With DVD sales flat as more consumers download pirated versions of films from the internet, the entertainment industry has one surprise success on its hands--a collection of security camera videos of librarians attacking patrons in high school reading rooms.
"Being a librarian is a very frustrating, low-paying job," says producer Toby Hudspeth, whose film bypassed theatrical release with a "direct-to-video" marketing strategy. "It's immensely entertaining to watch these strait-laced types go after somebody like a shark after chum."
Miss Elizabeth Jane Grey, a junior high school librarian in a small town in Arkansas, is captured on tape berating a freshman honor roll student for using a highlighter on a copy of Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage". "A book is your friend," she is heard screaming on the grainy videotape. "You wouldn't use a highlighter on a friend--don't use one on a book!"
The student is reduced to tears and in footage shot a week later has broken out in acne, rendering him reluctant to ask Mary Beth Ohlrich, a stunning blonde cheerleader, to the school's annual "Spring Fling!" dance.
The American Librarian's Association issued a press release declaring the film's "subtext of sexual repression" to be a "parody of a burlesque of a farce." "Most of our members are married, some of them happily," said ALA spokeswoman Judith Gaines. "Or have been at one time or another. Or know somebody who is."
Education administrators say the breakdown in student decorum is leading to more frequent and more violent librarian-on-student attacks in school libraries. "It used to be that 'Shhh' meant 'Shhh'," said Earl Bucholz, Assistant Principal at Smith-Cotton High School in Sedalia, Missouri. Now, it's more like 'Time to think about being quiet as soon as I feel like it, you old biddy.'"
Fish and game wardens say librarians are unlikely to attack unless provoked, although they may view late returns of books as a threat. "If your book is overdue you should approach librarians with caution, holding the volume out at arm's length with your hands palm down to show that you are not an aggressor," says Billy Ray Lyman of the Missouri Department of Wildlife. "And don't show fear--librarians can sense when you don't have the two cents a day fine, and they will go for the jugular."
Copyright 2006, Con Chapman