Catarina Vanderburg is the town’s community development officer: she works for the town hall and controls the community development fund. Today she is holding a public meeting to discuss whether the library needs any improvements. A quick phone call to the head librarian Beatrice Crumplebottom to check she would attend the meeting, and Catarina hopped into her waiting car (a bright pink limo! This did not make me happy as it is far too ostentatious for the little town of Crumpleton, so I quickly gave them more suitable cars).
When Catarina arrived at the library her friend Beatrice could not be found. The only person who has arrived on time for the meeting was Sabrina Funke, a slightly flaky local mother who complained that there was no children’s section in the library. Catarina made a note of this very good point. The library was an extremely old building and was protected by the heritage association. She explained this to Sabrina and promised that she would do what she could and would also look at providing better resources at the local primary school. Sabrina seemed pleased with this and left.
Alone in the library, Catarina looked around the old building. She remembered reading there as a child and was full of fond memories of the place. It may not have had all the modern technology of the newer libraries, but it had a famous collection of old books and an interesting history. Catarina picked up a book on Roman rhetoric and settled down to pass the time until more people arrived.
Soon after, Catarina felt a gust of cool evening air as the old doors were pushed open. There stood an unexpected visitor to the meeting, Diana Jones.
Diana was quick to complain about the poor wifi connection, ‘Back in Bridgeport we had this amazing library with all the latest technology. There was a coffee bar, fast internet access, electronic journals and study-o-cise. All this library has is a load of mouldy old books!’
Catarina was tempted to say, ‘Well, you’re not in Bridgeport now my dear’ but she bit her tongue and replied, ‘I’ll take your suggestions on board.’
But who was that, hiding in the bushes outside? It was Beatrice! What on earth was she doing? It turned out she had seen Diana entering as she arrived and wanted to hide until she was gone. She was tired of listening to her complaints about her beloved library. Beatrice avoided eye contact with Diana as she walked in and quickly scurried over to her friend.
‘Oh Catarina!’ she cried after enquiring about her daughter, ‘I’m so glad you are holding this meeting! The library feels like it’s falling apart around me! The branches of the old oak tree outside have knocked tiles off the roof and water is dripping in each time it rains! I worry about the damage the damp may do to the books. Also, we have no toilet facilities because the building is so old! People are having to use the one across the road at the community centre. Then I have people like Mrs Jones complaining about the slow wifi! She’s lucky to get an internet connection at all here in Crumpleton!’
(Note: there really is a tree clipping through the roof so I decided to leave it and write it into the story)
‘Beatrice dear, why have you not approached the council about the roof?’ Catarina enquired.
‘I did!’ cried Beatrice, ‘I spoke to councillor Dixon at church a fortnight ago. He said he would look into it but I haven’t heard anything since.’
Catarina encouraged Beatrice not to worry and reassured her that she would speak to Mr Dixon personally. She would certainly secure the funding for the roof. Catarina also gave her a gift, a new book by her favourite author.
Catarina took one last look around the library. Considering the lack of a specific children’s area, the two boys seemed to have found whatever it was they were looking for in those old dusty books! And Catarina was surprised to find Diana hidden in a dark corner of the library with a very old book indeed! This seemed odd, considering her passionate complaints about the facilities. Perhaps there was more to Diana than she first assumed.