Tim Russell: Once again we take you to the hushed reading room of the Herndon County Library for the adventures of Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian.
(MUSIC FADE, FOOTSTEPS)
(FOOTSTEPS, AS RUTH WALKS TO AND FRO, STRAIGHTENING THINGS)
Sue Scott: In two minutes it'll be closing time, Trent.
Tom Keith (TEEN): Yes, Miss Harrison--
SS: Remind me to get John Keats's death mask down from over the circulation desk and dust it.
TK (TEEN): Okay.
SS: I want everything nice and shiny for the big open house tomorrow evening.
TK (TEEN): You really think people are going to come to a party at a library???
SS: Of course. A party at the library is a party you leave smarter than when you came in. I'm sure we'll have a slew of guests. -- Trent?
TK (TEEN): Yes?
SS: Not to intrude in your personal life, but -- you've seemed rather distracted lately. Is there something we need to discuss?
TK (TEEN): No, Miss Harrison.
SS: I hired you, Trent, so you would serve as a role model to the other teenagers of Herndon. Teenagers starving for the nourishment of mind and soul that is only found in great literature. The great epics. The --(DOOR OPEN, CLOSE) Oh. Here comes a patron. (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)
SS: Welcome to the library, sir. We are closing in five minutes. -- Louis!
TR: Hi. Ruth. Could I use your toilet?
SS: Uh huh. I see. --It's been ages, Louis. Nineteen sixty-eight.
TR: I really need a toilet.
SS: Louis was my classmate from Library School, Trent. Louis Lipps.
TK: (TEEN) Louis Lipps-- seems like I saw your picture in the paper--
SS: Louis was a was a long-haired left-wing radical
librarian who read Ayn Rand and became a free-market
conservative in horn-rimmed glasses and a comb-over.
TK: (TEEN) Oh right. You're the guy who thinks libraries should be for profit, run by big companies.
SS: That's right.
TR: Please. I'm going to leave a big puddle on the floor if you don't let me go--
SS: You and I once led a student revolt against the cultural biases of the Dewey Decimal System.
TK (TEEN): You did???? Gosh, you never told me, Miss Harrison.
SS: We occupied the library, trying to force change.
TR: Where is the toilet?
TK (TEEN): What about the Dewey Decimal System?
SS: I'll show you, Trent. (FOOTSTEPS) Look. Europe and European history and literature is given all this space, and Africa is squeezed in to this little place. Christianity has a big space and all other religions are crowded into the number 298.
TR: Please, Ruth. Have mercy.
SS: You and I were close once, Louis. I showed you how to align books with the shelf. I taught you how to say SHHHHH without spitting. I put salve on your paper cuts. I introduced you to the electric pencil sharpener.
SS: I saved you that time when you misshelved that copy of Fahrenheit 451.
TR: The toilet?
SS: Behind US History, second door on your left. (QUICK FOOTSTEPS)
TK (TEEN): Wow. Look at him go.
SS: After the revolt, he formed an organization called CAM -- Concerned Alumni of Minnesota -- which tried to get a dress code and make male students wear jackets and ties and women wear white communion dresses and have curly blonde hair and talk with a lisp.
TK (TEEN): Uh huh. Uh, Miss Harrison-- would you mind if I left a little early? There's this girl I'm sorta supposed to hook up with later, so.
SS: "Hook up," Trent? What does that mean?
TK (TEEN): You know, like hanging out, or whatever. It's no big deal.
SS: Is she your girlfriend?
TK (TEEN): No, I'm not ready for a girlfriend. I'm not emotionally available. She's just my hookup.
SS: I don't understand. Are you going ice fishing?
TK (TEEN): No, we like, hang out and do stuff together.
SS: Such as what? Be specific. Use the English language. Verbs. Adjectives. Gerund phrases.
TK (TEEN): Ok, well, I guess we get in the back seat, and like, you know, do stuff...
TR: The men's toilet is locked. Please. --
SS: Oh! I forgot to give you the key! Silly me. Here.
TR: Thanks. (FAST FOOTSTEPS OFF)
SS: Trent-- I've noticed you keeping company with Antoinette Dodge-- is she the one you're-- "hooking up" with?
TK (TEEN): How did you know?
SS: I'm a librarian. I know. -- And Antoinette Dodge is a girl known for writing in the margins of books and breaking their bindings. I have twice caught her talking loudly in the reading room.
TK (TEEN): But she's really nice--
SS: I hope you're not using the library for your trysts.
TK (TEEN): Our what???
SS: Trysts. Hook-ups. What is this you're writing, Trent?
TK (TEEN): No! Don't read that-- ...
SS: "Like windswept cornfields near Des Moines,
There comes a trembling to my loins" -- ???
Trent! I'm blushing.
TK (TEEN): Sorry, Miss Harrison.
TR: Wow, thanks so much. Great bathroom. Strong flush. Good to see you, Ruth.
SS: Luckily for you, the library was open -- despite the budget cuts that your reactionary friends have brought about, Louis.
TR: That student revolt opened my eyes, Ruth. Seeing librarians take the Dewey Decimal system into their own hands --rewriting it to suit their own agendas. That's what made me a strict constructionist. And now, thanks to some connections I've made in Washington, I'm in line to be the next Librarian of Congress.
SS: You idiot. You are no librarian, Louis, you have no interest in books. You only want to use libraries as a toilet, you betrayer! (SCUFFLING SOUNDS/ HALF NELSON)
TR: You're choking me with the chain on your reading glasses. (CHOKING)
TK (TEEN): Miss Harrison! What are you doing? (SS BIG KARATE YELL, AND THUMP OF INERT BODY ON FLOOR) Wow. I never saw you lift somebody up and throw them down like that before! Gosh!
SS (BREATHING HEAVILY): Reshelving encyclopedias builds upper body strength, Trent. Take this man outside and throw him in the snow.
TK (TEEN): And what about this thirty-foot trail of toilet paper stuck to the back of his heel?
SS: Leave it.
TK (TEEN): And can I leave then, Miss Harrison?
SS: No, Trent. I want you to sit down and read the first six chapters of Madame Bovary. It's a caution against the perils of a casual "hook-up"--
TK (TEEN): Oh, man.
SS: I'm not a man, Trent. I'm a woman. A woman with a passion for books. That's why I became a librarian.
TR: Join us next time, when we present another episode of... Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian.