Following the recommendation of our good friends Porteiro and Beverly, Brinestone and I have recently started watching Battlestar Galactica on DVD, and it has turned out to be a rather addictive show. Thankfully, the Salt Lake County Library System has all the DVDs, so we’ve been able to feed our addiction. But on Friday, we finished off an entire disc and didn’t have the next one yet, so we drove to the closest library that had one checked in, the East Millcreek branch. When we got there, I said, “Hey, I’ve been here before.” Brinestone responded, “Oh, yeah, that’s right, ’cause you’re Super Library Guy.”
Yes, friends, that’s right: you may know me as the Amazing Squirrel Boy, but probably none of you are familiar with my alter alter ego, Super Library Guy. You seee, I’ve always been a big fan of the library. My mom often took us to the Mesa City Library when we were little, and once we moved up to Salt Lake Valley, we would usually go to the Salt Lake County Library (or rather, one of its branches) two or three times a month. (Coincidentally, one of the most traumatic experiences of my childhood was when my mom spontaneously refused to take me to the library for several weeks straight. Turns out that my parents were getting me the boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia for Christmas and didn’t want me to finish the series before then.)
So when I was a senior in high school and saw that the Salt Lake County Library System board of directors was looking for youth representatives, I jumped at the chance to apply (yes, I really was—and still am—that big of a nerd). Several months went by before I finally heard back that I had been accepted. I got a packet in the mail with the meeting agenda, time, and location (the board meeting is held at a different branch each month).
I showed up to the meeting very excited, of course, and met the other youth representative, the whole board, and Mark Shurtleff, who was then a county commissioner and is now state attorney general. I found out pretty quickly, though, that being selected didn’t make me particularly special after all: only three youth had applied, and one of them had not met the minimum age requirements, so they accepted the only two applicants possible. I suppose, though, that the mere fact that we wanted to be on the board made us more qualified than anyone else. I was also informed, however, that we were ad hoc members and had no voting privileges.
But no matter—once a month I got a behind-the-scenes look at how the county library system worked. And what’s more, there was always a free catered lunch (it was the same thing every time—meat and cheese platter, rolls, condiments, bagged chips, cans of soda, and brownies—but that was fine by me). At the very least I’d still get to put in my two cents on things, and I’ve have something nifty to put on my resume.
Turns out that there wasn’t even much action in the two-cents department. My first time there the board was talking about starting to buy DVDs (keep in mind that this was 1999), and they asked our opinion. They already knew that there was increasing demand, so I’m not sure my “Yeah, I think it’s a great idea” really swayed them much, but hey, it was something.
That was about the last time they asked either of us youth representatives anything important, though. For the rest of the time we just kind of sat there, ate our free lunch, and listened to the board talk about real estate purchases, capital improvements, and budget considerations. I got to be present when a statue was dedicated at the Sandy branch, and someone from The Deseret News was there, but I don’t know if my photo even made it into the paper.
At some point the other youth representative moved or left for college or something, and they didn’t bother to replace her. Strangely, they kept me on past my one-year appointment, even though I was completely useless. More than once the director of the board said they would try to find something for me to do to make me useful, and more than once I asked him if they had anything for me to do, but nothing ever happened. I was always just a spectator.
And then, one month, they didn’t send me a meeting agenda. And they didn’t send one the next month, either, or the month after that. That was apparently how they decided to let me know that I was being released from my service. I had always thought of the library as a wonderful public institution, but little did I know that it was being run by passive-aggressive weasels.
And that, my friends, is the tragic tale of the superhero once known as Super Library Guy.