WHO: Curbside Larry, the instantly iconic pitchman of the Harris County Public Library.
WHAT: A parody of a late-night local used car ad that sells you books for the low price of free, free, free.
WHY IT’S SO GREAT: Like the rest of us, librarians are anxious, stressed, bored, and trying their very best to do a good job in this uncertain time. They have a little more time on their hands than they used to, and are looking for creative ways to accomplish things that used to be much easier. (In their case, getting books to the people who want to read them.) And the Harris County Public Library figured out one clever way to do that: creating a hero who, in these troubled times, reassures library patrons that there is still a safe way for them to nurture their minds and inner selves through the written word, at no cost. That hero is Curbside Larry.
Curbside Larry debuted in late July, and found Internet fame a few weeks later for his used-car-salesman hucksterism, shilling curbside pickup of library books from the Barbara Bush Branch Library. Look at him up there: the blue polo, the aviators, the gas station cowboy hat. Is that not a face that you can trust? Does his sales pitch not inspire confidence that every single book he suggests to you is one that you desperately need in your life? When he tells you they got romance and DVDs, do you not believe him?
Curbside service at the Barbara Bush Branch Library was already robust when the character—played by library staffer John Schaffer—was created. But according to Clara Maynard, the branch’s manager, Curbside Larry has brought even more awareness to the curbside pickup option at the library—and he’ll continue to do so, as she says that this isn’t the last we’ll see of the character. Schaffer, she says, has received a well-deserved promotion, and will be spending more time as both Curbside Larry and other characters to bring even more attention to the Harris County Public Library. In times like these, we’ll look for our unlikely heroes wherever they may appear—and when we pull up to the curb, we’ll open the trunks to our hearts, and let them crawl inside.