Leslie Knope has wanted to be a librarian since she was six years old. Leslie believes in learning and literacy, and that knowledge is power. Leslie loves books. She started out as a page when she was in high school, worked her way up to the circ desk, and spent her summers running the best and biggest summer reading program in the county all through university. (She still has boxes of the Dewey the Bookworm branded notebooks, pencils, balloons and tote bags under her dining room table, along with the first four successive renditions of the mascot costume, and all of her scripts and program plans in a series of cross-indexed binders.) She got her MLIS from Indiana State, and promptly came back home to Pawnee. Leslie manages the collections, children's programming, operational policies, staff training and orientation, community needs assessment, and ongoing grant applications and reporting. She loves her job as assistant director the same way Leslie does everything, with the passion of a thousand firey burning suns. She hates the Parks Department with the same intensity, and not just because Tammy Swanson is the director. Bunch of punk-ass dirt jockeys.
Ron Swanson is the library director. No-one knows where he got his MLIS. When asked to provide documentation to the city clerk's office, he handed over a heavily redacted faxed copy, with everything blacked out but his name and the title of the degree. Ron's views on patron privacy, internet filtering, and challenged materials are all very similar to the American Library Association's official statements on the same. Leslie would appreciate it if you didn't point it out to him, though. The ongoing battle between Marcia Langman and Ron over obscene material in the library collection is the stuff of legend. Marcia tried to ban the entire sexual health section, and since finding out that you needed to fill out a request for reconsideration for each book individually, is reconsidering her plan of attack. Marshall Langman is previewing all 137 books that come up when you search the catalogue for gay sex, just to be prepared.
Donna Meagle is the head of the circ department. She is scarily efficient, and god help you if you ever refer to her as "just" a library tech. After the take-down is over, you will find yourself working every Friday night, all day Saturday and Sunday, and the day after every long weekend for the next year. (She is also in charge of the schedule.) The rest of the county knows that you had better not lose an interlibrary loan from Pawnee Public Library in transit indefinitely and damn well better do that shelf-check ASAP, and you do NOT hoard AV material and refuse to fill interlibrary loan requests, because ILLS are also Donna's domain. She once won a forty-seven minute staredown with Joan Calamezzo over a thirty-five cent fine, but latchkey kids and single moms are often surprised to find that no, they don't owe that fifty dollar fine for overdues that they've been agonizing over, Donna has no idea what they're talking about. Everyone, but everyone, gets treated with the same damn dignity and respect when you come to HER desk.
Jerry has paged and worked the circ desk for his entire adult life. The rest of the library staff had a yearly pool on the number of times he'll get his hand (and his head) stuck in the book drop. He hasn't been allowed to use the laminator since the incident involving Leslie's vintage Harrison Ford READ poster that ended in second-degree burns. Once, he accidentally gave someone a thousand-dollar credit instead of waiving a ten cent fine. To this day, no-one is sure how he did it, even the ILS software vendor, since the system's not even set up to hold a credit balance. His favourite part of the job is shelf-reading.
Tom handles the serial subscriptions and databases, and is the liaison with the local business community. He's the only one in the library who actually likes talking to vendors' reps, and is the self-proclaimed king of promotional swag. He is currently lobbying for a makerspace, and has big plans for when (if) the library gets a 3D printer. Leslie put him in charge of the monthly children's puppet show only once, which is the reason for the "no rap at storytime ever" rule in the staff handbook. Every other Thursday nights, when Tom is on the ref desk, and Donna works circ, there's a standing tradition of a supper break contraband pizza delivery from the upscale artisan place in Eagleton. (Treat yo'self.) Leslie must never know.
April started as the intern, but since she's been hired on permanently, her responsibilities have been expanding in a way she finds truly alarming. Donna will shamelessly use her to deter the patrons who have been upgraded from lonely and talkative to creepy and annoying. Lately, she's been giving them a deadpan stare and telling them that she's the lizard queen, followed by an extensive cross-examination on their views about organ donation. It has about a ninety percent success rate.
Leslie has put April in charge of teen programming, much to April's dismay. To everyone's surprise, it seems to be working, even though her original goal was to run programs no-one would come to. Her guest speaker "ask an undertaker" program was standing room only, and the extreme smoothie competition is set to become an annual event, even though Leslie nixed dog food as an ingredient for next year. April has a growing group of kids at her programs each week who could kindly be described as misfits, and find her equal parts terrifying and fascinating. She will forever deny that the puppy adopt-a-thon was her idea.
