Showing posts with label Satire. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Satire. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It's A Librarian's Wonderful Life Redux

[Here is my own version of "It's a Wonderful Life," that was first published a couple of years ago.  I think it is particularly relevant now, so I updated it a bit and share it with you again as my holiday gift to you!]

OK, now be honest. 

How many times have you already watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” this holiday season? 

Cmon, be honest.

Most of us know the story –

Clarence, an angel who needs to earn his wings, comes down to earth to help a despondent George Bailey, who is contemplating suicide, to show George what life would have been like if he never existed.

It’s a fairy tale, but we watch this uplifting tale over and over because we all need reminding that we matter…that the world wouldn’t quite be the same if we were not in it.

Remember this?

(George has discovered his brother Harry’s tombstone)

Clarence: (explaining) Your brother, Harry Bailey, broke through the ice and was drowned at the age of nine.
George Bailey:  That’s a lie!  Harry Bailey went to war – he got the Congressional Medal of Honor, he saved the lives of every man on that transport.

Clarence:  Every man on that transport died!  Harry wasn’t there to save them, because you weren’t there to save Harry (when he broke through the ice).

Clarence goes on to tell George, “You’ve been given a great gift, George.  A chance to see what the world would be like without you.”

So this got me to thinking.

What would the world be like without libraries?

(sound of me thinking) Do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do


CLARA’S VOICE (that’s me – I’m Clara the Angel)

You sent for me sir?

FRANKLIN’S VOICE (He’s the Head of the Angels)

Yes, Clara, People on earth need our help.


Splendid!  Are they sick?


No, worse.  They are not appreciating their libraries.


Oh, dear, dear!  Their libraries!  Then I’ve only got an hour to dress.  What are they wearing now?  (I must be fashionable! – wink)


You will go to earth and show the people what the world would be like without libraries.


Sir…If I should accomplish this mission – I mean—might I perhaps be able to secure library funding in perpetuity?  I’ve been waiting for over two hundred years now, sir…


Clara, you do a good job showing the people how valuable their libraries are and you will get that funding.


Oh, thank you, sir.  Thank you.

The stars fade out from the screen, and a light, an indistinguishable blur is seen. The blur on the screen slowly begins to take form.  We see a group of young boys on top of a snow-covered hill. 


A group of boys is preparing to slide down the hill on large shovels.  One of them makes the slide and shoots out onto the ice of a frozen river at the bottom of the hill.

BOY: (as he slides down and reaches the bottom)

Yippee!  I can’t wait to get to the library and get the last book in the Raven Cycle series.  All the kids are reading that right now.

OTHER BOY: (shaking his head)

You idiot.  Don’t you read the papers?  All the libraries have closed.  Everyone took them for granted and they disappeared.

BOY: (crying) Oh, no.  My dad lost his job and said there is no money for anything extra.  How will I get that book?


Boy’s home


BOY’S DAD: (talking to his wife)

Sorry, honey.  I have been looking for a job for six months now and there just isn’t anything.  I had to cancel our Netflix, newspaper, Book of the Month, magazine and investments subscriptions.  And we can’t afford our Internet access anymore either.  But we can always go to the library for free DVDs and books and can read the magazines and newspapers there.  We can use their computers and I know they have investment materials too.

BOY’S MOTHER: (gently)

Oh, George, haven’t you heard?  There are no libraries anymore.

BOY’S DAD (let’s call him George.  I’m tired of typing “Boy’s Dad):

Oh, no.  I was taking their free computer classes to improve my computer skills to help me get that job. 

And the librarians were so helpful when I needed assistance filling out the online job application forms.  What am I going to do?

MILDRED: (the wife)

Well, at least we can go to Starbucks for internet access, can’t we?

GEORGE: (shaking his head)

I had to sell the laptop.


Remember the last time we were asked to vote to support the library and we thought it was too much?  Now that we have to buy our books, DVDS, subscriptions, Internet access, investment newsletters, and all of the other services the library provided, what will it cost us?

GEORGE: (looking miserable)

I can’t even contemplate it.


When I put it all together, what we would have to pay to get everything we were able to get at the library – all in one place – it was really a bargain.

I guess I will have to give up my genealogy research too.  I was using Ancestry and HeritageQuest at the library. They provided those databases for free.  Even if we had a computer and Internet access, we wouldn’t be able to afford our own subscription.  What will I do?  I had just found my ancestor from the Revolutionary War, Ezekiel Tufnell.




OTHER BOY (let’s call him Bill so I don’t have to type OTHER BOY all of the time) is sitting at the table with his mother, Mary, and his little 3-year-old sister, ZAZA. 


Mama, Mama, can’t wait to go to library to see Miss Susan and hear stowy.


