I feel like I’ve spent enough time on the creatures that terrorize America and Australia. Now for something a little closer to home: Library Gnomes.
These creatures are very similar to the British domestic Hobgoblin, with the main difference being that they only inhabit libraries.
I suspect that they are endemic to most of the Western world, although I have only been direct witness to their activities in the libraries of North America.
They are generally described as small, hairy people, with clothing made out of discarded book jackets. I can’t imagine these are very comfortable, so perhaps this accounts for their demeanor. Having tails and bright eyes, they are sometimes mistaken for library cats such as the famed Dewey Readmore Books.
Library Gnomes are rarely seen, but library staff sometimes catch a glimpse of them when checking for lingering library patrons at closing time. Seeing one is a sure sign that closing is not going to go well.
Typically, these closing mishaps involve technology. Many students work late at the library on papers, which they then need to either print off or submit electronically at the last possible minute before closing. Library Gnomes are particularly fond of breaking printers so that closing is delayed.
When they are in a better mood, they merely break one of them so that there is a longer line at the working printer. However, if they are in a particularly bad mood they will break both printers at once, so that all the students will have to either try the printer at the other library, or turn their paper in late.
In extreme cases, especially malevolent Library Gnomes have been known to punish students who wait until the last possible moment to electronically submit their assignments by permanently deleting their term papers. They also only ever do this outside of IT office hours, so that help cannot arrive in time.
How Library Gnomes became so tech-savvy is not known. One might suspect some kind of witchcraft, but then it is also possible that the Library Gnomes read library materials as well as destroying them.
Other mischief attributed to the Library Gnomes include stealing student’s library cards and using them to check out laptops, which are then presumably either broken or sold on Craigslist. I have personally been witness to more than one student who had a laptop or a book on their account they had no memory of checking out, so it seems the Gnomes are growing fond of this pernicious form of mischief.
On rare occasions the Gnomes directly interfere with library staff, but this is usually relatively minor, such as eating all the jelly-filled Timbits in the staff lounge, or leaving inexplicable crumbs on people’s desks.
Some library staff believe this is because the Gnomes know that the staff already have enough to deal with, but given the plight of the modern student I suspect not.
The origins of the Library Gnome are unknown. Some believe that the Library Gnomes were once benevolent creatures, pointing to the sudden return of long-lost library books as evidence of some shred of continued good will as evidence. On the other hand, it is not known whether the Gnomes were responsible for the books going missing in the first place, so this theory is considered suspect.
Others believe that Library Gnomes are the work of the same evil forces who are responsible for exorbitant textbook prices and unreasonable database license agreements.
Whatever their origins, for better or worse (probably worse) these perfidious little monsters are here to stay. But never fear, it is well known that the best way to keep the Library Gnomes at bay is to return library materials on time, and never lie to library staff to avoid paying fines (the Library Gnomes know when you are telling the truth.)