Librarians Think Outside the Box

Windsor Library, Barnhart, Missouri

Be silent. Move quietly past other readers in the narrow bookshelf aisles. Speak in whispers. You might hear a librarian chasten a noisy patron with a “Shush”, but not today. Curiosity drove me to investigate the breaking of this rule.

Running late and driving at a pretty good clip, I was on my way to the library when another Nugget abruptly appeared. I was happy, even thrilled – but should I stop? I passed them, vacillating. Accepting my luck, I embraced the gift and returned to a large group of people on the side of the road standing close under rock cliffs. We are warned not to venture near these rock faces as sections can unleash themselves and anyone standing beneath can be badly injured.

Missouri Geologists

So, why would this group risk this possibility? I was convinced they are “Rockers”, my term for geologists (geologist sounds so stuffy, don’t you think?). And I was right. It was the Association of Missouri Geologists Annual Field Trip. Their banquet had been the night before. They had come from throughout the state:  Kansas City, Columbia, Springfield, Rolla, Farmington and other cities. Today they were examining the mineralogy and geology of the area, finding fossils, and studying the stratigraphy of the cliffs (the study of rock strata to include the distribution, deposition and age).

Geologists Enjoying Their Day

I had been blessed with coming upon these people on the one day a year, in the one segment of an hour in a year that they would appear in this location. How can anyone describe my luck? I catch these Life Nuggets every time I venture out. Every day is an adventure.

The “Rockers” are surprisingly gregarious and down-to-earth (so to speak) and were bursting with knowledge they wanted to share. In spitfire action I was asked, “Do you know what Blood Alley is along Highway 21 and why it isn’t called that anymore?” “And why is the area at Highway MM no longer called Death Valley?” And George regaled me with rock humor and proved to me how he could “rock my world” with his one-liners.

It was exciting to spend this very brief time with them. Their leader gave me his personal copy of their colorfully bound anniversary booklet and we exchanged contact information. I made new “friends” and expect to be invited to next year’s celebrations where I will have the time to learn the answers to their questions and much, much more.

Too soon, I moved on to my target for the day. Think of the last time you entered a library. What was the atmosphere? Did you see serious people reading, researching, studying? And what did you hear? Some pages shuffling in the predominate silence?

When I passed through the Windsor Library doors today I heard . . . music. A band was playing. Yes, a band. Speakers were amplifying the notes filling the air. In a library? Who could pull that off? Who else but CT and the Retirees! Yes, they sure get around Jefferson County and show up in some of the most unlikely places.

This performance was not after hours as I supposed it would be. No. They were entertaining a group of people sitting in chairs right in the middle of the main aisle in front of the librarian’s desk during normal hours of operation. It was a bit incongruous as you might imagine. The audience felt it, too. Where they would have otherwise exchanged a few words between friends, sang along with the tunes and danced, they sat rather rigid and silent, as if students in a classroom. After all, old habits of respect are hard to break and libraries resemble a schoolroom. The audience discreetly tapped their toes and lip-synced to the tunes. They only let some energy out when they applauded.

Packed in the Main Aisle

The musicians have a gentle persona and their tunes are not stridently offensive. Their presentation style is appropriate for a library. Regular patrons read books, used computers and conducted their usual routines without being disturbed by the old time country, ballads, Delta blues and Bluegrass tunes.

Marty and CT

It seems all entertainers push and strive and sweat to prove to the audience they are great performers, but CT and his gang is ultra low-keyed, casual. When the music begins to crescendo and CT moves forward and picks up his right foot, I am expecting a physical display – the tongue between the teeth, the guitarist digging into his music, head bobbing, hair swaying – but, no. Instead, he gently places his foot to the floor and slowly and ever so minimally, moves his body and picks the strings. He takes one step backward and that is all. No flash. No gyrations. Just talent

The subdued attitude is the actual pulse of this group, the allure. It is their calling card. They are genuine in a day of fakery and shallowness. And their following is attracted by this distinction. They walk away feeling peaceful and entertained, uplifted by the decency and simplicity of these unusual players.

Marty, CT, Phil, Dave, Mary and Joyce

I covered these delightful people when they appeared in a restaurant (Whole Lotta Livin’ Goin’ On), a venue which provided a more rockin’ atmosphere and audience participation. In comparison, their performance was as enjoyable as ever. In fact, I believe they are working together more smoothly and harmonizing a bit better. What hasn’t changed is the obvious friendship among the members and the quality product they produce.

As for all this commotion in a library – maybe this will set a precedent and libraries won’t be so stuffy in the future, so rigid. Maybe music will be allowed on a regular basis. Maybe librarians will let their hair down and relax and refrain from stamping your book overdue.

Then again, maybe not. Well, one can dream.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. steve edwards
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 19:28:51

    keep up the entertaining articles. its amazing what happens in our own backyard that we never know about!!


    • annettecrey
      Oct 11, 2011 @ 21:40:51

      Yes, isn’t it? I have found life to be more interesting than I ever knew before. I am encouraged that others, like you, enjoy that aspect of our world. Thanks!


  2. abbyplambeck
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 21:43:28

    Hooray for these librarians! We have a favorite library here, where story hour is noisy, messy, and fun! My kids far prefer that one over another nearby library where story hour is quiet and dull enough to put even the parents to sleep. I like how you noted these musicians didn’t need flashy moves because they had enough talent. Sounds like a good band to follow!


    • annettecrey
      Oct 11, 2011 @ 21:44:05

      CT and the Retirees are a good band to follow and not just for the music. They are really amazing people. Thanks for relating that libraries are so different from one another so other people know to move on to the next one if they are not pleased.


  3. Marty Ray
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 18:03:33

    Annette, Great writing. I thought Carl was joking when he first told us about singing in the library. Apparently it went over OK, since they invited us back. Thanks for all your kind words and support.


    • annettecrey
      Oct 11, 2011 @ 21:47:10

      Yes, it’s a blast, isn’t it? Read the comment on this article by Abby Plambeck. She described two libraries with different practices. So, some are more lively than others. That’s nice to know and kudos to those librarians who think outside the box! Keep up the great entertainment!


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