Visitors to the Townsville campus library over the past few years may be familiar with our Library Gorilla, Algernon.
Algernon has been with us since before the naming of the Eddie Koiki Mabo Library, and has probably been a "member of staff" longer than some of our librarians.
Algernon is, in fact, the treasured childhood toy of one of our medical students. Lauren P has had him since she was about one year old (he looks pretty good for a 20+ year old stuffed gorilla), and kindly lent him to us for a jungle-themed display. You may remember Lauren - she worked in the library on the lending services desk for a couple of years, and her picture still turns up on our website from time-to-time.
When she didn't come to collect him after the jungle display, he became something of a fixture in our office - sitting on whatever seat happened to be available. Then we decided that, as long as he was with us, we may as well keep using him in displays...
Algernon became the face for many of our displays over the years. At first we used him as a decoration, but as he became more of a character, we let him "design" the displays for us - we ran with books "chosen" (as well as presented) by our resident gorilla. He also wrote a number of blog posts for us.
At one point we even faked his death - but it was all revealed to be a plot worthy of a pulp fiction novel, involving an evil twin brother and a detective that looked suspiciously like a giant papier-mâché curlew...
Lauren was happy for us to keep him around, as long as she was still a student here at JCU. He really was adopted as part of the team. He may have even joined us for a couple of parties over the years, but it's probably best if you don't tell Lauren about that. Let's just say there *might* be photographic evidence of a librarian dancing with a stuffed gorilla.
With the refurbishment of the Ground Floor of the library building, and the relocation of the staff, it became harder to use Algie in displays. Always mindful of the fact that he was on loan to us, we wanted to make sure that his displays where within sight of our office. When that became impossible, we weren't comfortable about leaving him out on his own.
He remained a fixture of our office, though. While you might not have seen him for a while, we see him every day. He's been a part of our team for years.
But Lauren has graduated, and is moving on (congratulations, Lauren!), and now it's time for Algernon to go home.
Today we had a morning tea to say goodbye to Algie (oh, and to Anne, who is leaving us for a year on secondment). We wish him (and Lauren - and Anne, for that matter) all the best. He has been the best stuffed gorilla to ever work in this library.