Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Koalas, Parrots, Snakes and other Library Visitors

Stephen Morton of Christian Heritage College in Carindale, Queensland posted the following message on the list of the Australian and New Zealand Theological Library Association:

Hi Everyone

Perhaps this email can start a round of shared experiences of unexpected “guests” in the Library.

Today I had to have evicted, a “bookworm” who didn’t want to leave, and whom should never have been in the Library in the first place. Now, I know we are a higher education institution, even offering teaching awards, but I think actually living in the stacks among the 370s (Education) is really going too far. No, it wasn’t a student, it was a 4 foot long Green Tree Snake (see attached photos) that had decided that this was a good place to set up home. Our resident snake catcher did the deed and moved him on after a short tussle in which numerous books were used as defensive barriers by the snake.

Other “critter” tales from my Library lifetime include…
·       possums giving birth on the window sill outside my office, two years in a row
·       8-10 foot pythons knocking on the window with their nose, right in front of several very startled students
·       a koala in the tree at the front door
·       a 3 foot water dragon who decided life in the Library was too good to miss out on, and,
·       the usual assortment of spiders ranging from masses of tiny baby Huntsmen, to Red Backs, to one of the largest Huntsmen I have ever seen (spread him out and he would his legs would have extended off the edge of a dinner plate)

Rosemary Hocking, of Adelaide Theological Library in South Australia, responded:

All our visitors to date have been mostly outside, thankfully, and nothing as startling as you have in your more tropical climate!

A short list includes:

·       A small gecko – well past its due date when we found it on one of the bookshelves, and virtually mummified
·       A pair of Adelaide Plains rosella parrots who can be seen playing and swinging on the loudspeaker cord outside our workroom window
·       Various birds who try to fly into the library through our reflective-coated windows – fortunately, they are mostly only stunned, and after a brief recovery period on the awning over the ground floor under our windows, they fly off safely, if a bit groggily
·       Breeding pairs of swifts who nest under the stairs at each end of our building, then they like flying upstairs and zooming up and down the long corridor. Luckily the floor is concrete and washable, and they eventually find their way out again – but we do have a couple of people who are bird-phobic, and it’s very upsetting for them. And this year, one of the pairs managed to hatch a brood of four which they brought upstairs to visit. But the young ones had not quite developed their echo-sounding, so kept flying straight into the windows; luckily they were fairly easy to capture and take back outside.
·       And assorted other parrots and larger birds occasionally find their way upstairs – and they need a lot more help in finding the way out.

And this was my response on behalf of the Carmelite Library:

Birds, always small flighty birds, enter via the side doors in summer. It’s cool inside. They sit on the light fittings where they enjoy a magnificent view of the whole collection. Unlike Stephen Morton, I cannot supply photographs as I am too busy fetching bowls of water to lure the in-house bird toward the door and out-house. Broom handles, forget it. Speak nicely, fascinating but irrelevant. Patience alone will move the bird back toward its usual flight path.

Cats have a way of acquiring humans, rather than the other way around, as we assume in our superior way. A cat will walk into the library every so often, inspect various corners, march past reference, and find a comfy position in the sun. They are local cats. As a cat person myself this means certain rules are relaxed. It will be five-to-five before the cat is fetched and placed on the front step of the building, ready for its next adventure.  

Dogs amble in, very rarely. Then amble out. One visitor has a lapdog who gains plenty of affectionate attention. Dog owners have to be prepared for Susan Southall, Library Assistant, who takes photographs of dogs and posts them on her Facebook column.

Silverfish enter via the ‘trojan horse’ known as a box of donations. Crush them on sight. Alternatively, squash, if that does the job. Or wack. Penguin paperbacks are very effective, if one is close to hand. Things have never got out of control with silverfish, but if they did we would need to let off a pesticide bomb in a controlled environment.

Unicorns. As medieval specialists we are always ready for the unexpected.

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