Oh, Zaza, Mama is so sorry.  There is no library anymore and Miss Susan is gone.  She had to move away because people didn’t realize how important her story times were and how many children she was helping with the skills they needed to be successful in kindergarten.

Last I heard she was working in a diner in town.

ZAZA:  (crying) 

No stowy?


Mom, I need you to help me with my algebra tonight.

MARY:  (sighing)

Oh, Bill, you know I’m not good at math.  Can’t you use the Homework Help at the Lib…Oh, no….No more free Homework Help either.


And where will I go tomorrow after school when you are at work?  You know I always go there to get my homework done and use the computer. The teen librarian has some great programs on Wednesdays for teens too.


I’m sorry, Bill.  I, I, I just don’t know.  Let me think…


Oh why did I take my library for granted?



Several adults of all ages are sitting around a table.

ADULT #1: 

I am glad we can meet here for our book club now that the library is closed. 

I hear Maury and Angela won’t be joining us anymore because they can’t afford to buy the books.  I don’t think people realized what an asset the library was for people like us.  I’m a senior on a fixed income and going to the free programs at the library enriched my life immensely.  It also got me out of the house to meet my friends and other seniors.  I don’t know what I’m going to do now.

ADULT #2: 

I know. 

My cousin has his green card and was taking citizenship classes at the library.  Who knew? Those were the only free classes available.  Not sure what he will do if he has to pay someone.  He was also getting help with his English at one of their English as a Second Language classes.


I was going to the library to get help researching my book.  The librarians were really helpful with the computer and making sure I was getting accurate information.  I don’t know what I am going to do now.  And without libraries, I am sure book sales will suffer.  Libraries buy a lot of books!

ADULT #4: 

I didn’t really think about the library.  I just thought it would always be there.



An indistinguishable blur is seen. The blur fades to a starlit sky.


Strange, isn’t it?  Each library touches so many lives. 

When they aren’t around it leaves an awful hole, doesn’t it? 


I think you made your point, Clara.


CLOSE SHOT - Back to the presentZaza and her mother and father hearing a bell ringing on their Christmas tree.

ZAZA:  (pointing)

Look Mama.  Miss Susan, the children's librarian, says, every time a bell rings a library gets funding.


That’s right, that’s right.


I said it was a fairy tale. 

But it's not a fairy tale that...

Libraries change lives.

Change yours and have a wonderful life by using your library card and supporting your library this holiday season and into the
New Year! 

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends

See you here Friday for the Week in Reviews!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Holiday Carol...with apologies to Charles Dickens

Ebenezer Scrooge was in a bad mood as he headed to his office. He was always in a bad mood.

He encountered his nephew Fred.

Fred: Happy Holidays, Uncle! I’m off to the library!

Scrooge: Bah, Humbug! What right do you have to be happy? You’re poor enough. And what do you want with the library? What good is it to you?

Fred (laughing): And what right have you to be dismal, Uncle? You’re rich enough.

Scrooge: (grumbling) What else can I be, when I live in such a world of fools as this? Happy Holidays. What are the holidays but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer?

Fred: All the more reason to go to the library, Uncle. When times are hard, the library is a good place to go. I am getting some DVDs, which I can borrow for not a pence and I can use their computers to print out my holiday greetings. I am going out of town, so I am also going to check out some audio books to listen to on the plane. But join us for our holiday dinner. Good day, Uncle!

As Scrooge enters his business premises, two other people follow him in. They are portly gentlemen and stand with their hats off in Scrooge’s office.

Gentleman #1: Scrooge and Marley’s, I believe. Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge or Mr. Marley?

Scrooge: Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years. He died seven years ago this very night.

Gentleman #2: We are from the Friends of the Library and are asking for donations to fund our classes and programs. At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should have events and activities to benefit those in our community who are finding these economic times difficult and, who suffer greatly at the present time due to the bad economy. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries, hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts. Coming to the library is of great comfort to many.

Scrooge: Are there no prisons? And the workhouses? Are they still in operation?

Gentleman #1: (cautiously) Both very busy, sir.

Scrooge: Good. I was afraid from what you said that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course. I’m very glad to hear it.

Gentleman #2. But people would rather die than go there.

Scrooge: Then they should do it and decrease the surplus population.

Gentleman #1: (thinking Scrooge is joking): We choose this time of year because it is a time when Want is keenly felt. What shall we put you down for?”

Scrooge: Nothing.

Gentleman #2: (hopefully) You wish to remain anonymous?

Scrooge: I wish to be left alone. Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry during the holidays and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned – they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there. Who cares about libraries? Now leave my premises.

That evening, Scrooge takes his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy tavern and reads all the newspapers, and beguiles the rest of the evening with his banker’s book and then goes home to bed. He lives in chambers which had once belonged to his deceased partner, Jacob Marley. They are a gloomy suite of rooms that suit Scrooge’s personality.
As the candles flicker, Scrooge nods off to sleep --- only to be awakened by a clanking noise, as if some person were dragging a heavy chain. The door flies open and he beholds an apparition.

