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“…or a country club? Being a fairy tale is no longer a natural right of any story that fits the definition? They have to be able to trace their ancestry or be vetted to join the club? Is that what you’re saying?” Sagacia asked.

Maxwell Armfield, from H. C. Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling”

Simplia looked puzzled, which is to say “natural.”

“You mean it’s no longer enough to just be a story that contains magic or enchantment or impossible creatures?” Sagacia asked. “It’s not enough to be set in some non-specific time and place? It’s not enough that the protagonist achieve a goal or become wiser? Its not enough that he live happily ever after?” Sagacia pressed onward with increasing aggression. “Now the tale must also pass some test of time and origin, too!!? Like joining the D.A.R.?”

Simplia looked natural, which is to say “puzzled.”

After a moment she spoke. “No, but it is enough that it be in the 398 section of the library instead of in fiction or somewhere else,” she said.

“Oh, and who shall be the fairy tale police who come out and arrest the wannabe tales? And who shall be the fairy tale jury who hear the cases of counterfeit fairy tales? Hmmm?” Sagacia continued insistently, “And who will be the judge who sentences the impostors?”

“The alleged impostors, that is,” she added cautiously. “Innocent until proven guilty.”

“Librarians do all that stuff and make all the decisions,” said Simplia.

Sagacia glared at her skeptically.

“And I can think of other decisions in life that I wish were made by librarians, too,” Simplia continued. “What children should learn in school. Whether to build a park or a parking lot. Whether to put pesticides on corn. How many guns to sell to people. I wish librarians were the ones making those decisions. They’d make them better!”

Sagacia looked stunned, which is to say, “natural.”

“Well, that’s all true,” she said, “But even librarians aren’t consistent. As Camille Born said, ‘Mr. Dewey’s system works quite well; it just ain’t perfect.'”

“And one of the imperfections is that fairy tales by writers such as Hans Christian Andersen who had written new fairy tales before Melville Dewey came along and numbered things got their stories grandfathered in on the 398 shelf, but authors who came later got sent to the 800s and got themselves lost among the novelists and short story writers,” Simplia continued.

“And some of our magical friends,…” she continued, shuffling through the stack of letters still piled in the center of the table, “…Even mentioned who some those writers were.” She pulled out a letter and opened it.

“Here Mario Rups talks about Tolkien and Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, the Harry Potter books of J. K. Rowling as well as L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz.” She shuffled through the stack again. “Eric Haynes added the Shaun Tan anthology, Tales from Outer Suberbia, Marion Leeper mentioned Mike O’Leary’s book of folk tales, and Tony Toledo cited Jane Yolen. Of course, sometimes if a book just flat-out says “Fairy Tales” or “Folk Tales” in the title, it will get into 398 even if it’s modern, especially if it’s a modern collection of old tales, like Bain’s Turkish Fairy Tales or Yeat’s Irish Fairy and Folk Tales that Simon Brooks mentioned, and those of Angela Carter or George MacDonald, for that matter. I guess that’s another way Dewey’s Decimal System ‘ain’t perfect.’ So maybe 398 is kind of like a private club, but it’s okay to have fairy tales, wonder tales, in other places, too. In fact, it would make for a pleasant surprise to browsers in those stacks!”

“Okay, I think I get it!” said Sagacia. “And maybe some fairy tales are hidden among the poets, like Alexander Pushkin, or in the music section with ballets and operas that have fairy tale libretti, like Humperdink’s Hansel and Gretel or Dvorak’s The Little Mermaid.”

“Right!” Simplia smiled. “And perhaps they aren’t exactly frozen on the page, as Pondering in Pomona suggests, but simply ‘stored,’ saved and preserved there so they can be unlocked by new storytellers at any time. Perhaps they should be studied not like history, so as not to be condemned to repeat it, but like art, as inspiration for new creation, having the potential to inspire a new generation to breathe new life into it. You can’t do that to pinned butterflies, but you can do it to saved stories. In fact, that is why they are there, as Gene Helmick-Richardson passionately envisions, ‘…it is our duty to reinvent the library as an oral storehouse. We must revisualize what it means to “tell” a story.'”

“And,” she continued, “As modhukori, suggests, ‘Maybe we should access the recesses of our minds that still beat to an unschooled wild rhythm,… It may take time, but it’s there.’” Simplia took a deep breath.

“And that’s good enough for me,” she said, crossing her arms in closure.

Sagacia looked normal, which is to say, “stunned.”

“You know what, Simplia?” she said, at last. “I think Vasilisa would be proud of you!

“Here, let’s get these letters packed up and send them off to Pondering. He needs some new ideas to ponder about!”

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