Miskatonic University Press

Two stories about Betty at the library

archie libraries

There are two back-to-back Riverdale Public Library stories about Betty in B&V Friends Jumbo Comics Digest 258 (March 2018).

First is “Keep Those Library Doors Open,” written by George Gladir, pencilled by Jeff Shultz, inked by Al Milgrom, lettered by Jack Morelli and coloured by Barry Grossman. It originally appeared in Betty and Veronica Double Digest 186.

Here’s the first panel, where Betty, Veronica and Nancy ask the librarian, Ms. Alvarez, about the situation.

First panel of Keep the Library Doors Open
First panel of Keep the Library Doors Open

This is a branch library, not the central one (in fact this is the first time I’ve seen a mention that the Riverdale Public Library has more than one branch). Mr. Lodge knows what’s going on, as Veronica learns: “Our city’s tax revenue is down drastically—and the special bond issue to fund the library was voted down! However, our city’s main library will remain open.” Veronica is not satisfied: “It won’t be enough! I’m told demand for library services has never been greater!”

They all go to city council (apparently Mr. Lodge is powerful enough in Riverdale to have an item immediately added to the agenda), where Ms. Alvarez pleads for more time. “All we ask is the opportunity to try some measures to stall the closing of our library … like reducing hours and recruiting volunteers!” It works: a month later, because of the cost-cutting measures, the library is allowed to stay open.

This kind of situation happens regularly, sad to say, but in a real city there would be more long-term planning (a city council wouldn’t allow one branch to stay open for one more month on the spur of the moment) and the chief librarian would also be involved. However, for the sake of the story, narrowing the focus works well. Of course, it’s great to see a story of public activism successfully keeping a library open.

On the other hand, the solution presented is not sustainable in the long term. A better one would be to raise taxes, especially on families like the Lodges.

The second story is “Check It Out,” written by Kathleen Webb, pencilled by Stan Goldberg, inked by John Lowe and lettered by Bill Yoshida (there is no colouring credit). I’m not sure when it originally appeared, but it looks like the 2000s. (This is not the same as another “Check It Out!”, which I haven’t seen, where Archie and Reggie join the library club because there’s an attractive librarian.)

This is a delightful story all about a wonderful visit Betty takes to the library. Unlike the “Keep Those Library Doors Open,” here Veronica doesn’t care about the library at all: she says, “I just don’t see what she gets in that mausoleum for nerds!”

Panel from Check it Out
Panel from Check it Out

Betty searches the library catalog (an OPAC) for books to help with a school assignment, then notices some new fashion history books and some new style magazines. She uses the library computers to do research on the web, too. While she’s working the librarian, Ms. Dewey, comes over and does some reader’s advisory.

Another panel from Check it Out
Another panel from Check it Out

Next, Betty sees a DVD of a movie Archie hasn’t seen, and takes out it and a cookbook so she can make a new dish for an evening together. She seems some little kids she babysits and reads them a story, then gets a CD, then runs into a tough-looking motorcyclist she knows who happens to be getting Crocheting Doilies Made Easy, which he claims is for his mother.

After Ms. Dewey checks out her books, Betty says, “There’s nothing like an afternoon at the library!” This is great story about all the things public libraries have to offer.