Welcome back to another Ask A Banned Librarian. This question comes from an unknown member of the community, slipped under the door of the library in the dead of night.
Q: Love the blog. Last night I had a dream where a coyote was fighting a monkey to the death in a Mexican prison for gummy bears. It was sad to see all the gummy bears locked up like that. After the guards broke up the fight, I flew to Budapest and had coffee before going to the library. The person at the circulation desk was a bitch. I love coming to my library and always wondered if the circulation desk was always a thing or did somebody just invent it or something? And can you fire that bitch behind the desk that said I had a fine when there's no way I did?
A: The circulation desk, or lending desk, is an integral part of the modern library. It is the center of the lending activity, providing the ability to check out items, recieve items, collect fines, answer small inquiries, and handle various library matters that do not require a professional librarian.
The circulation desk is a relatively modern invention, beginning in its present incarnation within the last century. Before then, only one central desk was needed as the peasants were not allowed into the stacks. This central desk was guarded by a single librarian, a professional above reproach which guarded the books as a dam guards a small town in a Superman comic.
As literacy increased and more and more "regular" people were allowed to understand things, the people began to wish to be let in on the secrets of the universe and the writings of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and the time traveling Ben Franklin then writing in the form of H. G. Wells. The guardian knight librarian stepped aside as the need for knowledge grew. This allowed the average man and woman to mingle among the celestial knowledge of the ancients. All it took was a single child forming an opinion and calling for more James Fenimore Cooper and that central desk was split into twain and then in twain again. The library was changed.
The guardian knight librarian saw his duties split with the desk. Too divided, the librarian saw a need to block the knowledge from escaping and captured part of the split desk. As the lifeblood of the library, the books, began to move through the community and enrich it, the librarian looked to the human body to name the desk, the blockage, the starling. Research revealed the correlation blood and books. As blood circulates through the body, so do the books circulate through the Heart Desk.
Over the years people thought "Heart Desk" sounded dumb, so they just called it the Circulation Desk. And that's how that happened.
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