Holly Jahangiri (the real one) became a character when she won the right twice in contests for the “privilege.” The fictional Holly is Head Librarian of a Living Library (think Fahrenheit 451) on the planet Llannonn, the principal setting of my currently out-of-print sf/cop/farce, FORCE OF HABIT.
A Day In The Sun
by Marian Allen
Hot-Time Reading Program. Words that can wear a librarian out, just thinking about them.
For a Head Librarian of a Living Library like Holly Jahangiri, the ordeal was even worse. Like the Head Librarians of traditional libraries, she had to round up donations of prizes for hundreds of kids, design and print some kind of accountability and prize-receipt document for each child to use (or lose, or smash bugs with, or whatever). Unlike traditional Librarians, she had to soothe the hurt feelings of books the prize-oriented children passed over because they were “took too long to listen to.” She had to make sure the popular books got enough of a break between patrons – a Living Book with laryngitis did nobody any good.
And there was the feud. With the rising popularity of Living Libraries, traditional libraries had seen their usage numbers go down, especially during the Hot-Time Reading Program. They had petitioned the Grand Council to shut Living Libraries down over the Hot-Time, a petition that had been signed by more than a few Living Books, who liked the thought of Hot-Times off. When the Grand Council rejected the petition – partly because of Holly’s impassioned defense of reading in all forms and the disservice the closing would do to those unable to read traditional literature. Her final argument, “It’s far easier to hand a Living Book a bar of soap and a towel than to disinfect a printed book page by page,” had won over even her opponents.
Still, the feud had smoldered on, causing some difficulty with the seating arrangements at the annual Librarian Appreciation Day banquets held all over Llannonn on the Nth day of Sqellop.
Then Holly, with her VCPF (Very Close Personal Friend) District Criminal Investigator Pel Darzin acting as intermediary, had hit upon the idea of the twofer. A child could only check out a Living Book by presenting the print version of that book from a traditional library. The Living Book would have the child read the print copy aloud, with the Living Book bringing the text to life by repeating it and acting it out. The result was better, more enthusiastic readers, and more than a few starry-eyed youngsters who wanted to be Books when they grew up.
The Living Library would be closed for a week, giving the Books as well as the Librarian a much-needed rest. Holly was heading for her mother’s brother’s cottage by the Squamous Sea, her usual refuge at this time of year.
As always, various Books had spent the last month hinting for an invitation.
“You’ll want to take something good to read,” one would say. Another would say, “There’s nothing like curling up with a good book after a day on the water.” A third would remind her, “You said it rained the whole time last year. Perfect weather for reading.”
Holly refused the hints and the downright outright suggestions of books who wanted to accompany her. Talk about hurt feelings! Anyone she chose would swan around, lording it over the others, and she just couldn’t face the drama after the long, hot Hot-Time that had just passed.
She was no coward – she was, after all, a Librarian – but she took the coward’s way out. Claiming she might just stay home this year, she packed in secret, not even letting Parlormaid Tambar Miznalia see her preparations. She puttered around in the garden on the first day the Library was closed.
On the second day, she rose before dawn and slipped out of the Library, her small suitcase held tightly to prevent its bumping against a wall. She eased into the driver’s seat of her pedicar. The Squamous Sea was quite a way to pedal, but she didn’t want to take the chance of the hovercar’s whine waking anybody.
By the time the sun shone through the windshield, she was well on her way. She was free! She laughed in delight.
A giggle from the back seat froze her blood. A young woman, hair tousled and eyes still sleepy, sat up.
“I must’ve dropped off! That was fun! Are we very far along?”
Nancy Drew in The Bungalow Mystery!
“How did you know? I thought I covered my tracks!”
Nancy Drew in The Bungalow Mystery chuckled. “People may change their characters, but not their habits. You always buy a new swimsuit from Grumpman’s for your getaway. You said you weren’t going away this year, but you came back from an outing carrying a shopping bag from Grumpman’s. So I did a little snooping and found a brand new bottle of sunscreen, too.”
“Meaning you sneaked into my room and poked around.”
“Well … yes. By the way, you’ll look smashing in that purple feather bikini.”
“Hmph! Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Nancy Drew in The Bungalow Mystery adjusted the perky scarf tied around her neck. “This will be fun! And who knows? We may even scare up a mystery!”
Holly wondered if she’d wreck the car if she beat her head against the steering wheel while driving.
MY PROMPTS TODAY: Coppertone sun screen, Holly Jahangiri, FORCE OF HABIT
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