Bluff The Listener Our panelists tell us three stories of libraries adapting to these modern times.
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Bluff The Listener

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Bluff The Listener

Bluff The Listener

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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From NPR and Chicago Public Radio, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Roy Blount Jr., Amy Dickinson and Paula Poundstone. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl. Thank you so much.


SAGAL: Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME Bluff the Listener game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

M: Hi, this Caitlin from Arlington, Virginia.

SAGAL: Hey, Caitlin, how are you?

M: Very good, and how are you?

SAGAL: I am all right. What's going on there in Arlington?

M: Oh, not much, just waiting out the traffic.

SAGAL: Is that what you do in Arlington, just sit there in traffic and wait to get somewhere finally?

M: I mean, only eight hours a day.

SAGAL: That's not a problem. Well, welcome to the show, Caitlin. You're going to play the game in which you must tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Caitlin's topic?

KASELL: Shush.


SAGAL: These are tough times for libraries, what with the e-readers, the video games and our brains turning to soft, gray pudding. But some libraries are not going to go quietly. This week, we read about a library that decided to do what it must do to stick around. Our panelists are going to tell you three stories of libraries fighting for survival. Choose the true story, you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine or voicemail. Ready to play?

M: I'm ready.

SAGAL: All right, first let's hear from Roy Blount Jr.

M: The job Holden Caulfield wanted was "Catcher in the Rye," standing next to a cliff to keep kids playing in the grass from falling over. Isn't that sweet? The job I want is a new job, a job so far available only in England. The Norfolk County Council over there created this job, we learned this week, because the local library was plagued by schoolchildren running about, screaming and shouting. The job: library bouncer.


M: Oh man, it might not look good on my resume, library bouncer, and it might not pay so well, but I could so get into it. This is a damn library! Is there no place in this land where a person can sit quietly and read? Get that shouting and screaming out of here, I would say on my bullhorn - and then I would Tase 'em.



SAGAL: Bouncers to keep the children in line at a library in England. Next up, let's hear from Amy Dickinson.

M: The tiny Lincoln Library in Sioux Falls, Iowa, knew it was in trouble when its DVD rental collection routinely outperformed their book lending.

And so staff members came up with a literary idea to try to draw the public back into the stacks. The plan was for librarians to pair a favorite book with its corresponding cocktail. Ideas included pairing Jane Austen with Old Fashioneds, Mai Tais with Michener, Bloody Marys with "Dracula" - and, of course, the novel "Deliverance" would go along with Boone's Farm.


M: Last month's kickoff event got off to a raucous start with Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast." To honor the author's hard-drinking habits, they paired the book with shots of absinthe. Library patrons went a little crazy. Some merely got drunk, but others started hallucinating and running amok. Librarian Clara Gallagher looked on in horror. They went after the card catalog. It was like that scene in "Ghostbusters," with cards flying everywhere. Other people were making out over there in Reference. There were a couple of fistfights in the children's corner. The librarians got the mess cleaned up and put back together just in time for next month's event: Ken Kesey's moonshine night.


SAGAL: Literary themed cocktail nights...

M: I like that one.

SAGAL: a library in Sioux Falls. That does sound like fun. Your last story of a library trying to change with the times comes from Paula Poundstone.

M: To avoid losing their librarians during these difficult economic times and budget cuts, in Homestead, Pennsylvania, library lovers have provided free room and board to their beloved librarians.

The campaign - titled, Save a Librarian, We Saved Whales, We Can do This - has so far been quite a hit, says librarian host Chris McCraw(ph). We were nervous at first to save a librarian. We weren't sure what they would eat. I mean, they're so well-informed. If you're-well informed, there's nothing you can eat, really.

And we were a bit ashamed that our books weren't well-organized. No, they were, honey, interrupts his wife, Renee, they just weren't alphabetized. I did them by size. The librarian we kept was wonderful, crows librarian host Susan Swamu(ph). A bit messy in the kitchen, but reading time was awesome. She had my preschooler reading well beyond her age level. Within weeks, she went from "Hop on Pop" to "Portnoy's Complaint."


SAGAL: Librarians move in with happy patrons. Let's review your choices.

M: OK.

SAGAL: From Roy Blount Jr., the story of a library bouncer, somebody hired to keep those unruly children in line. From Amy, cocktail evenings themed with books get a little out of hand. And from Paula Poundstone, to save the librarians, people take them into their homes, where their books get organized and their children get read to. Which of these is the real story of libraries trying to make it after all?

M: I'm very tempted to go with number two, the books with the cocktails.

SAGAL: Right.

M: But...

SAGAL: But...

M: OK, I'm leaning towards story number one.

SAGAL: You're leaning toward Roy's story.

M: Librarian bouncer.

SAGAL: All right, is that the one you're going to choose?

KASELL: That's my final answer.

SAGAL: That's your final answer. All right, you've chosen Roy's story of the bouncer librarian. Well, we spoke to an expert about libraries to bring you the right answer.

M: I think it makes perfect sense to have bouncers in the libraries. The majority of kids are great, but a few bad apples can ruin everybody's experience, and they ought to be tossed.


SAGAL: That was Sally Reed. She's division director at the American Library Association. Congratulations, Caitlin, you got it right. You earned a point for Roy Blunt Jr. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record your outgoing voicemail, answering machine message, whatever you like. Well done.

M: Awesome. Thank you.

SAGAL: It's great. Thank you so much.

M: All right, bye-bye.

SAGAL: Bye-bye.


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