Last summer someone gave me a beat-up copy of World of Archie (Comics) Double Digest 45 (January 2015) that has an Archie story that happens completely inside a library! It’s the mother lode! There are five librarians in it!
The story is “Book Returns,” originally from Archie 480 (February 1999). It starts with the gang sitting at a table at the Riverdale Public Library … and a middle-aged male librarian is saying, “SHHHHHHHH!” He says it’s the third time he’s told them to be quiet. The gang are upset.
That librarian is terrible. This is a dreadful way to deal with high school students who are talking a bit too loud. Look at what Reggie’s saying: “It’s obvious that we’re not welcome here, people.” Driving a student away from a library should never happen.
However (this being an Archie story) the gang are cheerful and positive, and they begin to reminisce about things that happened at the library when they were kids. They’re all mishaps: Jughead let a bunch of dried leaves fly around, Betty was on roller skates and knocked over a librarian, and Reggie accidentally set off a smoke bomb instead of a stink bomb. It’s during these stories that we see three of the other librarians; the fifth is a smiling middle-aged black woman (with eyeglasses) who’s shelving some books.
Why do the gang keep coming back? Because of the books, Archie says, naming Treasure Island, Black Beauty and The Cat in the Hat. “Our best memories of the library are the great books we used to read! That’s why we used to come here … and that’s why we keep coming back!”
While they’re standing around talking about how much they love the library (Jughead even says, “I like reading almost as much as eating!”) the librarian comes over to tell them again to be quiet. The gang march out shouting “Reading rules!” The librarian’s angry gesticulations knock some books off a shelf.
All librarians should read this story. The attitude of the teenagers is wonderful, and the response of this male librarian is a lesson in how not to behave.
“Book Returns” was written by George Gladir, pencilled by Stan Goldberg, inked by Mike Esposito, coloured by Barry Grossman and lettered by Bill Yoshida. It is copyright Archie Comic Publications.