That sounds like the name of a great children’s book, doesn’t it?
I can see it now; creepy vines gradually reaching in to the library, getting ever closer to the librarian as you turn each lushly illustrated page. She is smiling and busy at her desk and oblivious to the leaves growing around her chair.
Suddenly, she’s gone; dragged out into the undergrowth, buried alive under thorns and roots, never to be seen again.
In her place, stands a tree; branches reaching upwards, casting dark shadows over the spot where the librarian once sat.
In the autumn, leaves fall onto the books, scattering themselves over the stories, and crunched into the carpet by excited children.
I wish I could say that I made this story up.
But I didn’t.
This summer I visited the public library where I used to work. I hadn’t been there in five years.
When I walked into the children’s area I was very surprised to find that the children’s librarians (and their desks) had disappeared from the room.
The spot where they once sat, overseeing the herds of book-hungry children devouring the literary delights on offer, was now dominated by a tree.
A tree so big that it reached the ceiling.
It wasn’t a real tree. It wasn’t alive. It had been made from paint and plastic.
But it was a tree nevertheless.
And it has replaced the children’s librarians.
Now, there’s no-one to answer children’s questions, no-one to guide them to the book they want, no-one to greet them with a reassuring smile.
The librarians are gone and the library management thought it best to replace them with a tree.
You really couldn’t make it up.
Now, in my story, there would be a happier ending, of course.
The librarian would get help from elves and fairies and magic woodland folk, who would cut her free from the roots and vines that imprisoned her underground.
She would be given an axe from a woodman, and would valiantly break into the library at night, when no-one else was around, to chop down that tree into a thousand pieces.
She would donate all those pieces as firewood to families in need, and then, after briskly brushing her hands against her trousers, she would simply push her desk back into place and get back to work, as if nothing had happened.
And sit patiently, waiting to feed stories to the children, like she always has done.
I suppose this could become a parable about library funding cuts, library mismanagement, and the importance of stories in children’s lives. Now all need is to find the time to write the story…