It's probably a good thing April doesn't know that Donna is considering putting her in charge of the high school-aged pages in the fall. She will terrify them with an iron, arbitrary, and occasionally benevolent fist, and they will quickly learn that texting in the stacks, or sneaking in one headphone to listen to music while shelving, in strict violation of Section 3.2.7 of the staff handbook, will result in experiencing her best pterodactyl shriek imitation in the other ear when you are least expecting it, followed by punishment duty Windexing dirty picture book covers for the next month.
After an extensive three-week training course that Leslie created from the ground up, Andy has officially taken on the role of Dewey the Bookworm for the summer reading program. There was a multi-part final involved. He passed the essay segment on the fourth try when Leslie hit on the idea of having him submit it as song lyrics, and narrowly avoided breaking bones on the obstacle course practical assignment in full costume. He's become a regular guest at the puppet show the rest of the year, with his guitar. Last month, there was some added excitement when he climbed into the air ducts and emerged with Mr Bitey, a special wildlife guest. Possums are no longer welcome at puppet show.
Donna and April have developed a method of steering Andy in the direction of the one bank of internet computers that face the back wall, by relocating the snack vending machine at the end of the row. Leaving some spare change in his path at the right moment guarantees that he'll wander right past the back row, then followed by "Hey, are you looking at PORN? In the LIBRARY? Ewww, that is nasty!" carrying across the library in Andy's loud, clear speaking voice. Some days, public shaming is even more effective than a six month ban. Unless it's one of the Saperstein siblings, in which case holding up a toddler to pull the fire alarm really is your best option. Ideally, the library would move the internet stations to a more visible location, but that would require rewiring the network cables and coring into concrete to do it, which costs a lot more than quarters for the vending machine. And this way is more fun.
Ann Perkins is forever grateful for ebooks and the self-check machine, because as much as she knows that patron records are confidential and as many times as she's heard Leslie recite the ALA's Library Bill of Rights off by heart, she'd still rather not look Donna, or god forbid, Tom, in the eye while checking out the regency pirate romances that are her secret guilty-pleasure reading addiction. She's organizing a drop-in flu shot clinic at the library for the winter. Leslie has a binder made up already with alphabetized tabs of contingency plans cross-indexed by severity and likelihood of occurrence. Ann isn't sure that they'll need the flood, earthquake, or rationing system for vaccine shortages for causes ranging from raccoon-related delivery delays to Eagleton-related municipal espionage. The last flu shot clinic was picketed, not by anti-vaccine protesters, but because the residents of Pawnee have confused vaccinations and blood donation, and were upset that there were no cookies and juice. This time, Ann will bring refreshments.
Chris Traeger once reclassified the library as an essential service, at Leslie's urging. ("Literacy IS essential, Chris!") Until the first blizzard, because essential services aren't allowed to shut down for poor weather conditions. Ron snowshoed to work, and kept the pipes from freezing with a butane camp stove and a carefully angled battery-operated fan. He was the only one who made it in, staff or public. It was the best work day of his career to date. Chris currently volunteers in his spare time by organizing an audiobook running club, which is exactly what it sounds like.
Leslie loves Ben, but secretly suspects that if he worked in libraries, he would be a cataloguer. Ben's organizing a multi-day Cones of Dunshire tournament, but is running into schedule conflicts with Tom, who's got the program room booked for an educational lecture series for small business community partners. Ben has a sneaking suspicion it's a multi-level marketing scheme.
Jeremy Jamm is THAT board member, the last person you want to speak to the media (or really, anyone) on your behalf, and who will show up like clockwork for any function where there's an open bar. He once got arrested at the state library conference's opening reception for an incident involving the association president's oldest daughter, a convertible, and a case of mistaken identity--or so he claims. The rest of that year's conference was the most relaxing event Leslie's attended since he joined the board. He's been trying to broker a deal with Sweetums to sponsor the summer reading program for the past eight months, even though it's in flagrant violation of two board policies and six operational guidelines.
Tammy Swanson is head of the Parks Department. Leslie has recently learned that Tammy is angling to have a park built on Lot Forty-Eight. Lot Forty-Eight, future home of Pawnee's first branch library, the best branch library ever. But Leslie's development plans are shovel-ready, she has all the matching grant funds in place, and her community needs assessment is a thing of beauty in twelve colour-coded, cross indexed binders with a custom-built multimedia presentation.
It will be several more years before the branch library is built. In its first year of operation, the roof will leak, the air conditioning will be nonexistent, and there will be a raccoon infestation of hideous, unimaginable proportions. The roof will be fixed, the raccoons will be evicted, and the air conditioning will work--intermittently. And it will be a labour of love. Because Leslie Knope loves libraries. (And hates the Parks Department, but that's neither here nor there.)