The Good Time Had By All | Newberry

The Good Time Had By All

Well, let me congratulate you on a fine Book Fair. To a great degree, you behaved yourselves, not tossing TOO many expensive books on the floor, not screaming loudly about prices, and in the case of ninety-nine and ninety-nine one hundredths percent of you, not throwing tantrums when you found we were out of The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

I blame the weather. Maybe next year, it’ll be hot and sticky and everyone will be back to normal.

It was actually a little disappointing. Here we were, all braced for panic when you rushed up the stairs and found we’d kind of rearranged the walls since last year. But with a very few exceptions, you coped better than we did.

Most of the exceptions dealt with the amenities, rather than the Book Fair itself. If you came looking for paperback mysteries, you checked your map, or the sign on the wall, or asked a passing aproned person, walked to the right room, and dug in just as if we hadn’t shifted Agatha Christie more than halfway across the building. You even complimented us several times on the improved lighting.

And the novices had no trouble at all, since they couldn’t be misled by remembering they always turned right at the front door for The DaVinci Code. I DID have one person to stop me and ask “How does this thing work?”

I said, “There are books this way and that way, and the price is in the upper right corner of the first white page.”

“Awright!” he exclaimed, and charged off to spend money. THAT’S the spirit.

Plenty of people WERE puzzled by the location of Room 3, and we understood that. Room 3, which contained much of the old rooms 1 and 2, was the only room which could NOT be reached without going through another room. But once we explained you could find Room 3 by going through either Room 2 or Room 4, people got it. In any case, we haven’t found anybody who got locked in the closets so far.

One or two people had other concerns. One person told me, “You wouldn’t be issuing Reader’s Cards at a time like this, would you?”

I assured her that though I was not, no, the rest of the Library was doing its best to operate normally, and she could get a card upstairs. I had to disappoint another person, who asked about volunteer opportunities. Our Volunteer Coordinator was KIND of busy that weekend (you don’t want people saying we have a bunch of uncoordinated volunteers) so the person had to be satisfied with an email address.

No, it was the amenities, as I say, which confused our customers. The water fountains no longer reside on the first floor, and the public water fountains in the basement were not ready until Thursday night. Still, the weather cooperated: we were not risking severe dehydration.

And there was the customer who paused to ask me, “Wasn’t there a bookstore around here where they sold books that have been hollowed out?”

I explained as best I could. “Well, there was one last year and there’ll be one next year, but there isn’t one THIS year.” She nodded and walked away. A lot of people do that when I explain things.

But you know what you really missed?

“Didn’t there used to be restrooms over here?’

“Where did you put the restrooms?”

THAT was what you resented us moving halfway across the first floor. I deny having done it myself, however: it was part of the plan for the renovation. All I did was hope that with all the rearrangements, the Book Fair wouldn’t go to pot.

After you’ve finished rolling on the floor laughing at that, I’ll tell you more about what you wanted from us in 2018.

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