Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Don't Taunt the Patrons

We had three boxes of new books come in last week. These represented book orders from three different libraries, not to mention personal orders for various board members and staff. Mrs. C told me that my copy of Fantagraphics Books' new The Complete Peanuts, Vol I, was among the new books but that I couldn't have it unless I opened the boxes and sorted all the orders. No problemo. I'm all about opening boxes, especially when there's a prize for me at that bottom. I started ripping cardboard.

When I'd finished I had several stacks of books sorted by owner and my nice fat Peanuts volume. A few patrons happened by during this and looked over the titles in my stacks with wanton desire in their eyes. Too bad for them. Not a one of these books is gonna hit the new books shelf for quite a while cause we can't catalog shite until our new computer system is live and in full working order. So patrons will have to wait a while before getting their hands on the new Laurie King mystery or the new Tom Clancy non-fiction. And from the rumors we've been hearing, the wait may be even longer as the program may not go live as soon as we'd been lead to believe due to unforeseen problems.

Meanwhile, my Peanuts book is fantastic. It collects all of Charles Schulz's Peanuts strips from 1950-1952. For those of you who've never seen any of those strips, the characters are practically unrecognizable from their later incarnations. Oh, you can spot Charlie Brown and Snoopy, but they look more like a bald Calvin with a much more beagle-like dog instead of Hobbes. Long lost characters such as Shermy, Violet and a decidedly more lady-like Patty (sans the Peppermint and long-suspected "partner" Marcy) help fill out the cast. Schroeder has made an appearance, but as an infant. Later in the book they discover him to be a piano prodigy with a Beethoven bust fetish. Lucy and Linus also make their debuts, however Linus is an infant as well rather than Charlie Brown's peer.

The strips are just brilliant, though. I've always regarded Charles Schulz as one of the true greats in the business, but I can definitely see why the respect is due him. Looking at these strips from a modern perspective, you can see the wide ranging influence he's had over our culture in so many ways. He was the first to do strips of this nature, that reflected a more jaded-yet-still-optomistic look at society. Now everybody does that sort of thing, but Good Ol' Sparky Schulz paved that dirt road a long time ago. I'm looking forward to collecting the complete series of reprints that Fantagraphics is doing. Any librarians listening might wanna order this for their collections too.

This is a high-quality hardback collection, with amazing graphic design and a lot of thought behind it. At $28.95, it's a pricey book to buy... that is, unless you have "liberry" connections and can get it for damn near half-price through Baker & Taylor, like me.

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An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.