On my way to looking up another word, in the book that has all the words . . .
poetaster: a writer of mediocre verse; rhymester; would-be poet
There once was a poor poetaster
Whose boss acted more like his master;
He said, “You’re too slow,
If you don’t want to go,
You will have to write worser and faster.”
And with that poetastic first attempt, it was off to the libraries!
A gentleman named Ranganathan
Had five things he put all his faith in:
To each book its reader . . .
We made him our leader;
He wrote Colon Classification.
There once was an icon named Dewey,
Who at dubious letters went “phooey!”
Some thought he was biased . . .
Was he chauvinist or shyest?
Or was he in fact a real roué?
There once was a catter called Cutter
Who numbers and letters would mutter,
While matching each word
(Some folks found him absurd),
Through his 2-figure tables he’d putter.
For three legendary libraries, in literature and in life
There was a librarian named Borges
Who into the world made great forays;
He welcomed the rabble
To the Tower of Babel:
A book store of infinite mores.
In 1911 a fire
Destroyed much to which we aspire,
But allies worldwide
Rallied right to our side,
And restored the State Library (Empire).
The library at Alexandria,
A lexicological dandy, a
Sine qua non,
It had great élan,
One like it, there’d never again be a.
For the Hawaiian librarians and their successful battle against Baker & Taylor in 1997
They say be not borrower nor lender,
Though such services we love to render;
We never grow weary
Of any a query,
So long as you’re no venal vendor.
A couple in honor of cataloger extraordinaire Sanford Berman
There once was a Berman named Sandy
Who with LC honchos would bandy
The best subject heading
Searchers should be getting,
No matter how risqué or randy.
Tristram Shandy was a hypothetical immortal historian who would take one year to transcribe the events of a single day. Although he would fall further and further behind as time went on, paradoxically he would still eventually write a history for all time! ~Bertrand Russell
There once was a maverick called Sandy
Who with needed headings was handy;
He wasn’t a bad guy,
A bit of a gadfly,
A true latter-day Tristram Shandy.
Dedicated to all dedicated librarians who love something else on the side
There once was a bored cataloger
Who doggedly worked as a blogger;
He wanted to write
And stay up half the night,
Not grind in machines like a cog (grrr . . .)
Librarians love acronyms,
At times they seem almost like whims,
We mark tags with MARC,
And we spark things in SPARC,
And we go out on lingo-like limbs.
For Nicholson Baker
Novelist Nicholson Baker,
To some of us he took the cake for
Critiquing our actions
And creating factions:
A library mover and shaker.
For Nancy Pearl
A lusty librarian named Pearl
Decided her faves to unfurl,
She took bun and all,
And she posed for a doll,
Offending the occasional churl.
For Miss Ruth Brown
Bette Davis in the movie Storm Center
Played librarian and little boy’s mentor:
There’s a book she won’t retire,
He irately sets a fire,
Then, ironically, all feel contenter.
Some people are fond of book banning,
Not satisfied merely with panning
The works they dislike;
Instead, they would strike
Such titles the wide world from spanning.
Like flowers, collections need weeding,
Since shelf space we’re constantly needing;
We can sell them in sales,
Give to schools or to jails,
Yet our book-loving hearts are still bleeding.
Please bring all your books back on time,
If you don’t, though, it isn’t a crime,
You can pay a small fee
(It has happened to me!)
But be quick or your debt it will climb.
For Richard Wright whose story is told in the children’s book Richard Wright and the Library Card, based on his autobiography Black Boy
Richard Wright wrote of the day
Into literacy he found a way:
With a White card he’d borrow
Books to ease his sorrow . . .
In the wide world of words he would stay.
For Charlie Parker
A rare bird named Charles used the atlas
To find a feline for the catless,
A cat who can swing
And can look at a king
And can bring jazz and ska to the scatless.
There was once a librarian lover
Who did not judge a bed by its cover;
He was named Casanova,
Blamed it on the bossa nova,
Around Ladies’ Lingerie he would hover.
There once was an old preservationist,
Who of all in the lab was the patientest;
He said, “What, me worry?”
Adding, “What is the hurry?
