The Librarian (long version)

Library of books

Picture copyright: Claire Fuller

Roger Compton, the County’s Digital Archivist, started work on Monday thinking the Librarian would be a big help.

She even made him tea.

But thereafter she sat behind her desk. Watching. Like a scientist observing a new species.

Which in a sense I am, thought Roger, as he set up the equipment which would digitise the entire collection.  The place was a museum. Archaic. Even the air conditioning didn’t work.

“Could we open a window?” he asked, as sweat prickled through the back of his shirt.

“It’s bad for the books.”

Her voice was as dry as the air in here. That cup of herbal tea seemed a long time ago.

The sooner they’re all digitised the better, Roger thought, imagining dust from a hundred crumbling books spiralling into his lungs.

Climbing the ladder once more, he reached for ‘Life of Josiah Winscott – A History in Ale Houses’.

And he felt the ladder move.

A jolt of panic.

His fingers scrabbled for purchase, but grasped instead Josiah‘s leather-bound volume.

And Roger fell.

Titles blurred before him; their leather spines jostling like commuters on a train.

“Help me….” he gasped, as darkness suffused his vision.

The Librarian stared.

Such a noisy man, she thought, and waited as the tea took full effect.

Later, she placed ‘Josiah Winscott’ back on his shelf, leather binding a little battered from the fall, before flicking through ‘Roger Compton – My Life in Books’.

Not a bad read, the Librarian admitted.

Then filed him in ‘New Arrivals’.