I’ll do anything to promote library

If you know me and have ever asked me about the library system, you know that I will do anything to promote our libraries to the public.

I love libraries and will do whatever is possible to educate people on their purpose, resources, locations and operations.

With that in mind, this year’s Steubenville Christmas Parade had “nutcracker” as its theme to coincide with the new Nutcracker Village at Historic Fort Steuben. The library tries to schedule our Bookmobile to participate in Christmas parades held around the county.

Sara, our Bookmobile librarian, thought it would be a great idea for some of us to dress up as nutcrackers and walk beside the Bookmobile, also decorated as a rolling nutcracker.

As all of this was being discussed, I was asked if they could decorate me as a Nutcracker – to which I noted that my physique might not lend itself to the project – but if it would promote the library system, why not?

Our public relations person, Jennifer, was making arrangements and arranging for supplies, and staff members Jaime, Donna and Kathy were discussing the necessary makeup to paint our faces like the nutcrackers they found doing research in the library.

Makeup? Wait a minute; I had never considered that I would have my face painted for this event.

Promote the library system; let people know there are seven libraries in Jefferson County all ready for people to use. The Internet has not replaced libraries.

In the 45 years that I have worked in public libraries, marching in a parade with goo all over my face was a new one, but I would participate and be receptive.

The first item to appear for my wardrobe was a tall, furry hat with jewels, followed by a red, long-sleeved sweater of sorts. Then I found white gloves. White hair made from an unknown source, and a low beard completed the look.

I knew that someone was putting goo all over my face, but the complexity of the whole thing was still unknown to me.

Excitement continued as various pieces of the project appeared on hangers in the Bookmobile area of the library, and various tests were performed to see if the hats fit, beards worked and hair looked realistic.

Even the Bookmobile had a mustache and hat of sorts come parade day. I was told to be at the library early because it was uncertain how long the face preparations would take.

Ninety minutes before we left for the parade the goo application began. I was parked in an office chair and Sara seemed to delight in the application of something that looked like white mortar mix onto my face, followed by various colors of paints to form the face of a nutcracker.

Pretty soon, several staff took delight in painting up the Boss, sure that would all be fired the next week. My gray eyebrows were black, and then the final step.

“Stare straight ahead so I can glue these false eyelashes in place.” Hey, no one mentioned this – but it was too late, the first one was already in place followed quickly by the second.

I was told not to touch anything, and don’t open your mouth as teeth had been painted on my chin. By parade time, some of the goo was flaking off; some of the paint had to be retouched.

I was told to march along like a nutcracker, but I reminded my staff of the titanium cage and screws in my back, but actually my back hardware reacted well to the parade.

Skimmer the Bookworm led the way and was the most popular representative of the library, bringing hugs from children.

Most people just stared at me, until they realized who was under all that goo and white hair, dancing along with Sara and Donna. Kathy passed out library information with Jennifer.

We won the award for the unit that was not a float that used the parade theme.

Removal of the goo took most of the afternoon, followed by a long hot shower in the evening.

It was all worth it to hear the little boy who came over to me and asked his mother “what that thing is.” I told him that I was a nutcracker librarian, and he proceeded to tell me how he had used the library forever and loved it.

(Hall is director of the Public Library of Steubenville and Jefferson County.)


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