The Laughing Librarian presents:
Koans of the Zen Librarian

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Enlighten this page with your own Koans of the Zen Librarian . Submit your original koans to The Laughing Librarian via the Mailroom.

Buddha headNEW!

The Zen Librarian said to a patron: "If you bring back this book after its due date, you will be fined. If you do not bring back the book after its due date, you will be fined." The patron was instantly enlightened.

(Above koan submitted by Horst Prillinger, Vienna, Austria)

Buddha headNEW!

The young patron approached the Zen Librarian at the Reference Desk. "I think I have figured out what the call number is for Alan Watts' The Way of Zen!"

"Well, what is it?" asked the Zen Librarian.

"294.32," replied the young patron.

"No!" answered the Zen Librarian emphatically, returning his attention to the computer monitor. "What is the call number, then?" asked the young patron.

"294.32," replied the Zen Librarian. After the young patron went away, the Zen Librarian elaborated, "But this is an LC library."

(Above koan submitted by Curt Allred, Michigan, USA)

Buddha headNEW!

A female patron approached the Zen Librarian. The Zen Librarian asked, "What are you looking for?" 
The woman shouted.
"Come on speak!" said the Zen Librarian.
The woman shouted again.
The Zen Librarian struck her.

(Above koan submitted by Jason Lovett)

Buddha head Noticing a patron smoking, the Zen Librarian pointed to the 'No Smoking' sign overhead, then motioned for the patron to come forward. When the patron arrived at the counter, the Zen Librarian took the cigarette and used it to light the sign before returning it.

As the patron looked up in wonder, the Zen Librarian smiled slightly and added, "What you are looking for is in Fiction."

(Above koan submitted by Kyle Hawke, British Columbia, Canada) 

Buddha head  A storyteller came to the library, hoping to be hired by the Zen Librarian for a performance.

“If you’re interested, I can give the same program twice at a discounted rate,” said the storyteller. The Zen Librarian approved the contract. After the programs, the storyteller received his check. “This is only half of what you agreed to pay me,” said the storyteller.

The Zen Librarian said, “You told the same stories, but did not gave the same program twice.” The storyteller meekly tore up his check and went away to meditate.

(Above koan submitted by Brady Carlson, New Hampshire, USA) 

Buddha head A student in the library computer room was trying to fix a computer by turning it off and on. The Zen Librarian told him that he cannot fix the computer by turning it off and on with no understanding of what is wrong. The Zen Librarian then told the student to turn it off and on. The computer worked fine from that point on.

(Above koan submitted by Mike Hoy, Arizona, USA) 

Buddha head A patron asked the Zen Librarian for a translation of Sartre's Being and Nothingness. The Zen Librarian gave her a torn, empty envelope from his wastebasket. Then he took it back.

(Above koan submitted by Stephen Van Buren, South Dakota, USA)

Buddha head "I am completing my thesis on the history of man. Have you any suggestions on insightful and pertinent reading material?" asked the scholar.

"Yes," replied the Zen Librarian, "eat-shit-breathe-dance, and never mind the rest."

(Above koan submitted by Slave Cave, Maryland, USA)

Buddha head The Zen Librarian was making soup. "More salt?" asked the student.

The Zen Librarian replied, "A Roth IRA may be superior to a traditional IRA if one is not going to retire in the next ten years. Consult your financial advisor."

(Above koan submitted by Anthony Wilson, Kentucky, USA)

Buddha head A patron was reading a book in the library and heard a loud meowing of a cat. She went to the Zen Librarian to complain. "The cat is irritated," said the Zen Librarian. "Why?" asked the woman. "Because you are concentrating on him rather than what you are reading."

(Above koan submitted by Bill McKenzie, Illinois, USA)

Buddha head A woman came into the library and asked, "Do you have children's books?" "Do you have the mind of a child?" asked the Zen Librarian. The woman took off her shoes. "Too intellectual," said the Zen Librarian.

(Above koan submitted by Bill McKenzie, Illinois, USA)

Buddha head A reader approached the Zen Librarian and asked, "Where is The Power of Now?" The Zen Librarian replied, "It's on order."

(Above koan submitted by Brian O'Connor, New York, USA)

Buddha headA patron came to the Zen Librarian asking, "Can you show me how to get articles from the New York Times off the Internet? I need stuff from the 1930s." 

The Zen Librarian pulled out an issue of the NYT Index, set it out on the reference desk, and began typing along its edge with both hands, gazing into the space above. After several minutes, he said, "The page beyond the back cover and the bit beyond allocated memory are both in your head. Empty your head."

The patron bowed. "You have enlightened me, master."

"You do not understand," said the Zen Librarian.

(Above koan submitted by Scott Forschler, Minnesota, USA)

Buddha head A patron was drinking in the library. The Zen Librarian noted this, walked up to him, and pointed to the no-drinking sign. As the patron kept away the bottle, the Zen Librarian took out a bottle of water, removed the no-drinking sign, and drank his drink.

(Above koan submitted by Brandon Seah KB, Singapore)

.Buddha head A student came to the Zen Librarian and said, "I need to see an article in a journal that you do not carry. Can you order it for me?" The Zen Librarian said, "You have not seen the article?" "No", the student said. "Then you don't need it," the Zen Librarian replied.

(Above koan submitted by G.S., Rhode Island, USA)

Buddha head S.R. Ranganathan said to the Zen Librarian, "Save the time of the reader, for it is valuable." The Zen Librarian replied, "But the time of the reader is finite; value is not. The reader has no value, hence his time cannot be rescued."

(Above koan submitted by Brandon Seah KB, Singapore)

Buddha head The library assistant approached the Zen Librarian with a question: "I can't find Thinking Outside the Box -- it's not on the shelf and not checked out." The Zen Librarian replied: "If you can't find the box, think outside the chicken."

(Above koan submitted by James Quinn, Nevada, USA)

Buddha head Master: Does a dog have Buddha nature? If you answer yes or no, you lose your own Buddha nature. Does a dog have Buddha nature?

Zen Librarian: Yes and no.

(Above koan submitted by Terry Ballard)


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Copyright 2004 Brian Smith. Non-commercial distribution of material from The Laughing Librarian is permitted only if the original URL and this copyright notice is included. All commercial distribution is prohibited without written consent of and large cash payments to the author.