Scrooge: Who are you? What do you want with me?

Ghost: I am Marley’s ghost.

Scrooge: What? You’re not Jacob Marley.

Ghost: Jacob Marley? I thought they said Bob Marley.

Scrooge: Well my partner’s name was Jacob Marley.

Ghost: Whatever, mon. The message will be the same and here it is.

(reciting) It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellowmen and travel far and wide and if that spirit goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death. I wear the chain I forged in life. I never walked beyond our counting-house in life and never believed in the power of libraries. Seven years dead and travelling all the time. The whole time. No rest, no peace, incessant torture of remorse, because I spent all of that money on Netflix when I could have had DVDs for free or that I never learned how to use a computer because I didn’t know the library had free classes.

Scrooge: Huh?

Ghost: (shaking his head) Basically, mon, Marley didn’t live a very nice life, never helped anyone, lived only for himself and didn’t get it that libraries are life-changers and would have saved him all of that precious money he cared so much about. But you have a chance to change that. 

(getting back into character)

Scrooge, you will be haunted by Three Spirits. Without their visits you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first tomorrow when the bell tolls One.

And the spirit disappears. Scrooge feels a draft, shivers and closes the window. He examines the door by which the ghost had entered. It is double-locked and the bolts undisturbed.

Scrooge: Hum…

He stops after the first syllable, goes straight to bed and falls asleep upon the instant.
Suddenly, the curtains of his bed are drawn aside and Scrooge finds himself face to face with another ghost.

Scrooge: Are you the Spirit, sir, whose coming was foretold to me?

I am.

Scrooge: What and who are you?

Ghost: I am the Ghost of Years Past.

Scrooge: Long Past?

Ghost: Your past. Rise and walk with me.

All of a sudden in the blink of an eye, Scrooge and the spirit are standing outside looking up at a large brick building.

Scrooge: This was my boyhood library!

Ghost: You recollect the way?

Scrooge: Remember it, I could walk it blindfold.

They walk around the library, Scrooge recognizing his favorite childhood books.

Scrooge: The library is deserted

Ghost: The library is not quite deserted. A solitary child, neglected by his family, is left there still.

(The Spirit touches Scrooge on the arm and points to his younger self intent upon his reading.)

Suddenly they are surrounded by storybook characters: Curious George and The Wild Things from “Where the Wild Things Are.".

Scrooge: I had forgotten what a lonely boy I was and how the library was a place I went to escape that loneliness and the misery of my family. All of those lovely books. Without the library, I would have been miserable indeed. The library saved me.

A beautiful and glamorous librarian appears.

Librarian: Happy Holidays, Young Scrooge. Here is the last book in the Hunger Games series. I saved it for you.

Scrooge: (his face lighting up) She was always so welcoming and wonderful to me. She smashed the librarian stereotype. She never wore a bun or practical shoes and never shushed me. All of the library staff were welcoming and friendly people. And the place was so alive, full of people using the computers, attending the classes and events, gathering with their neighbors…

Ghost: A small matter, to make these silly folks so full of gratitude.

Scrooge: Small?

Ghost: (Looking at Scrooge sincerely) People spend but a few pounds of mortal money for library service. Is that so much that they deserve this praise?

Scrooge: It isn’t that…The happiness and help they give is quite as great as if it cost a fortune. Books and the teen programs at the library helped me through some sad and lonely times. And where else can you go to find information on all sides of a subject and not be judged? The library protects our rights to information and is the backbone of what makes this country great.
But somehow I lost my way.
Spirit…show me no more. Conduct me home. Why do you delight to torture me?

The spirit disappears under the door in a burst of light. Scrooge is overcome by drowsiness and barely has time to reel to bed before he sinks into a heavy sleep.

Scrooge jolts awake from a prodigious snore. A strange voice calls him by name. A light shines from an adjoining room. A woman who bids him enter.


I am the Ghost of the Present.

She is clothed in a green robe and jewels, but her nametag clearly indicates she is a librarian.

Ghost: You have never seen the like of me before.

Scrooge: No, actually I recognized you as a librarian right away. I am used to glamorous librarians.

Ghost: Touch my robe.

As Scrooge does so the room disappears and they stand in the threshold of Bob Cratchit’s dwelling. Bob Cratchit is Scrooge’s employee. Mrs. Cratchit is there dressed out but poorly in a twice-turned gown but brave in ribbons.
She is laying the table with her daughter and two smaller Cratchits are also there. Bob Cratchit appears with Little Tiny Tarquin on his shoulder. Bob is sad and Little Tiny Tarquin is crying.

