Deep in the nooks and crannies of society lives an organization, a dedicated movement, defined only by the unique ability of its members.
I discovered the organization years ago and began to follow them, studying their every move. They have no handshake nor do they wear any sort of identifiable insignia. What’s most peculiar is they do not occupy a joint headquarters or secret lair but instead use their homes or public spaces as a base of operations. Despite that public presence, they operate in whispers and nudges, although they always use their abilities for the greater good. These extraordinary citizens—these devoted individuals—are known as the League of Librarians.
The League of Librarians has been around for as long as stories have existed. It was formed in the distant past by the first person to ever tell a story. Regrettably, the League’s archives have no record of this person’s name or background so it appears that his or her identity is lost to the ages. Members of the League have a single magical ability: to willingly, habitually, and passionately immerse themselves in fiction. They devour stories as if starved for weeks; they absorb each sentence, every word, as if satisfying an unquenchable thirst; and their minds can simultaneously consume the words and paint mental pictures in a manner that would leave ambidextrous people in awe. These Librarians are not required to work in formal libraries, though some choose to do so. Many live their public lives in office cubicles, behind retail counters, or on travels far and wide. The League does not use a database to keep track of its members but I can confirm that they are fully aware of how to track down each other when needed.
Through careful research, I discovered the League’s ongoing mission: to save society from the dismal abyss of a lost imagination. This chasm of despair is continually carved out by a vague evil force I’ll refer to as “the Entity,” whose secrecy is as thin as a sheet of paper but whose physical presence is as intangible as a light mist. The Entity is locked in combat with the League at every turn, using powerful armaments such as trite entertainment and the ease of laziness to lure society away from the fruits of an imaginative book. Rumor has it the League can claim the invention of the e-book reader as a weapon to counter some of the more distracting (and coincidentally, senseless) aspects of the internet (no doubt a creation of the Entity). However, I’ve not yet found any direct attribution to the League for that invention.
I’m sure this all sounds thrilling but understand one thing: the League’s work is not to be taken lightly. Initiation is fairly secretive, even solitary at times. They prefer to initiate people who’ve displayed years, even decades, of dedication to reading stories and they do not tolerate whimsical and lackluster efforts to engage fiction. Most writers are probably members though there are a few who appear to have been kicked out due to their preference for producing generic work that prioritizes income over substance. They have become minions for the Entity and should be avoided at all costs.
You might be wondering how, or why, I am bringing all of this to light given the League’s secrecy on an operational level. During my years of research, I realized that despite the need for their day-to-day activities to live just below the surface of mainstream perception, their grand objective should not. The League needs all the help it can get so I am writing this as a call-to-action. Do not be tempted by the despicable force that coerces you into grabbing the TV’s remote control instead of a paperback. Be on the lookout for ads that flaunt new network programming instead of fresh novels. Flee from those who prioritize sloth over saturating the mind with rich fiction. Take your dedication to the written story and seek out the League wherever you can find them. If you are true of heart, they will know and you will enter their ranks as brothers and sisters.
If I’ve learned one thing, dear readers, it’s that this world needs Librarians.
© 2016-2017 Joe Blend. All rights reserved.
(This essay was originally written in 2016 for the now-defunct blog The Ink Snack; minor edits have been made to this updated version.)