Miskatonic University Press

Moodie's Tale


Somebody said we need a Moo for libraries. We still do. But I just read Moodie’s Tale by Eric Wright and I think it’s the Moo of Canadian academia. I don’t know Susanna Moodie or The Canterbury Tales so I think I’m missing a fair bit, but I still enjoyed it very much.

There are a few mentions of libraries, like this:

“Here’s an example,” the president continued. “I propose that henceforth you fellows be called ‘deans.’ Most places have deans nowadays. Sound the others out to see if there’s a problem. Now what else? What else does a college have? A proper college.”

“A library?”

“We’ve got one of sorts, haven’t we? In the corner room of the Drug Mart.”

“Just a few shelves, Gravely. Not many of the faculty know about it. It ought to have some standard reference works. Encyclopedias, that kind of thing.”

“We can afford a couple of thousand from the cleaning budget. Draw up a list. But now you’ve mentioned it, what is the real mark of a library?”

“Other than books?”

“Yes. What else?”

“A copying machine?”

“What else?”

It was important to guess right. Cunningham was getting impatient. “I am not sure of your emphasis, Gravely,” he hedged.

“Emphasis? How do you know it is a library?”

“The sign on the door?”

“Exactly. The label, William, the label. Get a sign made. And what do people find inside the door?”

“The librarian?”

“Now you’re on to it. Apart from the sign, the cheapest thing in the library is the librarian, especially since they aren’t unionized. We could put anyone in and call him the librarian. Now who have we got?”


Beckett was a religious maniac, a clerk in the maintenance department who spent his hours walking the streets with a billboard, warning of the end. His fellow workers complained constantly of his proselytizing in the storeroom.

“Perfect. He’s a bit more eccentric than most librarians, I suppose, but he’ll do. Is he conscientious?”

“It’s the other thing his colleagues dislike about him.”

“Done, then.”