Information Specialist as Detective Contest

The Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Information Services (CASLIS) invites Canadian information specialists to explore their creative side and apply their skills to solve a mystery. To enter the contest, we want you to create an information specialist (be it librarian, records manager, archivist, knowledge management consultant, or whoever) who makes use of their professional skills to turn detective. You don't need to write the entire novel. Just give us: * A title * An outline plot summary * An extract The total length of the entry (including the title, summary and extract) should be no more than 500 words long. Entries will be judged on their entertainment value and the inventive use they make of our specialist skills rather than their potential interest to a literary agent. Entries will be reviewed by a jury composed of librarians and mystery writers. The winner will be awarded a $50 gift certificate from a mystery bookstore. The jury members are: * Evette Berry, Calgary Public Library * Ross Gordon, Director, RCMP Library and Canadian Police College Library * Mary Jane Maffini, mystery writer and lapsed librarian All submissions will be published in the October 2008 edition of Special Issues: Bulletin of the Canadian Association of Special Libraries and Information Services. Members of the Canadian Library Association will be invited to vote for the winner of a People's Choice Award who will receive a $25 gift certificate from a mystery bookstore. Entries should be submitted to [email protected] by September 15, 2008.


I'm not Canadian, eh? So I can't enter properly, eh? So this is my improper entry:

A worrying sign was the widespread theft of vowels in Canada. In Canada, the number of vowels should always equal or exceed the number of consonants in each word, as in "Canada" or "Beaufort Sea".

Even hoary old Canadian quotes, such as the famous quotation from the Canadian actor playing Shakeseapre's Julius Caesar, "Et tu, Brute, Eh?" has had the final "Eh?" dropped in the Canadian folios. Or the silent dipthongs as in "esquimaux" have suddenly disappeared from all the library shelves.

What was the plan for the purloined vowels? A Reference librarian from Niagara figured it all out ("awl oot"). Obviously, a derranged library patron was stealing all the vowels from all the libraries in Canada, to be wrapped up and hidden in old newspaper scraps and sent as a CARE package to countries like Serbia, who apparently are in desperate need of extra vowels with cities named Vrsac, Trstenik or Vrbas.

In a final denoument, just before the weekend closing time, the derranged patron was cornered red-handed in the Reference section with an armful of vowels (some silent as a schwa, some screaming with special emphasis!). He was finally ovecome over a Cutter Table by the library techs wielding bone folders and maple leaf-red Swingline heavy duty staplers. He was finally checked out by an Ill Librarian using as a foil a sharpened Gaylord rod from an old card catalog. All the library staff agreed that his capture was overdue and the loony should also be fined many loonies for being overdue.

The vowels were dropped from the patron's hands during the struggle, and they spilled out all over the library floor in a disorganized mush. But the vowels were all safely herded back to the shelves (quietly, and lined up in proper alphabetical order) by a Children's Librarian, and the bookcase was closed.

Special Constable Mick MacGregor, of the RMCP, was very pleased, especially since he would no longer be known as "Mck McGrgr", now that the vile vowel perpetrator was locked away ("shelved permanently in the closed stacks", as the librarians would say!).

The End!
Or: "Th Nd!" in case he ever gets loose again! Can you say, "Sequel"?

R. Lee Hadden (These are my own opinions!)

I have a novel idea: The protagonist is a struggling but idealistic public librarian who believes in his vocation so much he is willing to accept a smaller salary than he feels he deserves. But then he finally decides spend time working on the novel for which he has had an idea for years. But then an opportunity comes around to enter a contest in which he submits his idea to mystery authors who stand to make big money off his idea instead, because he stands to gain a whopping $50 gift certificate!
I'm still not sure how it ends, though.

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