Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Case Study No. 0007: Rex Libris

Rex Libris tribute video
Dedicated to the greatest (only?) librarian superhero............
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Follow the story of Rex Libris, the tough-as-nails Head Librarian at Middleton Public Library, and his unending struggle against the forces of darkness. Wearing his distinctive, super-thick bottle glasses and armed with an arsenal of powerful weapons, he strikes fear into recalcitrant borrowers, and can take on virtually any foe, from loitering zombies to fleeing alien warlords who refuse to pay their late fees. Nowhere is beyond his reach, thanks to the use of teleportation crystals (powered with pseudo-science) capable of instantly transporting Rex to the farthest corners of the universe. Even the occasional infestation of rogue, public domain literary characters in the library are dispatched with aplomb. With fists of steel and mind as sharp as a tack, Rex is a true guardian of knowledge, foe of the foolish, defender of the Dewey Decimal System, and the best hope for the future of civilization.


It has long been supposed that the librarian is a quiet and docile member of society whose function is to do little more than reshelve books. Librarians are often depicted as old maids, as if the library were a repository for unmarried women. This, of course, is exactly what they want you to think. These stereotypes are constructs of an intense and long standing disinformation campaign designed to hide the true activities of public librarians

The veil of secrecy that has surrounded the Ordo Bibliotheca, the secret International Order of Librarians, has been so complete and well maintained that it has, unlike the cover stories of the Templars and the Masons, remained completely unpenetrated by conspiracy theorists. Recently, however, new information has come to light which reveal both the depth of librarian influence on the development of human civilization, and show conclusively that the superficial docility of the librarian is but a mask that enables them to operate freely, behind the scenes, in our society.

The 'old maid' image (which most often consists of the combination of conservative attire and glasses, with hair worn in a tight bun) has been an especially effective means of disguise for concealing the formidable, sultry side of femme fatale librarian agents who employ a variety of methods, from lethal martial arts to feminine wiles, to protect knowledge, retrieve books, and add to the library collection. The practical nature of this disguise, and its brilliant simplicity, are typical of the Ordo Bibliotheca: efficient and, as necessary, ruthless. Among the most practical ever devised, the disguise does not impede movement and can easily and quickly be discarded, simply by unbuttoning a shirt, removing a hair pin, and wearing contact lenses. A femme fatale librarian, therefore, can switch modes so quickly, and metamorphize so completely, that they are virtually impossible for conventional secret agents to follow. Female librarian operatives are perceived as being less threatening than male agents, yet this too is part of the brilliant camouflage deployed by the Ordo Bibliotheca. Since at least the Sixth Century all librarians have received extensive combat training and are lethal with even the common toothpick.

To the conventional mind, this all sounds incredible, even unbelievable. Yet such skepticism simply serves the interests of the Ordo cover operation. The time has come for the shroud to be pulled back, and for the history of the Ordo Bibliotheca to be exposed to the light of day, so that all may understand the vital importance libraries have played in the development of human civilization. This material is undeniably explosive, and may very well change forever your view of the world and how it works.

First, librarians have been subtly guiding human civilization for almost two thousand years. By emphasizing, or de-emphasizing, strains of knowledge, they are able to influence the development of our societies. They approach human knowledge as if it were a great Bonsai tree, and they cull and encourage it into the desired shape.

Second, librarians are all part of a secret society called the Ordo Bibliotheca, known in some circles as the Litterati Sodalicium. Its existence has been successfully concealed from the public since its inception in 242 BC in Ptolemaic Egypt. Founded by Callimachus, the chief librarian at Alexandria, and funded by Ptolemy Philadelphus, the society quickly expanded throughout the Middle East, to Rhodes (237 AD), Athens (235 AD) and in 230 AD, Pergamum. All were major Telluric energy hubs.

The order outlived the fall of the Ptolemaic Empire, and continued to spread throughout Europe and the East under the Romans, working tirelessly to advance human knowledge and minimize the unspeakable, yet waning, influence of the mad Old Ones and their Chthonian minons.

During the Dark Ages, during which many libraries were burned by Christian fanatics, hundreds in the order fled to Persia, where under native Persian Avicenna (Also known as Sahib Al-Masahif, and the first Archmagus of the order, from 1015-1037 AD), they worked to establish an extensive series of libraries throughout the Islamic world, and to suppress the malefic influence of the Djinn of Melkemut.

All that remained in Europe were a few isolated strongholds of knowledge, such as Vivarium in Southern Italy, where Rex was chief librarian for several years (and the leader of the book retrieval commando team that was instrumental in eliminating the undead, brain-eating, book-burning zombie mercenaries that plagued Southern Italy throughout the Eleventh Century). As stability slowly returned to Europe, so did the Ordo Bibliotheca. Rex moved to Paris in the Twelfth century to participate in the expansion of the Sarbonne Library, and later helped establish the University of Salamanca in Spain in the Fourteenth Century.

