Friday, December 21, 2007

Working in the Invisible Library

It has qualities in common with Ursula LeGuin's Immanent Grove in the Earthsea books ("Sometimes the trees of that Grove are seen, and sometimes they are not seen, and they are not always in the same place...") and R. A. Lafferty's Narrow Valley, which was half a mile on a side but which looked like a ditch to outsiders. "None of them could see that beautiful spread with the eyes in their heads. Where was it?" And with the doors in the witch's house in Patricia Wrede's Dealing with Dragons, which sometimes open on other, perhaps very distant, rooms.

In the case of the tribal library where I work, people can't see that it's a library even when they are standing next to a full bookcase spang in the middle of the space. Someone came to return the keys of the education department van. There was nobody there but me, so I introduced myself. "Hi, I'm Miriam Bobkoff, the librarian." I shook his hand, and he looked around wildly as if the bookcases had suddenly popped magically into view. "Library? You mean I could bring the kids here to check things out?"

Ummmm... yes. As Lafferty says, "It's akin to the phenomenon known as looming, only in reverse." And my job is to surmount the phenomenon by 9 months from now.

"Narrow Valley" seems to have vanished from Luckily the Wayback Machine has more than one archived copy.

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