Why You Should Never Upset A Librarian

I wish, if I may, to dispel a number of rumours about librarians; believe me when I tell you that they are not always what they seem. And certainly, they should never be provoked, as one never truly knows what one is dealing with.

Firstly, a librarian may seem demure and harmless, but these people are strong. Well, you would be if you lifted weights for eight hours a day, five days a week. What is deceptive is that they are not all built like Arnold Schwartzenegger, so caution must always be exercised, lest they politely show you to the required shelving – head first. They are also exceedingly fit from walking around shelving all day, and have the patience of saints. However, even a saint’s patience can be tried a little too often, so don’t push your luck.

Secondly, a librarian is always armed. For even the Doctor acknowledged that books are the most powerful weapons in the world, and with a book, the world can be changed. There are few things more dangerous than someone with an education (admittedly, someone with a gun would be one). A librarian has at their disposal a bottomless fount of wit, wisdom and instruction manuals enough to survive almost any situation. Tread carefully.

Thirdly, a librarian will always have better grammar than you. So don’t argue – unless you are their former English teacher, in which case, good luck. Chances are they will also have a greater command of a number of other languages, alive or dead, so don’t be tempted to lapse into the vernacular. They will still defeat you.

And finally, librarians have a thankless task in trying to keep the Great British Public reading, for free, in a time when the Not So Great British Government is hell-bent on closing them down and condemning poorer families, students, the elderly and young children to a lifetime of illiteracy. Theirs is a lonely fight for a noble cause and, much like the chivalrous knights of old, they risk becoming a part of myth and legend instead of reality.

For the record, the author always wanted to be a librarian. I still do. I hold them in the highest esteem, the greatest respect and deepest envy. Best wishes to librarians everywhere.

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