There can be little doubt that without the timely intervention of Ordo Bibliotheca, much of the knowledge of the ancients would have been lost. What little civilization remained was kept alive at heavily defended monasteries guarded by the Ordo Bibliotheca and its combat trained librarians. In addition to infiltrating the church, the order also worked to co-opt, influence, and enlighten the emerging royal families of Europe, as well as protect civilization from destructive supernatural phenomenon, such as the Ghaslichubi and corpulent Unhs.

Richard Bentley (and future Archmagus and Procurator Bibliothecarum, 1695-1699), a senior Bibliophile in the order, was sent by the Grand Librarian in 1692 as a liaison to the British Royal Family, establishing a library branch in the Palace of Saint James in 1694. Bestowed the title of Keeper of the Royal Library, he expelled the Gundar Beast of Zoogh (1675-1694) and helped steer the British crown in the direction of responsible government, pressed the importance of science and empirical based knowledge, and urged the enforcement of the Act of Printing law. The influence of the librarian order culminated with the establishment of the Royal Library George III, and it is from there that the Ordo Bibliotheca would coordinate the promotion of the Enlightenment.

In North America, the establishment of an open, democratic society was championed by Benjamin Franklin (Archmagi Americanus 1770-1790), and as such the Ordo Bibliotheca was deeply involved in the creation of the United States of America.

In 1799 an elite team of librarians was embedded with Napoleon's expedition to Egypt, tasked with preventing the fruition of an ancient prophecy of doom by the malicious Egyptian god Seth. When French troops digging trenches unearthed the entrance to a long lost tomb, sealed since 190 BC, the librarian team intervened, and beat back the unspeakable, dessicated horrors that emerged from within, and saved the world from certain destruction.

In a feat of great daring, team leader Rex Libris ventured into the nightmarish depths of this hieroglyph lined hell to retrieve the black basalt slab that became known as the Rosetta Stone. Jean Francois Champollion, assisted by Rex Libris (who is believed to have more knowledge of ancient Egyptian than he lets on, and gave the brilliant Mr. Champollion numerous hints), deciphered the stone in 1822, leading to a new era in Egyptology.

In 1828, librarian Rex Libris foiled a plot in Modena, Italy, by a clandestine secret order to expose the Ordo Bibliotheca by having Antonio Panizzi, a deep cover librarian, arrested on trumped up charges of being involved with Masonic mysticism. Rex rescued Panizzi and smuggled him to England, where in 1837 Panizzi became Keeper of Printed Books and the new Archmagus of the Ordo Bibliotheca. Panizzi is seen as the second greatest Archmagus, right after Melvil Dewey.

Reactionary forces, in the form of secret orders such as the malevolent Tenebrati, the Legion of the Librinatrix, and the Ordo Magi Malignus (not to mention the Dark Teliki-iki-iki Beast of the Urug'blech'gu' from Southern Mongolia in 1927) have impeded, hampered, and thwarted many librarian driven efforts, and caused a good deal of consternation and difficulty, not to mention setbacks, over the years, but by the mid to late Twentieth Century, Franklin's vision of a prosperous, democratic, and tolerant Union had been realized.

With the innovation of the teleportation crystal in 1921 by Litteratus Magi Rex Libris, a whole new era in lending opened up: interstellar book loans became possible. By 1960, over ten thousand volumes of extraterrestrial origin had been collected and stored at the Middleton Book Repository, a ceramic encased bunker deep beneath the Middleton Public Library. It remains one of the most important reference collections of xenognomic material, and is often used by the Pentagon during alien invasions. Middleton library staff, led by Head Librarian Rex Libris, used information from the interstellar collection to repel an attack by the malevolent Sl'uklu'uhk (hideous, giant space molluscs from beyond Pluto) in 1967, although little information on this event has ever been released to the public.

Crystals, of course, have long been used by librarians to explore the Oneirimundus (dreamworld), and to facilitate entry into the world of literature itself. It can takes surprisingly little Telluric current to enter a fictional quantum dimension, but a great deal to move anything from fiction into reality. David Hume (Archmagi 1762-1770) established tables detailing the degradation time of fictional elements extrapolated into real space/time in relation to the invested level of Telluric energy. These remarkable tables are still in use today.

A great deal of information about the International Order of Librarians remains hidden from the general public, which may not, indeed, be ready to know the true history of this venerable institution. At this point, however, it is indisputable that the Ordo Bibliotheca, despite it's secretive beginnings, is both benevolent and a force for good in the world. As always, the Ordo Bibliotheca stands for reason tempered by empathy, and empathy tempered by reason, circumstances permitting. The current Archmagus of the Ordo Bibliotheca is unknown, but one can be sure that he (or she) is working behind the scenes for the sake of all humanity.

The efforts of librarians to disseminate knowledge to the public can be seen, all over the world, at your local library branch.

The official motto of the order is 'Sapere Aude,' which means 'Dare to Know.'

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