The Grump Who Stole Libraries

Posted On Dec 22 2006 by

Every librarian
Down in Dew-ey-ville
liked computers a lot…

But the Grump
Who lived just north of Dew-ey-ville,
Did NOT!

The grump hated computers! The whole campus network.
Now please don’t ask why. He could be quite a big jerk.
It could be his own system wasn’t running just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his earbuds were too tight.
But I think that the most most likely reason of all
May have been that his library was two sizes too small.

Whatever the reason,
His buds or his OPAC,
He stood there on ALA-eve, hating those in the bookstack.
Staring down from his office all sour and scary
At the computer-lit windows below in their ‘brary
For he knew every Dew in Dew-ey-ville below
Was busy with hacking that meme two-point-oh.

“And they’re fixing their systems,” he snarled with a sneer,
“A whole brand-new service! It’s practically here!”
Then he growled with his Grump fingers busily typing
“I’ll FLAME on a listserv. That will keep them from hyping!”

Tomorrow, he knew…

…All the Dew girls and boys
Would blog bright and early. They’d rush to their jobs
And then! Oh, the blogs! Oh, the blogs! blogs! blogs! blogs!
That’s the one thing he hated: the BLOGS! BLOGS! BLOGS! BLOGS!

Then the Dews, young (just the young), would sit down to a hackfest.
And they’d fest. And they’d Fest!
And they’d FEST!
They would fest on resolvers and metasearch tools
And the Grump would stay home and call them all fools!

They’d do something
he liked least of all!

Every librarian in Dew-ey-ville, the techie and not,
Would start working together, with MARC records loading.
They’d bang on their keyboards. The librarians would start coding!

They’d code! And they’d code!
And they’d CODE! CODE! CODE! CODE!
And the more the Grump thought of this brand-new Dew code,
The more the Grump thought, “I must make it explode!”
“Why for twenty-three years I’ve had this old system!
“I must stop the new one from coming
“I’ll find things it can’t do, and I’ll moan while I list ’em.”

Then he got an idea!
An awful idea!

“I know just what to do!” The Grump laughed at his lackeys
And he donned a blue shirt and some finely pressed khakis.
And he chuckled and clucked, “I look suave and slender!
With this smile and nametag, I look just like a vendor!”

“All I need are some screenshots…”
The Grump looked around.
But since he had no real product, there were none to be found.

Did that stop the old Grump…?
No! The Grump simply said,
“If I can’t find a product, I’ll fake one instead.”
So, he mocked up some websites that he labeled “three-oh.”
Then the Grump with his laptop was ready to demo.

So he scheduled a meeting. The Dews really love those.
And he stood near a screen in a Superman pose.
He 404ed only once, and with barely a glance,
He did the back-button “It won’t look like this” dance.

The Dews were just floored, “This thing does a lot.”
“How much?” The Grump grinned, “How much have you got?”

Then he slithered away, his CRM crammed with names.
He’d resold the old system without serials claims!
No blogging! No style sheets! No Greasemonkey scripts,
No newsfeeds, no tagging, no new quad-core chips!
Then he handed out cards, smiled, nodded, and winked,
Then the Grump left his homepage, completely unlinked.

Then he found that new server that hummed while he stood….
“Oh, I will,” he said slyly, “I’ll mess it up good.”

And the Grump grabbed the powerstrip, feeling much bolder.
When he heard the small snap of a ponytail holder.
He turned around fast to a large sysadmin
Big Bob of IT with the scruffy-faced grin.

The Grump had been caught by the Dew’s IT guy,
Who’d come to the server room to script more A.P.I.
He stared at the Grump and said “Grumpy guy, why?”
“Why are you touching my servers, dude, WHY?”

But, you know, that old Grump was so smart and so slick
He could talk sysadmin–grep, vi, and joystick.
“Why, Bob, my good man,” he could lie well of late,
“This system has scripts that won’t interoperate.
“So I’m taking it back ’til the standards are clear.
“I’ll fix it up there. Then I’ll FedEx it back here.”

And his fib fooled the Bob who knew Linux and sed
but had no love of apps, which he installed with dread.
And when Bob left for smokes, his shirt-tail hanging out,
The Grump grabbed up the power and yanked it right out.

It was one month to Midwinter
All the Dews at the Desk
Serving “clients” with fervor
When he packed up his backpack
To hide that new server.
Packed up the cool tools. The Apache! The Tomcat!
MYSQL! Ruby! PHP! Online Chat!

Three hundred feet up to the 19th-floor tower
He carried his load to the top, looking dour.
“Pooh-pooh to the Dews,” the Grump now was smiling.
“They’re finding out now that no code is compiling!
“They’re manning the Desk! I know just what they’ll do.
“Their searches will hang for a minute or two.
Then the Dews in Dew-ey-ville will all cry BOO-HOO!”

“That’s a noise,” grinned the Grump,
“That I simply MUST hear!”
So he paused. And the Grump put a hand to his ear.
And he did hear a sound rising over kid’s ringtones
It started in low but it wasn’t refdesk groans.

But the sound wasn’t sad!
Why this sound sounded busy!
It couldn’t be so,
It put the Grump in a tizzy.

He stared down at the ‘brary.
The Grump’s ulcer grew.
Then he shook.
What he saw was something quite new.

Every Dew down in Dew-ey-ville, the techie and not,
Was working, quite hard, despite their new lot.
He HADN’T killed the library,
With some footwork and thinking, it came just the same!

And the Grump, with his eyes crossed in self-righteous glow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?
“It came without Java! It came without stats!
“It came without perl scripts, and searches with splats!”
And he puzzled through breaktime, ’til his puzzler was sore,
Then the Grump thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe libraries don’t come from a computer store.
“Maybe libraries…perhaps…mean a little bit more.”

And what happened then…?
Well in Dew-ey-ville they say
That the Grump’s small library
Grew three sizes that day!

And the minute his library didn’t feel quite so small,
He whizzed down the stairs, servers, software, and all
And he brought back the code from his ivory perch
And he…
The Grump typed the first search!


[This post originally appeared as part of American Libraries’ Hectic Pace Blog and is archived here.]

Last Updated on: January 19th, 2024 at 12:22 am, by Andrew K. Pace

Written by Andrew K. Pace

8 responses to “The Grump Who Stole Libraries

  1. Andrew, I’m thoroughly impressed! (Hah! I bet you didn’t get a peep from old Bob!)

    Feliz Navidad Mr. Libraryland Grump!
    Now put on your hat and sit on your rump,
    listen to me, don’t be a big hater
    soon you’ll learn, well… maybe a bit later.

  2. Two snaps up with a twist! Next year’s follow-up should be the Grump Song…

    [singing in baritone]
    You’re a mean one, Mr. Grump
    You really are a fool–
    Your I.T. sensibility’s so Windows95, Mr. Gru-u-UMP!
    The phrase which best describes you would be IM’d by my kids:

  3. “How Andrew made my Christmas”. Just picked myself off the floor. I have tears in my eyes from laughing. Thank you so much for this.

  4. Wonderful! Would love to see a live performance — maybe at the Kansas Tri-Conference!

  5. That was pretty inspired — especially the part about Bob. Destined to become a classic.

  6. Great stuff! I found it a little late, maybe, but I’m STILL putting it up on our very own ‘brary staff bathroom: “wall of funnies!”