Humanities Projects in the Expanding
Library Situation of the Future

A paper by Prof. D.P. Gumby of the Institute of Hitting Yourself on the Head with Walls*

presented by

Michael Palin, Head Keeper,
the D.P. Gumby Memorial Brain Park

This paper was especially written by Mr. Gumby and his doctors for the State Library of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg, and was delivered in front of an univited audience at the North Oxford Waste Reprocessing Depot in April of 1981. - M.P.

Good evening. (Shouts of "Get away from that waste - it's toxic!") I'd like to talk today about the most efficient, cost-effective use of a coordinated, integrated program of applied structuring of humanities facilities in the libraries of the future. But I can't because I don't understand any of the words... the words... the words. (Here Professor Gumby became emotional and began to strike the side of his head sharply and repeatedly with his right foot)

...That's always the trouble isn't it... Words! Words just bore the underpants off people. All people want is a wall to bang their head against. That's the trouble with libraries - they go and stack books against the wall, just to stop people banging their heads against them. If only libraries would wake up to the fact that everyone in the future is only going to be interested in bricks. How big they are. Where they come from. How much they cost, and - most important of all - how quickly can you make them into a wall to bang your head against? Only when these questions are answered will the libraries of the future begin to earn the enormous state submarines (he probably meant "subsidies." - M.P.)(or "sausages." - Prof. Enid Gumby) that are poured into them by the wretched taxpayer.

I saw a book in the library the other day marked THOUGHTS. What good is that to anybody? Who wants to know about what other people think and do and say and hope for and love and write and paint and create? Eurggggghh!

I tell you, when I hear the word "culture" I reach for my wall. Let's keep libraries parcit...prasti...practical!

Down with thort! Long Live Lumps (on the side of the head).


The article also contains a photo with the caption: "Prof. Gumby delivering his renined...renuned...renowned library address on the grounds of the reprocessing depot."

*Believed to be the shortest paper ever delivered on any subject, apart from Prof. N.Z. Gumby's excellent History of the World in One Grunt, reports Mr. Palin.

As to Mr. Palin's meteoric rise from international television and film stardom to the pages of American Libraries, it happened this way:

In fall 1980, ALA member Leandra C. Fox was coordinating a National Endowment for the Humanities project for the State Library of Pennsylvania, setting up programming and PR workshops for participants throughout the state. To enliven her communications, she asked a select few "funny humanists" for their comments on humanities and libraries. Palin was approached because of the vast amount of research involved in the Monty Python brand of satire. Although Palin's response arrived too late for the project, Pennsylvania State Librarian Elliot Shelkrot alerted American Libraries to the letter, and both Fox and Palin kindly consented to its national premiere in this issue.

This article by Michael Palin appeared in the January 1982 issue of American Libraries.

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