Evil Tomes: How to Circulate Your Possessed Book Collection
Transcript of Skype Webinar Follows:
Hello, folks! Thank you all for making it today. We're going to wait just a couple more minutes to see if anyone else pops in, then we'll begin.
Okay! Good morning! Welcome! Thank you for being here! Just a couple of notes. This talk is being recorded and will be up on the website in a day or two, You'll all get an email notification when it's ready. Everyone's mic is muted right now, but if you want to unmute to ask a question or make a comment please feel free to do so. I'm working with Tim and Mary today - wave to the camera, guys! - they'll be monitoring the chat and the question queue, and will generally be doing all the behind-the-scenes tech stuff that I have, well, absolutely no idea how to do.
Lastly! If you aren't here for the Association of College and Research Libraries' Rare Books and Manuscripts Section presentation of "Evil Tomes: How to Circulate Your Possessed Book Collection" then you might want to leave now.
Alright. So, we all know how hard it is to circulate a collection of possessed books that are inked in blood and bound in human flesh, the main issue, of course, being the fact that all too often patrons' lives, loved ones, pets, and souls get lost, devoured, and/or sold out from under them. Some of you have tried getting around these circ difficulties by making the books reference/non-circulating, putting them in a special collection area accessible only by appointment, or even by not allowing them to circulate at all, but all these solutions generally mean that patrons will still lose their lives, loved ones, pets, and/or souls, but now it'll happen on library property.
You're municipality's lawyer would probably like to have a word with you about this.
Putting aside the legal ramifications, and completely legit complaints from custodial staff who have to clean it all up (I hear blood mixed with soul is particularly hard to get out of certain types of carpeting) none of this gets us closer to circulating those pesky evil tomes. What's a reference librarian to do?
Education. Education is key. All too often we, as librarians, do too much of the work for our patrons. Our ultimate job with evil tomes is the same as it is with all other aspects of librarianship: teach.
Oh! I see a bunch of electronic hands went up. Let's take a moment to look at some of the questions we're getting here. Mary? What do we have?
Mary: It seems like most of the questions are asking for examples of teaching.
Ah! I see. Hmmm. Okay. It's like when you help a patron setup Libby, you don't grab their phone, download the app, setup their library card and get their ebooks for them, right? Instead, you talk them through it while they do all the work on their device. Ya gotta let the patron drive. It's the same with evil tomes, just walk them through it step-by-step while letting them do the actual incantation reading, demon summoning, soul selling, etc.
It sounds easy, I know, but we all know how impatient patrons can be. I know I’ve had more than one patron jump the gun while helping them with their device, a rushed click or tap and - poof! - all their hard work on that resume or email goes down the drain. Well, with evil tomes you don’t want them reading the Latin or sacrificing the goat before they’re supposed to, the elder gods get real cranky when things are done in the wrong order, and the last thing you want is a cranky elder god, let me tell ya!
So, how to teach the patron?
First: Place the book in front of them. Be careful here, while most patrons recoil at books bound in human flesh they also REALLY want to touch it...be prepared to slap some wrists!
Second: Have them recite the ancient words, "Klatuu Barrado Nikto" ...and, no..."necktie," "nectar," or "nickel" is not good enough! Our library actually made bookmarks with the ancient words - and their phonetic pronunciations – on them. We put 'em right in the evil tomes. At first, the books ate the them, but once we spritzed the bookmarks with a bit of holy water, the books stopped doing that.
Third: Have them pet the book a little and scratch its spine…evil tomes are people too, ya know…or they probably used to be people...or, at the very least, they're bound with human skin. Evil tomes need a little love.
Fourth: Help the patron get to the right place in the book. I’ve tried letting the patron find the right incantation on their own, but oftentimes they’re so amped up to be using the evil tome in the first place that they don’t pay attention to some of the little - but oh so important - details, like going to the page for raising the dead when what they really wanted was the page for razing the dead. I actually had that happen to a patron, they ended up having to kill one hundred and two zombies instead of the initial two they’d been fighting. Boy howdy, was their face red, and not just from all the blood and gore.