It’s not like I am a Creationist!”
So what rhymes with librarian??
There once was a Bolshevik librarian,
A pro-samizdat proletarian;
He classed for the cause,
But what gave him some pause
Were authorities authoritarian.
There once was a very old librarian,
An actual octogenarian;
She was wizened and wise,
Wore an all-knowing guise,
And a comfy smock she looked quite airy in.
There once was a puerile librarian
Who stockpiled Conan the Barbarian;
He’d eschew a film classic
For movie parks Jurassic,
And those with Mo, Curly, and Larry in.
For Stephen King, one of the most frequently “challenged” authors of the 1990s
There once was a ghoulish librarian,
Ate lunches of book paste and carrion;
He’d happily hush you,
But just as soon crush you,
That horrific inhumanitarian.
Some of my bets friends . . .
A patron approached the librarian,
A dyslexic request he was carryin’
A nice enough feller,
Though very bad speller,
He asked her was the dictionary in.
Merriam-Webster defines walleyed as “having walleyes or affected with walleye” or “marked by a wild irrational staring of the eyes.” A librarian once wrote that “the problem of ‘starers’ had become a hot topic among public librarians in North Carolina.” Around the same time she asked her homeless relative what he thought of the library and he told her that the main branch had “too many people working in there. They don’t have anything to do but sit at their desks and stare at you all day long.” “I like to remind myself of this story,” she says, “every time I start thinking that I have the one true perspective on something.”
There once was a walleyed librarian
Who stared at each Tom, Dick, and Harry in
Their cubicles and carrels;
From Internet perils,
They were saved from tarnation and tarryin’.
To my man Dan, the longest word lover I know
There once was a British librarian,
Declined to eat liver,
Reclined on a river:
That riparian vegetarian contrarian!
Some men they regard the librarian
As an unsexy mere secretary in
Flats and a bun,
The kind not called “Hon,”
But they’re not the kind we’ll be marryin’!
For my friend Nate
Atlas Shrugged, shrugged the librarian,
Is out, but we’ve more libertarian
Books by Ayn Rand,
And some that are banned,
And others that really are nary in!
There once was a New Age librarian,
Ate health food and was an Aquarian;
He always recycled
And to work bicycled,
And practiced a lifestyle agrarian.
There once was a lanky librarian,
Blonde, lofty, and quite frankly Aryan,
But her friends were all Jews,
Very liberal her views,
And her call to help all it was clarion.
For the followers of Voltaire, master of Enlightenment, whose personal library now resides in the Russian National Library at St. Petersburg
There once was a philosophe-librarian,
A wine-and-fromagey Voltairean;
His ideés were fixes,
And his friends were French geeks,
Sporting wear they looked fairly mohairy in.
There once was a careful librarian,
Who studied whatever looked scary in
The workplace and stacks;
Her warnings were facts,
Like the mine that they found the canary in.
Batgirl, by day a librarian,
Shelved both books and crooks with a flair,
Reinvented the type
And never yelled CRIPE!
An adorable disciplinarian.
And for all kidlit devotees . . . past, present, and future
There once was an unborn librarian,
Curled up in the wombshe was wary in
Her cramped and close quarters,
As she’d put in orders
For all tales that there is a fairy in!
Postscript: For my own biblio-niblings* Willa, Woody, Mary, Julian, and Alex:
There was a librarian named Willa
Who filed in folders manila.
She liked things in order,
A bit of a hoarder,
Kept chaos down to a scintilla.
How much book could a Woody read?
Since that Woody could speed read . . .
He could read a rack,
Plus another stack,
And be back for more, indeed!
There was a librarian named Mary
Who worked, of course, at the library;
She liked to tuck books
Into crannies and nooks,
Leaving room for some new ones to spare, see?
If you do a search that is Boolean,
There you will always see Julian;
With and not or,
His less is more,
And his library haul is Herculean.
Alex hails from Ethiopia,
A once cultural cornucopia . . .
We all do love her dearly,
But can’t always read her clearly,
With our transcontinental presbyopia.
* Niblings is a neologism reported in the Atlantic Monthly to denote nieces and nephews, the offspring of one’s siblings.