Singing Librarian flashback: S Club Library

Last weekend’s charity concert of The Pirates of Penzance put me in mind of another charity singing event, and one that was much stranger than dressing up as a pirate and a policeman.  I was, however briefly, a pop star.  With screaming fans, signed photos, farewell performances and everything else that goes with great fame.

When I joined the merry staff of the Library of Doom, men were few and far between on the front line, and young men even more of a scarce commodity.  But after a while, a number of young men were recruited almost simultaneously and someone remarked that we now had enough to form a boy band.  The seeds of a very silly idea were sown.  As the annual fund-raising opportunity of  the BBC’s Children in Need appeal approached, I decided to attempt transforming this ridiculous idea into a reality.  Why not, for one performance only, form a library boy band to raise some cash for this very worthy cause?  Unfortunately, one of my colleagues chickened out after initially agreeing to take part, and we were left with a trio, including one chap who just can’t sing (much like many members of real boy bands, then).  The obvious solution was to invite a couple of carefully selected young lady library staff members and form S Club Library, a take-off of a group who were very popular at the time (November 2002).

Weeks were spent in careful preparation.  Approaching senior library staff for permission to use a staff development session for a frivolous purpose, carefully seeding a teaser advertising campaign, working out the details of our performance, writing parodic lyrics, rehearsing simple choreography, losing another member of the group and generally sneaking off to practice without too many others getting wind of exactly what we were doing.  One of the most amusing moments of this period of frenzied activity came when we were putting the moves for our finale together in a seminar room we’d booked for the purpose.  We did not know that a room use survey was being carried out, and the look on the young student’s face as he came in to check that the room was occupied, only to be confronted with a group of dancing librarians, was a sight to behold.  It took us quite some time to persuade him that we were indeed the people who had booked the room.

The day of our concert approached, a day which happened to be my 24th birthday.  We engaged someone from the AV team to take photos of the group members and the group as a whole in appropriately exciting poses around the university pond.  On the morning itself, we changed into our brightly-coloured t-shirts with our new names picked out in sequins, we put up posters and guide arrows (this was before the library opened, I feel I should point out) leading to the library’s seminar room.  We hid ourselves away, ready to make our entrance, and before long we heard a chant go up – ‘We want S Club!  We want S Club!  We want S Club!’  Once the crowd of librarians and related staff had reached fever pitch, we made our dramatic entry and began our set, only to be interrupted briefly by the most senior librarian of all telling us to keep the noise down.  A brave member of staff went out to remind her what we were doing while we continued moving to the funky, funky beat. 

The set began with a perfectly normal cover version of S Club 7’s ‘Don’t Stop Moving’ to get everyone in the mood.  After this, we launched into a medley of parodies of then-popular songs, having changed the lyrics to make them relevant to the Library of Doom.  Much hilarity ensued, covering our variable vocal performances and interesting attempts at dancing.  When we reached our finale, a library version of S Club’s ‘Reach’ which still gets sung by Library of Doom inhabitants from time to time, we got everyone clapping along, and even managed to get some of the librarians up and dancing with us.

The one and only concert appearance of S Club Library over, we swiftly prepared for the building to be opened, counted our takings and set about selling signed photos for an additional contribution to Children in Need.  S Club Library fan stickers and posters appeared around a number of people’s desks and everyone was talking about the event for quite some time afterwards.  Our endeavours raised over £200 for the charity, which pleased us a great deal.  Before long, two of our group of four had moved on to better things and the band could never, thank goodness, be revived.  But it still comes up in conversation from time to time, and we can be pleased to know that our hard work will have made a difference to someone, somewhere.

If you’re really interested to know exactly what we performed, I have previously posted the lyrics over at h2g2.

  1. I loved this story. Especially booking a room to rehearse in and scaring the Audit-guy.

    Happy Christmas!



  2. Great story. And the kind of social ‘glue’ that helps makes somewhere a better place to work. If it happened nowadays of course there would be a video on YouTube for us all to share in the moment.

    Have a Happy Christmas.

    Music Man

  3. Thanks. It was fun to do and fun to remember. Audit people are there to be scared, in my opinion.

  4. Oh, how I wish I’d been there…. ( =

  1. September 17th, 2007
  2. September 27th, 2010
  3. January 17th, 2011

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