Short Story: Misdirection

If you’re ever looking for the most subversive people in any given room, you could do far worse than to take a look at your librarians. You could be forgiven for thinking of them as slightly fluffy guardians of silence and study. You would be wrong. All that knowledge seeps into minds trained to observe and catalogue and consider the objects around them. They also deal with the unruly public on a daily basis. To them, the word public has the same connotation as the word civilian to military personnel. You can’t expect them to quite react like everyone else after that.

The mutinous room of people in front of me all seemed to have a competition going on for who could do the best analytical scowl. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be concerned, which should tell you everything you need to know about my sense of humour. I’d just done the most foolhardy thing i could imagine: telling a building full of librarians that people were coming to take their books away. I didn’t mean it in a “we’re cutting your budgets again” way either.

We were on the fourteenth day of the seige. Some idiot had concocted a virulent memetic attack on the concept and value of book-learning which had leapt from sub-Reddit to Tumblr post, from message board to Facebook, Twitter to Snapchat and on in echoing rambling iterations. Whoever had crafted it had quite possibly set off a new Dark Age – and libraries were suddenly on the front line of a war.

The advantage, as the librarians put it, was that people had never read signs and notices before everything kicked off anyway, so they certainly weren’t paying attention now. It did at least make intelligence-sharing simpler, even if not actually more secure. Passwords and locations of keys for supplies could be left in plain sight with a reasonable assurance that no one would read them.

Relocating the stock and replacing it with adult colouring books turned out to be the best solution in the end. The rampaging hordes were pacified with mindfulness exercises and boxes of crayons when they broke through the doors. Business suddenly had never been better. Meanwhile, the treasures of the librarians, spirited away in the depths of the night, entered into legend.