Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian
Saturday, January 17, 2009

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TR (ANNC): And now, from the Hushed Reading Room of the Herndon County Library, we bring you: Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian (THEME)

SS: It's a beautiful day, Kent. Twenty-one degrees below zero! Perfect reading weather.

FN (TEEN): I don't think we'll be getting many people in the library, Miss Harrison. Not when it's cold enough to freeze the uh— off a — well, you know—

SS: Oh, we'll get plenty of patrons. People want to sit and read books in front of the fire and get caught up in the adventures of David Copperfield.

FN (TEEN): Why would they want to read about a magician?

SS: A who?

FN (TEEN): David Copperfield.

SS: David Copperfield is the title of a novel by Charles Dickens, Kent.

FN (TEEN): Who's Charles Dickens Kent?

SS: Oh Kent. And you the valedictorian. (DOOR OPENS, WIND, DOOR CLOSE, FOOTSTEPS) Oh dear, now what's this? (FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)

TR: Afternoon, Ruth.

SS: Mr. Parker! Didn't recognize you, all bundled up in that parka.

TR: Cold out there. Brrrrr. Colder than a librarian's — well, you know—

SS: So how's everything on the Library Board, Mr. Parker?

TR: We've got to cut expenditures, Ruth. Cut, cut, cut. Hard times. Gotta bite the bullet. That's why I came over. Looking for savings. Got the heat turned up kind of high, don't you think?

SS: Sixty-seven degrees, Mr. Parker.

TR: Put on a sweater, I say. (FOOTSTEPS) Not many patrons I see— And how come all the dictionaries? Huh? You got a whole shelf of them here. Who uses these things?

SS: Whoever wants to look up a word—

TR: Throwing money down a rathole, if you ask me. People get all this stuff online now. Library is nothing but a relic. It's like we were operating a livery stable or something.

FN (TEEN): What's a livery stable?

SS: Never mind, Kent.

TR: What is it you do around here, Kent? I've always been curious.

FN (TEEN): I do a lot of tidying up-

SS: Mr. Parker-leave Kent alone. Look at me, Mr. Parker.

TR: Look at you—? Why should I— look— at—you—Ruth—

SS: I've been reading a book about hypnosis, — and I guess it really works.

FN (TEEN): Wow, Miss Harrison. You've got Mr. Parker all google-eyed and his mouth wide open—

SS: Mr. Parker, do exactly as I say.

TR: Do exactly as you say.

FN (TEEN): Have him turn around and bend over, Miss Harrison.

SS: Kent, quiet. I want you to get that Webster's Dictionary from the shelf, Mr. Parker, and look up a word for me—

TR: Look up a word— look up a word— look up a word—

SS: And that word is "moron," Mr. Parker.

TR: Moron.

SS: M-o-r-o-n. Moron.

TR: Okay. M-o-r-o-n.

FN (TEEN):Mind if I get out my cellphone and get this on video, Miss Harrison?

SS: Just put it away Kent. And let's you and I celebrate! What do you say??

FN (TEEN): Gosh Miss Harrison— a bottle of champagne? In the library? (CORK POPS, CHAMPAGNE POURS)

SS: It's for the NEA study that came out this week, Kent. It says that literary reading is on the rise. The percentage of adults who have read one novel, story, or poem, is up to 50%.

FN (TEEN): Whoa. And what about the other 50%?

SS: We're working on it, Kent. But for now, it's time to celebrate.

FN (TEEN): Whatever you say!

TR: Idiot...imbecile...dimwit...birdbrain...blockhead, bonehead, boob, clown, cretin, dimwit...

SS: Keep your voice down, Mr. Parker.

(GK CLEARS THROAT)

SS: Oh. I'm sorry sir, I didn't see you standing there.

GK: It's okay, take your time. I just came in to look up a word.

TR: Dolt, dope, dunderhead.

GK: No, none of those.

SS: I'm the Reference Librarian here-is there something I can help you find?

GK: Just give me a dictionary and I'll find it myself—

SS: Well, what word is it? So I can get you the right dictionary.

GK: Just a regular English dictionary would be fine, ma'am-

SS: And if you'll just tell me what word you want to find, I can direct you to the right one.

GK: You're just as stubborn as always, I see, Ruth.

SS: Oh?

GK: Middlesex High School. (A BEAT)

SS: Carson.

GK: You remember.

SS: Oh my gosh. (HEARTBEAT) I never thought I'd see you again.

TR: Fathead, halfwit, ignoramus, imbecile.

GK: Nor I you.

FN (TEEN): Should I go?

SS: No no, it's perfectly okay Kent. Kent this is Carson Woodward. A classmate at Middlesex High School. Carson and I edited our high school literary magazine.

GK: The Literary Leaf. She was the editor, I was just a moon in orbit around her.

SS: He wrote beautiful poems.

GK: Well, not bad for seventeen.

TR: Lamebrain, lightweight, loon, nerd, nincompoop, ninny, nitwit, numskull.

FN (TEEN): What kind of poems did you write, Mr. Woodward?

GK: The most urgent kind of poems. Love poems.

FN (TEEN): Wowser.

SS: Anyway, what word was it you wanted to look up?

GK: Oh, it doesn't matter.

SS: Just tell me—

FN (TEEN): So Miss Harrison published your poems?

GK: Published some and some she wouldn't. My best ones she turned down.

SS: Oh my—

FN (TEEN): How come?

GK: She thought they were too personal.

SS: Kent, don't you have books to reshelve?

FN (TEEN): All done reshelving—

SS: Anyway it was a long time ago—

GK: The best poem she rejected was one that went {" in the morning I saw my lover on the bed, eyes closed, mouth open—

SS: Please—

GK: And I crept across the sand dunes and over a hill with tufts of sea grass and snaked myself into a ravine and there found— (HAND OVER MOUTH, MURMURS)

SS: That will be enough of that. How long are you in town for, Carson? We could have dinner—

GK: I'm on the run. Some other time.

SS: At our age, there aren't so many other times left—

GK: Sorry—

SS: What word were you wanting to look up, Carson?

GK: "Disinterested" —

SS: Oh. Right. That.

GK: That note you wrote me.

SS: Yes. When I turned down the poem.

GK: You remember?

SS: I do. I said that when it came to your poems I was a disinterested reader.

GK: Yes.

SS: You thought I meant "uninterested" —

GK: I did.

SS: "Uninterested" means that you don't care. "Disinterested" means that you're impartial.

GK: I suppose there's a difference.

SS: The word I wish I had used was "fascinated" or "spellbound" —

TR: Simpleton, sucker, turkey, twerp, twit, yahoo.

GK: Oh well. It was a long time ago.

SS: Thanks for stopping by.

GK: You're welcome. Maybe I'll come back in the spring.

SS: I'd like that. So what are you up to these days, Carson? Still on the road? You used to sell things I recall. And weren't you married to that cheerleader?

GK: See you in the spring. Bye (FOOTSTEPS, AND STOP) (DOOR OPEN, CLOSE)

(THEME)

TR (ANNC): Join us again in the stately reading room of the Herndon County Library when we bring you another episode of... Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian. (THEME OUT)

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