|"Library" by Dani Jones
New book available here
Imogene Pepper was a young, red-haired college graduate who was as sly as a fox. I say this, dear Lilly, because she convinced everyone in the town of Seneca, Missouri to get library cards on the same day.
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let me first tell you that Imogene was born and raised in Chicago, a big city in the northern part of the USA. Imogene was born into a family that loved reading, but not putting books away. No one in her family would ever put the books they read back where they belonged. Imogene decided that if she wanted organized bookshelves, she must do this job herself.
It really was fun for her, organizing the books and putting them away. Her cat would watch her everyday as she’d read and sort and read and sort and think to himself: “One day, that girl is going to be a librarian!”
It turned out the cat was right.
Imogene graduated from high school, went to college and then graduate school. She worked long and hard for her degree in library science, surviving on curly noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She graduated at the top of her class and was even crowned Dewey Decimal Queen.
Even so, librarian jobs were hard to find in Chicago. After trying to find a job for over a year and not finding anything, Imogene started a nation-wide search for the perfect job. The first one that opened up was in Seneca, a small town in Missouri.
In her phone interview with the Mayor, Imogene told him all about her desire to live in a beautiful place with her cat and be a librarian.
“Then you must come to Seneca!” he said, eagerly. “We need a librarian, and you’ll love it here! Once our town was even once voted the best place in the world to live.”
This impressed Imogene and she started packing immediately.
When she first arrived in town, she drove in from old US Route 60, and noticed a large factory with shiny steel drums in front of it. Sitting on its roof was a giant can of Milnot (an evaporated milk product).
“I guess I’m in Missouri now," Imogene thought. “It looks very different from Chicago.”
Not only did Seneca look different than Chicago, it was different.
Upon arrival, she noticed that town was flat and unappealing. It had no real water to speak of around, and Imogene wondered what anyone in the town did for excitement. At first, it bothered her that there was an absence of nightlife, but then she thought that the library might be the place that people came for fun.
Instead, people in Seneca seemed to ignore the library. Imogene wondered why….
Imogene decided to go to the local schools to ask why. Almost immediately, she met two good friends that worked as school librarians: Mrs. Ivey, a woman who loved knowledge and multi-media education; and Ms. Justus, who loved knowledge and was an expert in resourcing.
“Why is it,” Imogene asked them after they were finished with school. “That people don’t come to this beautiful public library more often?”
“It’s hard to say,” Ms. Justus said, scratching her cheek as she thought carefully. “Maybe they think the library is boring.”
“Maybe they don’t have time,” Mrs. Ivey said.
Imogene thought about it everyday. She watched people walk by and never even glance at the library. How could she get them inside? Once they saw how beautiful it was they were sure to love the new look!
Suddenly, Imogene had an idea. She took it upon herself to host a party for the town and inspire people to get a library card. It might mean tricking the people a bit, but her goal was to get everyone in Seneca to enjoy the public library.
She visited the barber shop, the churches, the schools, even Q9 Powersports! She handed out fliers inviting everyone to come out for a town party to be held in the library’s parking lot.
The day of the party, the whole town came out.
Imogene had set up tents, hired a snow-cone machine and batting cages. There were balloons, face-painting, jugglers and men on stilts juggling hamsters (okay, maybe that last part is a lie, but my point is, the party was a whole lot of fun). As everyone laughed and visited and had a blast with all of the activities, Imogene turned on a portable microphone and spoke into it.
“People of Seneca! How good and pleasant that you’ve come together! Now that everyone is here, I must tell you that the library will be closed until I can take all of the dangerous books inside this building OFF THE SHELVES!”
At this moment, all of the talking stopped. Men stopped slurping their snow cones, women stopped talking and rocking their babies, all of the children stopped getting their faces painted and everyone turned toward Imogene.
“What?” the Mayor asked a little too loud.
Imogene smiled secretly to herself. “This will get everyone interested in getting a library card!” she thought.
“What books are dangerous in there?” asked a blonde teenage girl, chewing gum.
“Why, there are too many to even count!” Imogene yelled, pretending to be angry. “How did the Mayor ever allow such a collection to come in? There are stories of pigs leading governments, flying saucers invading earth, outcasts facing witches, and even children casting magic spells!”
After a hum of scandalous whispering, two boys broke free of their mothers and ran into the library to find the books Imogene was talking about. As their mother’s ran after them, a gang of teenagers swarmed behind them. Before long the library was crowded with people, and Imogene was answering questions.
“Before showing everyone the books I’ve been talking about…and even more,” Imogene said, raising her eyebrows. “You must complete a library card application form on these computers here!” As she showed the people, the computers filled up and a line formed behind them.
People used the computers, searched the bookshelves, sat down on bean bag chairs and read to their children.
“Isn’t this wonderful?” Imogene asked the Mayor, who was confused about all of what was happening.
“Isn’t what wonderful?” he asked. “I thought you were angry with me for allowing bad books to enter here!”
Imogene smiled and sighed. “Well, Mr. Mayor, those books I mentioned…” she leaned forward and whispered, “they’re not so bad after all.”
The Mayor was confused for a bit, but then decided that the ruse was worth it. He enjoyed another snow cone in the parking lot and later applied for a library card. The first book he checked out was a how-to manual on drawing faces like an artist.
So, Lilliana, that is my story of why the town of Seneca now has that big beautiful library! If it weren’t for a young girl who read and then put her books back where they belonged, Seneca would just be a little town with canned milk factory. Instead, it is now a place where everyone is involved in the love of literature.
And guess what? When a big library in Chicago called Imogene and offered her a job, she said no thank you! After all, she was living in the best place on earth.