National Library Week contest, at last
Last month, while I was away in Japan, we ran a contest with the theme “Thrills in the Stacks”—asking for some exciting event that happened in the library. I read the submissions when I got back 2 weeks ago, but although I don’t do jet lag, I do get really stupid for a while after coming back from a hard trip, and my brain just wouldn’t step up to the judging process.
Problem is, they were all so great. Even with a brain that’s starting to function again, picking the best is no easy thing.
But I did finally manage to narrow them down to a week’s worth (a work week, that is) plus one. (I’ll talk about the plus one when the time comes.) And if the concentration is heavily on academia, well, that’s where my own head is at present.
We’ll send an email to the winners today, but I’m going to spread out the posts all week, so you can enjoy them too.
Thanks to everyone who entered, honestly, your pieces were all really great, and I may post them later on, if you don’t mind.
Because it’s all about the libraries, and why we love them.
An Early Memory, by Sabrina
I couldn’t read, so I was promptly dumped off in the picture book section, corralled in by a stack of shelving with books on top, standing upright like staggered crenellations rising all around my patch of faded carpet. I went to the nearest shelf, pulled out the first book, and looked at the cover: a little boy wearing a furry suit with a tail was dancing with fuzzy monsters under trees. There were more monsters inside, a boat, and they were all dancing oddly about, however, I wasn’t interested in the pictures. I brought the book to my nose and inhaled. It smelled sticky, like the rainbow chairs in the middle of the carpet that I was doing my best to avoid.
I put the book back, taking great care with the bright, mysterious thing, and moved on to the next. This book was thick, or the pages were at any rate, and there were teeth marks on the moon in the corner, and smudges on the quiet house below. I opened it and smelled the first page, crinkling my nose in distaste. Hard pages don’t smell very good; they smell like boxes, and the color was dull where someone’s excited drool had soured and warped the cardboard. This too, went back on the shelf.
A gleam caught my eye, and I stood on my tippy toes to wrestle this one free. It was a big book, wide and new, and after I rescued my treasure, it was too unwieldy to carry, so I let it fall and crouched over the big book, staring at the thin man with a striped hat, shirt, and bright blue jeans on the front. He had brown hair, funny glasses, and was waving, but Oh, that smile was far from friendly. It was the smile my dog had when he stole my cookie. The smile my brother’s had when they were up in a tree and I was trying to scramble up a branch I couldn’t even reach. I detested that smile like lima beans.
Still, there wasn’t a smudge, wrinkle, or stamp on the inside of this book, it was all bright, and the pages were sharp with a smell that sent my toes tingling with appreciation. I turned the pages, looking at the pictures, full of tiny people with the smirking man standing in every single corner; waving. I narrowed my eyes at the letters beside him, and although I couldn’t read, I knew that I had to find Waldo. That was his name, but I didn’t know why, or how I knew. I searched and scanned the tiny people with striped pants and some with striped hats, or an entire striped set of pajamas, but no one had the red and white striped hat and shirt with blue pants.
By the time I found him, the insides of my cheeks were raw from my teeth, but there he was, ever so obvious now, waving from a sea of stripes, looking not nearly as smug. I looked down at him, feeling accomplished, full of simple pride, and returned his smile. I had found Waldo.