I had a small break yesterday, dear Reader, so I set off for the library.*
Oh, what happy memories I have of the library! How many hours I have spent there browsing the oversize atlases and lingering in the popular science section, before selecting my favourite seat next to a bay window overlooking a grove of two-hundred year-old chestnut trees.
But as I passed through the library’s revolving doors I knew something was wrong.
Students sprawled in beanbags and space pods around coffee tables. Signs hung overhead bearing the words ‘Break-out Zone’ in lime and orange. The special reserve collection, once occupying two thirds of the ground floor, now consisted of six tightly-packed shelves of DVDs. There was a high-pitched buzzing noise coming from outside.
Before I could investigate further I saw Susan, Chief Librarian, striding towards me.
‘Welcome to the Nexus, Dr Lamb!’, she boomed.
‘What’s happened to the library?’, I whispered.
Susan let out a guffaw.
‘Oh, we don’t use that word any more’, she said.
‘What word?’, I whispered.
‘Library’, she bellowed, instantly clapping her hand over her mouth and shooting a quick look at a passing weeping librarian nexus consultant on his way to serve a student a latte and blueberry muffin.
‘Library?’, I whispered.
‘So!’, she continued. ‘I suppose you’re here to agree the books. Follow me!’
I followed her, dear Reader.
Susan led me outside. As we stood beside a number of skips beneath the new sign reading ‘Vice-Chancellor’s Information Nexus’ I realised that the buzzing sound was that of a chainsaw, being wielded by a man in a day-glo tunic in the uppermost branches of a chestnut tree.
‘Ah yes, this one’s Runic Studies’, she trilled, lifting the skip’s lid to reveal, on the top of the pile, my own thirty-volume Syllabic Dictionary of Runes.
‘Isn’t it wonderful?’, said Susan. ‘At last we’re dispensing with outmoded information delivery systems and cutting down all the trees to make room for the shopping mall. What’s more the sawdust will be used to make commemorative paperweights. Now, I just need your signature here.’
‘Why, certainly’, I said, glancing skywards as I gently but firmly manoeuvred Susan into position. ‘Where do I sign, my dear?’**
*In between choosing a suitably sombre font for poor Peter‘s Gedenkschrift, attending poor Penny‘s memorial drinks party at the offices of the Daily Wind Instrument (where I allowed poor Carnelyan to show me his photos of himself and young Jaspyr on last year’s family skiing holiday), writing absentee letters for poor Maureen and poor Ethel, shaking the ashes from poor Jenny‘s lank locks, and sweeping the autumn leaves from the patio. Let no one say I do not earn my keep.
**I gather that the opening of the Vice-Chancellor’s Information Nexus has been postponed and that the skips were emptied overnight after an anonymous email tipoff to all staff.