Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Ghost of Anne Carroll Moore


Halt! Who goes there?

Um, Winchester. Who are you?

I am Anne Carroll Moore, the originator and head of Work with Children in the New York Public Library. This is the Central Children's Room in the Donnell Branch where I worked for 35 years.

O-kay. I'm looking for a book on birds so I can catch and eat them.

In our collection we have--had--many fine volumes on our feathered friends. However, none on the catching and eating of birds.

Maybe I'll read this book instead. It's got owls in it.

That happens to be an anthology of my column, "The Three Owls."

Whatever. This place is kind of quiet, even for a library.

The library is closed permanently. This building will be torn down and a hotel will be slapped together on this hallowed location.

How come you're here?

I will never leave. When the bulldozers come to raze the building, I will throw myself in front of their wicked blades.

You've got a lot of nerve for an old lady. How come you're wearing that Christmas dress? And what's that weird-looking doll?

Don't be impertinent, young man. I am dressed for Christmas Eve. That was when I was given Nicholas Knickerbocker. He has been my closest friend ever since.

You sound like The Writer. She has a stuffed elephant named Ellsworth that she used to carry everywhere.

I doubt an ordinary stuffed animal has much in common with my Nicholas. Will you look at these books? I fought for years to keep that dreadful Nancy Drew and those hideous mass market books off my sacred shelves.

Where are you going now?

To Room 105. That was my office, you know. I will wait for the bulldozers.

Me too! This place is too cool to tear down. We'll protest together. Maybe those awful hotel people will change their mind.

One can only hope.

This post is dedicated to the Donnell Branch of the New York Public Library, which will close its doors on September 1, 2008.

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