What’s happening at the Library

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, October 12, 2021

By John Maruskin

Halloween’s on the horizon, so ghost and supernatural horror stories are trending at the Library. That’s fine with CCPL’s Scary Librarian, James Gardener. He loves to read horror stories. He writes horror stories. He orders horror stories for the Library’s collection. During October, James will read four of his own short ghost stories on the Library’s Facebook page.

The stories are: “Just what you’re looking for (featuring the Old Librarian and the vampire book); Watch Out for Late Returns; “A Poetry Reading” (featuring the poem that drives people insane); and, “Never Read the Spell Books Out Loud.” As you can see, all the stories deal with libraries and reading. After all, dead authors’ books are their ghosts.

James’ performances will be suitable for the whole family, So gather round the screen with your favorite hot pumpkin spice beverages and share the spook-tacle. Just go to the Library’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/clarkbooks, and scroll down the news feed or, click on the “More” tab at the top of the Facebook page and select “Videos,”

On Tuesday, October 25, this column will contain another new scary story by James, “The Tale of Johnny Evilseed,” in which a scarecrow is brought to life to leave people scary books and movies. Outcreep Services.

James has published in short story anthologies. The Library has those books: The Devil’s Hour: 17 Truly Horrifying Tales to Keep You Up at Night (Fantastic F Devi), Schlock! Horror!: An Anthology (Fantastic F Schl), and Song Stories: Dark Side of the Moon (Fantastic F Song).

If you like your horror with extra cheeeezzze, James recommends, Tales from the Crust : an Anthology of Pizza Horror / edited by David James Keaton & Max Booth III (call # Fantastic F Tale).

Now, October stories aren’t necessarily supernatural or horrifying.

On October 3, 1958, a Lamda Chi Alpha fraternity pledge named Oliver R. Smoot, became a “non-standard, humorous unit of measure” when he was used by his fraternity brothers to measure the length of Harvard Bridge. Smoot was chosen to be the unit of measure because he was the shortest pledge, 5’ 7”, and because he had the most scientific sounding name.

The Harvard Bridge turned out to be 364.4 Smoots long. After laying down and getting up over 100 times, Oliver Smoot got tired, so his fraternity brother simply hoisted him up and laid him back down for the rest of the measurements.

Oliver Smoot graduated from MIT in 1962, became a lawyer, and later was chairman of the American National Standards Institute and then, president of the International Organization for Standardization. Obviously, he “measured up” to the work.

In 2011, “smoot” was added to the fifth edition of the American Heritage Dictionary.

The “Smoot” is not the only non-standard, humorous measurement. Check the Wikipedia article “List of humorous units of measurement” to be amazed and amused by measurements like “The Sheppey” (familiar to readers of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide; units of time like “The Onosecond”; and non-standard, non-conventional units of all kinds of stuff like “Bogosity.”

Libraries for life-long learning, you know. And laughing. Have a swell week.