Articles Tagged with Shaggy Dog Tale

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(PARTS ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, AND FIVE)

Book thievery is the one crime of which people do not seem to mind being suspected.” (“Miss Manners Basic Training: The Right Thing to Say,” by Judith Martin, Crown Publishers, 1998, p. 47.)

As the author of “The Book Thief” laments, it is very hard to get law enforcement to care about missing books. Who cares if the books are national treasures, worth more than any single painting in an art museum, the only surviving record of a two-thousand year old culture, or simply a paperback book purchased with public money for the enjoyment of hundreds for the next couple of years? Most law enforcement personnel, from police to prosecutors to judges, even those who are literate and even literary seem to find book theft somewhat more important than the theft of one’s recycling from curbside and somewhat less important than the theft of someone’s front garden pink flamingo. Stolen pink flamingos make the news, but not stolen books, unless there are lots of them and there is someone to blame, usually not the thief. It is one kind of several types of crimes where the victim is deemed more to blame than the thief. (For example, library and book store security system managers often get more of the blame than the thief.)

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(LINK TO PARTS ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, and SIX)(No quote, but you get a limerick, which is even better! See below …)


Months, years passed. I still didn’t have my books and the trail was getting cold. There are times when the path ahead is not clear. Do I “let it go” or do I push ahead? If I take the latter course of action, on what principle do I base my pursuit? If the former course of action is taken, isn’t the question essentially the same? On what principle do I base my inaction, my passivity? It’s not as if librarians are not brave – we are. But we’re generally on the shy side of grandstanding. Librarians can, if provoked, become downright fierce when their books disappear or their patron’s privacy rights are threatened. We can also become obsessed, which isn’t altogether a good or healthy thing; it’s just the way it is and those of you who love your libraries have obsessive librarians to thank for defending the institution. And, for some doggie and librarian comic relief, here is a limerick my sister wrote, not knowing that more than 30 years later I would ask her permission to include it in a blog posting about the law, the FBI, missing books, and of course, shaggy dogs:

Doggone, A Limerick Tale,by Chris Orr (circa 1974)
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The Law Librarian and the FBI: A Shaggy Dog Tale in Six Parts: PART THREE

(PARTS ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE and SIX)

Lucy: That kid in school sure said some mean things about you today. How come you didn’t hit him?

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PART TWO(See PARTS ONE, TWO, THREE, FOURFIVE and SIX)

“Our view is that it takes a special talent to make libraries controversial.” *

Several months on, however, despite all efforts, it appeared that my missing books were going to continue to preoccupy my thoughts. Brandon was out of jail, his lawyers fighting on his behalf, and the lawsuits would work their way through the courts. Brandon didn’t have or couldn’t find my library’s books, and I wasn’t going to press the point; there were more important matters on his mind at the time. I did ask trusted friends if or how I should pursue the return of my books if in fact the FBI had taken them. Attorneys continued to advise me to lay low, stay away, look out because these guys mean business . “People have disappeared,” was said in hushed tones. “Librarians have disappeared?” I wanted to ask, but kept quiet, after all, it was 2004, 2005, and then 2006. These apparently were Years To Keep Quiet, which under normal circumstances would be quite pleasant for a lot of librarians. But now, not so much.

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Librarians, rightly, worry about what to do when the FBI comes knocking, but what does a librarian do when they already knocked and you want back what they might have taken?

(As for Shaggy Dog tales, I owe what I know of them to Isaac Asimov’s “Treasury of Humor,” Houghton Mifflin, 1971. But you can also find shaggy dog stories on the web, here and here and elsewhere.)

(Links to all six parts, from here or … PARTS ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR,  FIVE and SIX)

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Shaggy Dog stories: You never know when you might need one of these, the Web’s First Shaggy Dog Archive. Aren’t shaggy dog stories up there with Aesop’s fables and Greek myths? Every well educated lawyer needs to have a well stocked store of them. Nu?

And then there is this: the Law Librarian and the FBI, A Shaggy Dog Tale: PARTS ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE and SIX

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