As you all know, Wichita Falls library has been desperately seeking a name for its racoon mascots. These mascots have a long and treasured history with the library system, much like the fabled lions that grace the New York Public Library. I promise you, by the end of this blog entry you will know the name or names of these branded creations.
But first a little history about library mascots.
I know what you are thinking, librarian please. What do you know about library history much less the history of library mascots? The answer is so much. Follow me down this rabbit hole and beware, no cats are mentioned. They are a given. Duh.
Six thousand years ago in the ancient Library of Alexandria, librarians used elephants to push carts full of cuneiform tablets. One such elephant, Big Toe, set himself apart by protecting the collection from invaders. In one afternoon, Big Toe killed over three thousand Gaul soldiers and sent them to France where they lived until Julius Caesar discovered them.
Speaking of France, skip ahead a few years and we find ourselves in the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King. The royal library of Versailles contained over twenty-seven copies of The Art of French Cooking guarded by a monkey riding a tiger. The monkey, named "Singe," would ride upon those who brought drinks into the library. The tiger, known as "Tigre," would then feast on the person unless the phrase "arrête, de ne pas me manger" was said.
When sailing to the new world, the Mayflower's library and casino deck contained a rat named "Jebediah." Jebediah was known to crawl upon Christopher Columbus's lap during the voyage as the great explorer read from his Bible. Once the Mayflower, the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and that other one landed at America, Jebediah lived with the natives and shared with them the secrets of ninjutsu. Thus the Adult Native Ninja Natives were created.
As the Industrial Revolution came along, libraries adopted more modern takes on library mascots. Gone were the cute and furry creatures of yore, much like the brave horse and oxen from the streets. In their place rose mighty creatures such as Rosie the Rivet from Detroit Public Library and Piston Pete from Library of Pittsburgh. All across the land library mascots became steel and iron forged from American metal.
Across the pond, English libraries were adopting mascots of the same ilk as the American, such as Porridge Pete of Brightenshire Public Library and Lance the Talking Spring of London Underground Library of Twisty Bits. They were not successful and grown men dressed as these creatures were mobbed and devoured by chimney sweeps.
Time marched on and it marched into war. Did you know that the Nazis had library mascots? Brennen The Dancing Burning Book was a hit at all the Nazi Summer Anti-Reading Programs in 1939.
Speaking of evil library mascots, I forgot to mention all the library mascots of ancient Greece and Rome. Like their polytheistic religion, the Greeks and Romans had dozens of library mascots for every occasion. Without getting into the weeds of which culture called who what, let's focus on similar aspects. For instance, the library mascot of Late Returns often crept into children's bedrooms and stole their toenails. The mascot of new books would scent the home with fresh ink and pulp. One library mascot that went unnamed in both cultures simply stole all the writing utensils in the library.
All this history mumbo jumbo brings us back to modern day Wichita Falls. The library over in the Big WtF came up with a raccoon as their mascot, presumably because they share a dumpster with a Papa John's. Turning to the community, they asked for names for the cute critters.
I have it on good authority entries included (in no particular order): Critter, Basket, Book Pow, Soldier Killstab, Billy, My Dad, Potato Head, Poopy Butt Randy, Shelf, I Don't Know, X, I Like Trucks, Mommy Loves Me, Help I'm in Room, Goodnight Moon, and Garbage Panda.
The good librarians at Wichita Falls settled on two mascots and chose the names Booker and Paige. We hope they go on to inspire generations to read and love the library.
I would have chosen Poopy Butt Randy and Garbage Panda, however, and that's why I no longer get to name programs.