Scrooge: Spirit, tell me what is wrong with Little Tiny Tarquin?

Ghost: You cut Bob Crachit’s hours and he was no longer able to keep up his car payments. They no longer have a car to get to the library and they can’t afford bus fare either because of the meager wages Bob receives. Little Tiny Tarquin worries that he will not do well in school if he doesn’t get to attend the Ready Reader story times at the library. He doesn’t want to start kindergarten without the same skills that other children will have. I see a vacant seat in the poor chimney corner. If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, the child will not succeed in kindergarten or in life.

Scrooge: No, no. Oh, no, Spirit, say he will be spared.

Ghost: Let him go to the prisons and the workhouses and decrease the surplus population.

Scrooge hangs his head when hearing his own words quoted by the Spirit.

Suddenly the bells toll and as the last stroke ceases to vibrate, Scrooge remembers the prediction of Bob Marley and lifting up his eyes, beholds a solemn Phantom, draped and hooded, coming like a mist along the ground towards him. It is shrouded in a dark garment, which conceals its head, its form and leaves nothing of it visible save its nose and one outstretched paw…er, hand.

Scrooge: Am I in the presence of the Ghost of What is Yet To Come?
You are about to show me shadows of the things that have not happened, but will happen in the time before us. Is that so, Spirit? Ghost of the Future, I fear you more than any specter I have seen. Will you not speak to me?

The Ghost remains silent and leads Scrooge through the darkened town. The Spirit stops beside one little knot of business men.

Man: No, I don’t know much about it, either way. I only know all of the libraries have been closed.

Man 2: When did they close? What happened? I thought they would be there forever.

Man: So did I. But no one supported them and they disappeared.

The spirit leads Scrooge to a dark building. The Phantom’s claw points to a sign.

Scrooge: Before I draw nearer to that sign to which you point, answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that WILL be or are they shadows of things that MAY be?

Scrooge creeps towards the sign, trembling as he goes; and following the pointing claw reads upon the sign


Scrooge: Oh, no, Spirit, no. Spirit, hear me. I am not the man I was. Why show me this, if I am past all hope? I will honor libraries in my heart and support them all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present and the Future. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on that sign.

Holding up his hands, Scrooge sees an alteration in the Phantom’s hood and dress. It shrinks, collapses and dwindles down into his bedpost.

Scrooge: They are not closed. They are here—I am here—the shadows of the things that would have been may be dispelled. They will be, I know they will.

Scrooge dresses and sets out to town. He has not gone far when coming on towards him he beholds the portly gentlemen from the Friends of the Library who had walked into his counting house the day before.

Scrooge: My dear sirs. How do you do? I hope you succeeded yesterday. If you please, accept this donation to the Friends of the Library. And I would love to support my library in any way possible.

Gentleman: I don’t know what to say about such munificence.

Scrooge: Don’t say anything please. Come and see me. I would like to be active in your group.

Scrooge then heads to his nephew, Fred's, home.

Scrooge: (knocking on Fred's door) Fred, Fred, let me in. I've come to watch the Dr. Who Holiday Special with you!

The next day, Scrooge is early to his office. If he could only be here first and catch Bob Cratchit coming late. That was the thing he had set his heart upon. And Bob was late.

Scrooge: (growling but hiding a grin) What do you mean by coming here at this time of day?

Bob: I am very sorry, sir. I am behind my time. It’s only once a year, sir. It shall not be repeated. I was making rather merry yesterday, sir.

Scrooge: Now, I’ll tell you what, my friend. I am not going to stand this sort of thing any longer…and therefore I am about to raise your salary! I will raise your salary and endeavor to assist your struggling family. I want to take Little Tiny Tarquin to the library. They have family story times that would be fun for all of us to go to. And we can take him to the Ready Reader story times so he can get ready for kindergarten. We want him to succeed, don’t we, Bob. And I want you to improve your computer skills. They have free classes.

Scrooge couldn’t stop talking about the library and he was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more.

He became a library champion!

He shared his enthusiasm with everyone he encountered. And he became a donor to the Library Foundation which supports library programs and services. 

And to Little Tiny Tarquin he was a second father. He enjoyed attending the Ready Reader story times with him. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh and little heeded them: for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset. His own heart laughed; and that was quite enough for him.

Scrooge had no further visits from Spirits but lived upon the principle that libraries mattered ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep the holidays well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. 

And so, as Little Tiny Tarquin observed,

Arf, Arf, Arf, Arf, Arf Arf!”

Happy Holidays everyone!

(I wrote this blog for Sno-Isle Libraries in 2011 and like to share it every year to remind us all how important libraries are to our quality of life).

Why not make a New Year's Resolution to support your local libraries?

See you Friday for the Week in Reviews
and more!

Thanks for reading!
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to share it and/or email it to your friends.