By the way, this doesn’t mean you recommend the right incantation for them. Think of incantations for evil tomes like tax forms. You wouldn’t recommend a specific tax form to a patron, right? You don’t know, nor do you need to know, their tax situation, and you’re not a professional tax preparer or accountant. You make the patron give you the name of the tax form they need then you print it out, right? Well, incantations are the same. Never presume to know what diabolical ends the patron is going for. Make them give you the name of the incantation and then help them find it.
Fifth: Once the patron gets to the right place in the book, exit the study room quickly. There are a couple of reasons for this: 1) You don’t want to be hanging around while the patron does their thing – patron privacy extends to their use of evil tomes, too. 2) Once you’ve seen Cthulhu summoned a dozen or more times, it gets kinda boring. Come on, Chtulhu, we get it, you’re a Lovecraftian cosmic horror, but what’s with all the tentacles, bud? 3) You do not want to be in the room if the patron messes up the incantation. Worst case scenario? You can hear the janitors grumble as they clean up your remains with a sponge. Best case scenario? The patron accomplishes what they set out to because they were all sneaky and used you as their human sacrifice.
Librarian pro-tip, folks: Don’t ever let yourself be used as the sacrifice for a patron’s incantation. Waving patron fines so they can use the library again? Good. Being the sacrifice in a patron’s incantation? Bad.V
And finally, Sixth: When the patron is done with the evil tome, or the evil tome is done with the patron, clean up! Make sure to look for any stray unspeakable terrors around the room – don’t forget to check under the table or behind any hanging pictures, those terrors get everywhere! – then put the book back on the shelf.
Alright. I’ve been talking for a while now, so we’re going to take a fifteen minute break. When we come back we're gonna answer some of your questions, but for now, get out of your chair, walk around, get a drink. Tim? Would you put fifteen minutes up on the screen? See y’all soon.
And we're back! Okay, Mary, can you give me some of those questions?
Mary: You bet! The first question we have is from Cassandra P. She asks: I'm currently reading a cozy cat mystery and I can't put it down, is it possessed?
Good question, Cassandra, but I have to ask, can you not put it down because it's just that good a read or can you not put it down because it is literally bonded to your hand and it won't let go?
Mary: Cassandra says it's just that good a read.
Very well! Cassandra, it sounds like you just really like cozy cat mysteries, and that's fantastic! Have you tried Miranda James' Cat in the Stacks series? It's fantastic! "Careless Whiskers" is my favorite. So unless your book occasionally oozes blood or you get crazed, murderous thoughts when you touch it, I think you're gonna be okay.
Mary: Our next question is from Stephen. Stephen asks: We're looking to turn one of our study rooms into an evil tome viewing room, what are some of the do's and don'ts of a project like this?
How exciting for you, Stephen! Here's a couple of things you'll want to consider: sound proof walls so the rest of the library won't hear the infernal shrieking, diabolical shouting, and cries for mercy; no fabric surfaces, it's much easier to get blood off of ceramic tile flooring and metallic chairs; a good ventilation system for the sulfur smell; and an adjustable height desk to help patrons get comfortable.
Mary: Tina Y. asks: my library is going to start allowing patrons to check out evil tomes, how long should we make the circulation period?
Excellent question! If you're going to allow patrons to check out evil tomes, it's best to have a short circulation period. Most patrons already know what they want to get out of the tome and only need it for a couple of days. But be warned! If your library isn't fine free and the patron doesn't bring the book back before it's due, the book may devour the patron, body and soul, and then make its way back to the library by itself. But! If your library is fine free, the overdue evil tome will take no action at all against the patron. We're not sure why, but evil tomes seem to respect circulation policies.
I think we have just about enough time for one more question. Mary?
Mary: Sure. Daniel D. asks: how should we feed our evil tomes?
Ah, that question allows me to segue nicely into telling you about next week's webinar topic, which will be...I have it here somewhere, folks...ah, yes...The Care and Feeding of Your Evil Tome Collection. Sorry, Daniel, you'll just have to wait until next week to learn more about that. Here's a tip to tide you over 'til next week, though: Evil tomes like Skippy peanut butter.
Thank you all for coming, and have a good rest of the day.