Friday, July 27, 2012

Summer Library Series: A Truant in the Stacks by Laura Ellen Scott

It's the last Friday of July and the fifth week 
of the Summer Library Series wherein authors 
share their experiences at the library when they 
were growing up.  

Please welcome this week's author, fiction writer 
Laura Ellen Scott, who skipped school in order 
to roam the Kent State Library in Kent, Ohio.


by Laura Ellen Scott

. . . “Oh for Christ’s sake, 
she went to the God-damned library!”

When I was eleven, I noticed all the other girls were lined up to borrow nurse-themed romances from our school library. I’m not sure how Brimfield Elementary had amassed such a collection, but I did my best to join the literary conversation. I started to talk up a cool book about Squanto that I’d just read, and the other girls literally turned away from me. I think that was the moment when I realized I was in the right place, but maybe they weren’t.

Kent State University Library
Flash forward to my sophomore year in high school. I had already accrued the maximum number of unexcused absences (fifteen) when on the sixteenth morning I waved the school bus driver on and walked away. You’re not supposed to do that, especially not in front of a busload of other kids. My mother was called in for a heated conference with the principal that concluded with Mom yelling, “Oh for Christ’s sake, she went to the God-damned library!”

And that was true. Each of those days I bailed on school was spent at Kent State University’s twelve-floor library. I had no idea Mom knew.

The problem was the library. It was a four-mile walk from my house. To be honest, I don’t understand how anyone could go to school with a library like that one so close. My high school was full of mean, unimaginative people. The college library was full of books, and not just nurse romances, either. It also offered something really new: OCLC terminals. My first contact with computers. OCLC used to stand for Ohio College Library Center before it turned into Online Computer Library Center. This meant that not only could I play in the KSU library, I also had access to a network of libraries. And I felt a lot more at ease in a room of hairy-nosed scholars than I did with the kids from my hometown. (However, I can’t pretend I was doing hard-core research. Back then I was probably looking up tidbits about Kyoto, gorillas, and Laurence Olivier.)

Untitled  Rachel Kertz
Used with photographer's permission
My mother’s argument was probably misunderstood, and it was definitely unsuccessful. Suspended, I spent three days in a featureless room adjacent to the principal’s office with actual bad kids who taught me how to open locked doors with a laminated card. When the suspension was over, Mom and I worked out a way that I could graduate a year early and get to college that much sooner. Her tacit support of my truancy probably looked like careless parenting from the outside, but in reality it was a calculated risk.


Laura Ellen Scott
Laura Ellen Scott writes, lives, and teaches in Fairfax, Virginia and is the author of two books, her story collection Curio (Uncanny Valley Press, 2011) and her novel, a comic fantasy, Death Wishing (Ig publishing, 2011). Her stories can be found in a number of literary journals such as Barrelhouse, The Mississippi Review, Storyglossia and Staccato. She is presently working on her next novel, Willie July and the Mystery House. 

To find her books at your library, check out or ask your librarian. 

Check out next week's author, TJ Beitelman, 
who writes about a discarded library book 
that he didn't know was discarded.