April Foolswatch 2016

A roundup of the best library jokes and pranks from this year

April 4, 2016

Library and Archives Canada announced the acquisition of the declassified journals and military records of soldier James “Logan” Howlett, who bears a striking resemblance to Hugh Jackman.
Library and Archives Canada announced the acquisition of the declassified journals and military records of soldier James “Logan” Howlett, who bears a striking resemblance to Hugh Jackman. Photo: Library and Archives Canada

April First means April Fools’ pranks, and libraries are enthusiastic participants. Here are some of our favorites from this year:

A Soldier’s Life, Declassified

The day’s clear viral victor was Library and Archives Canada’s (LAC) announcement of the acquisition of the declassified journals and military records of soldier James “Logan” Howlett. “Logan’s journals provide valuable insight into his early life in Canada, including work as a miner in a British Columbia stone quarry, a fur trader for the Hudson’s Bay Company, and a homesteader in the Canadian Rockies,” LAC reported. Howlett, who bears a curious resemblance to actor Hugh Jackman, was wounded while fighting in Ypres in World War I but survived and served as an Allied spy and a paratrooper during the Normandy landings on D-Day during World War II.

Many Happy Returns

Urbandale (Iowa) Public Library had some fun with its book returns, rigging them to… well, watch the video, which also depicts a few good-natured pranks on the circulation desk.

More Birds of America

Indiana University (IU) Bloomington’s Lilly Library of rare books and manuscripts excitedly announced a newly discovered Audubon plate. (Tragically, however, the plate was blown up by TNT, and then buried under a boulder.) IU also developed Hoosier Snoozer “Nap Pod” technology for sleepy students at its Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses, complete with soothing music, blankets, and cats to snuggle.

Gone to the Dogs  

Duke University’s Perkins Library has hosted “Puppies at Perkins” events, which bring in therapy dogs to provide a comforting study break during finals week, for several years. This year, the library decided to expand that program, hiring several canine staffers full-time. The dogs—a 2-year-old corgi, a 4-year-old golden retriever, and a 5-year-old German shepherd—have been trained to greet visitors and reshelve books, and they’re also curating the “Tails from the Archives” reading section chronicling the university’s historic pets.

But Does It Have an Active Friends Group?

Missouri Library Association’s JobLine included an absolutely 100% serious posting for the librarian and director of the Little Free Library in McCormick’s Hay Field in Plattin. Duties include drying and preserving waterlogged books “on a semi-regular basis” and “Collaborat[ing] with institutional partners such as Farmer McCormick; engag[ing] in hay baling and similar duties as required.” The salary falls somewhat short of the $41,680 recommended by a 2008 American Library Association Allied Professional Association resolution, but it does offer unlimited fishing and free fruits and vegetables.

Self check-out at Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, Virginia.
Self check-out at Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, Virginia.

Is Literalism Technically a Prank?

Marissa Neal, librarian at Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, Virginia, offered a self check-out station for one day only, as did Billerica (Mass.) Public Library.

Easy All-Nighters

The College of William & Mary’s Earl Gregg Swem Library announced a new partnership with Airbnb to list rooms in the library for students to rent, so they “won’t have to sacrifice precious study time to make the long journey back to their dorms in order to get a little shut-eye.” The “Tribe Chic” rooms feature queen-size adjustable Sleep Number beds, outlets for recharging laptops and mobile devices, a mini fridge, and a massage chair, and are “outfitted to reflect the university’s visual identity guidelines” with “‘William & Mary Green’ walls and throw pillows adorned with hand-stitched cyphers.”

That’s It, Everyone’s Favorite Character Is Going to Die

Ipswich Libraries in Queensland, Australia, tempted fate and hordes of angry fans by announcing the April 1 release of the sixth novel in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter. Reports of a stern-looking nun standing outside the library chanting “shame, shame, shame” could not be confirmed.

The Prankster Priest

Like many libraries, Williamson County (Tenn.) Public Library offered a primer on the origins of April Fools’ Day. By the library’s reckoning, April 1 is the feast day of St. Hilary of Poitiers, who was beatified and canonized despite being “reprimanded by the archbishops and cardinals of France at the time for once having replaced the water in the holy font with ‘the juice of the apple, the fruit that brought the fall of Eve.’”

The Luddites Were Right

Arkansas Tech University’s Ross Pendergraft Library declared that it would phase out all print materials. The staff approved of the decision, as it would allow them to devote more time to helping patrons with computers, although it acknowledged that student workers might need to be lent out for ditch-digging duty.

Beating Amazon to the Punch

Davenport (Iowa) Public Library launched a drone delivery system for library materials. While the test project promises fast, convenient service, the library “does not accept any responsibility for misdirected items, broken windows, dented cars, or head gashes that may result from a Drones R Us drone delivery.”