … and yet there was a little issue with contextualization. “The footage ended up being broadcast under a narration about the festival, which didn’t mention at all who I was or what I was doing. So there was no explanation for why this middle-aged woman was crawling around on all fours with her butt in the air.” The blueberry, of course, was too small to be seen by TV viewers. “Luckily I never mind making a fool of myself.”
Video made by Generic Theater in Virginia in 2011. As this explanatory article says, “Why it’s gone viral four years after the play stopped running is anyone’s guess! The Internet is a strange place.” Thanks, Emily Lloyd!
Thanks, Ross Gresham!
Library staff at the Multnomah County Library in Portland, Oregon are recommending books to readers based on their tattoos.
Of course they are.
Thanks, Terry Kennedy!
My friend David Weinstock was skeptical when his mother mentioned she wore roller skates as a page at New York University in the early 1940s. He did a little research and discovered this!
That’ll teach him to doubt his mother.
I haven’t been able to find any photographs of the NYU pages, but according to this article in Noticing New York, the film You’re a Big Boy Now features a roller-skating library worker:
I suppose we don’t need pages on roller skates any more, since digitization puts so much information at our fingertips. Why, we hardly even need to get up from our computer chairs any more. Alas. I suppose we could try skating at our treadmill desks, kind of like this guy:
Joke news from 1939. At left, Glasgow Herald, June 15, 1939, page 10.
Similarly, the Library Association Record (London), Series 4, Volume 6, 1939, page 338:
“Then, too I should hope he had at least a nodding acquaintance with the technical jargon, or language if you prefer the term, of librarians and booksellers, so that if told that some incunabula had been found in one of the cupboards, he would not, as did one chairman, order the library to be closed and request the Medical Officer to have it immediately disinfected.”
Thank you, Daniel Traister, for bringing this shenanigan to my attention on Facebook with an image from an unknown publication:
And thank you, Jay Dillon, for providing the versions with citations.
Traister’s Facebook friends then proceeded to yuck it up:
Peter Donaldson: Little things fit for a cradle? I can see lots of health issues!
Jack Lynch: That can give you a bad case of rubrication.
Merrily Taylor: Well, if the darned things proliferate, you find yourself with all these Rare Book Librarians to mind them, and you know how demanding THEY are!
Jay Dillon: What *other* incunable jokes are there? (My own modest contribution to the subsubgenre, some years ago, was to suggest that incunabulists might be called ‘fifteenyboppers’.
Camilo Marquez: I had some grilled with olive oil, oregano and crumbled feta at my favorite Mediterranean spot.
For almost a century, some New York City libraries had live-in caretakers. Here’s a highlight from the 6SQFT article: when the Thornberry family looked after the New York Society Library and lived in it, young Rose Mary Thornberry got to host sleepovers there! Aw man. I wish I coulda gone to one of those.
Somebody sent this shenanigan to me a while back and it got lost in the mire that is my online life. Thanks, Suzie DeGrasse, for bringing it back to my attention!