Luck ran out for Trinity students’ good-luck study charm, Gnome Chomsky, over winter break. Jason Hardin, manager of access services for Coates Library, discovered that the gnome, who students had been able to check out from the circulation desk, had been irreparably damaged.
“The truth is that I don’t know how it happened. It was over break, shortly after finals, and a student had checked him out and returned him and I noticed a hairline crack,” Hardin said. “Once I looked more closely, the crack was clearly a full fracture, and then he came apart in my hands.”
Although Hardin does not know exactly how Gnome Chomsky came to his demise, no foul play is suspected, and Hardin suspects a previous injury may be to blame.
“There was glue residue on the inside from a previous break, but there’s no telling how long ago that happened,” Hardin said.
Students have long checked out the gnome (hundreds of times, Hardin estimates) from the library’s circulation desk as a study partner hoping that he would bring them good luck, but the gnome’s origins remain shrouded in mystery.
“I thought it was a myth until my friends and I asked, almost jokingly, if we could check it out. We used it to study the night before a test,” said junior Drew Dinkens.
Hardin remains at a loss when trying to explain the gnome’s first appearance at Trinity, although he estimates that it came to Trinity in 2003.
“When I first came to Trinity about 11 years ago, I worked the midnight shift at the circulation desk. I was by myself at the desk with my back turned to the desk and when I turned around, I swear, the gnome was just there,” Hardin said. “It was a suggestion from a student that people be able to check him out and take him places.”
After the gnome first appeared and became available to students, the library held a naming contest in the fall of 2005 to give a moniker to the newest addition to Trinity’s traditions.
Jordan Marshall, ’07, won the contest with the name Gnome Chomsky, an homage to the linguist Noam Chomsky. Marshall was listed as an author in the library catalog entry for Gnome Chomsky.
With the passing of Gnome Chomsky, the library has decided to hold another naming contest to name the new gnome. The author of the winning entry will be listed in the library’s online catalog as the bestower of the moniker.
Students can submit their entries to circulation night supervisor Molly Pylant, who is running the contest, at firstname.lastname@example.org
“The name should be something creative, something that makes you chuckle and has a story behind it,” Pylant said.
Archivist and special collections librarian Amy Roberson has no idea as to what the new name could be.
“How can you beat Gnome Chomsky?” Roberson said. “I don’t know, but I’m really excited to see what happens.”
Others, like sophomore Kate Cuellar who works in Special Collections, have some specific ideas.
“I think its name should be Bigglebottom, because every gnome should be named Bigglebottom,” Cuellar said.
Regardless of its name, the gnome will continue to carry on a Trinity tradition.
“As an archivist and someone who spends a lot of time on Trinity traditions, I love that we have the gnome,” Roberson said. “It’s especially fun to talk about with new students. It breaks the ice, and they can see the library as this odd, fun and quirky place.”
Hardin wants the tradition of checking out the gnome to stay alive and well, and he hopes the naming contest will do just that.
“I hope this will raise the gnome’s profile and create a renewed interest and enthusiasm in the gnome,” Hardin said. “I hope students will have fun with it, the fun of adopting a serendipitous mascot and him becoming a library tradition.”
Joe O'Connell is the Campus Pulse editor of the Trinitonian. He is a senior economics major from Dallas, Texas.