Following my post about Microsoft Live Books yesterday, I spent a little time digging around the database. I came across a 1919 book of fiction entitled, The Swing of the Pendulum. In it, we meet a young woman interviewing for a job at the library.
The Chief Librarian stood before her. He was tall, thin and gray with long bony hands that looked as if they would always be cold. He was like a new chisel, straight and narrow and sharp-edged… Then he sat, staring beyond her, as if his progress through the silent realms of spirit had been rudely halted by the collision with a corporeal body.
A few pages later, we meet the library assistant.
Without waiting for Jean to answer, she began moving noiselessly away on her broad, rubber-soled shoes. She was very slight and gave an effect of deep brownness… She had brown eyes that looked muddy through the thick, myopic glasses, and a braid of dank, brown hair framed her narrow face.
Exit library assistant, upon which our young heroine exclaims, “A corpse has a sense of humor compared to a librarian!”
I can’t say anything about the rest of the book, but this selection struck me as both funny and sad. What an uptight, dismal lot were these librarians. Unfortunately, this stereotype has been a tough one to shake. Maybe we need a few more librarians like these.