Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Librarians Fix Everything

I want you to know I'm not one of those chauvinists who thinks the kind of person she is is likely to be superior to everyone else. For example, I'm Jewish, but I don't think Jews are automatically smarter/better/more cultured than others. I know, the people of the book: tell me about it. The people of the goddam book. When I was a Judaica librarian all this translated into was, they kept sending us books and we had to catalogue them and put them in the collection and nobody cared. Nobody was reading most of those things. So okay, Jews write a lot of books, but I have no illusions that it translates into much in the way of intrinsic value.

Similarly, I'd like to think that lesbians are better, nobler people than others, but in fact I find we run the gamut. My girlfriend, of course, comes out on top of pretty much any scale in terms of overall fabulosity; but otherwise, you can't jump to any conclusions.

But when it comes to another group to which I belong, I feel I can make some generalizations, to wit:

1. Librarians Want You to Get What You Want
2. Librarians Have Heard It Before and Thought of a Workaround
3. Librarians Fix Everything

The occasion for this rumination is the acquisition of my temporary Faculty Library Card at UBC. Here's the thing. You can't get a library card until you have a Campus-Wide Login (CWL). You can't get a CWL until you have an employee ID. You can't get an employee ID until Human Resources says so. Human Resources goes to sleep through August, apparently.

This means that for a lowly adjunct such as myself, I might not get a library card until well into the semester in which I'm teaching. (Apparently I also might not get paid in September, but one battle at a time). This would be dire at all times, but especially during a public library strike. Do people normally prepare lectures around here, or what?

Librarians to the rescue. Barely had I launched into my tale of woe at the circ desk at Koerner Library when the librarians were explaining to each other how to make me a temporary card and how long it could last. I showed them my letter of appointment, and five minutes later I had my card. It has a purple stripe and says "Faculty" on it. I love my library card. I took out two books and recalled four. Probably some future students of mine are using them. I don't care! I'll see your lousy graduate student card and raise you one faculty card!

In the picture above (mmmwa! I love my camera phone) I am standing contentedly in front of Koerner. I had to position the sun behind my head and use a flash so that you would be able to see both me and the library. While I was standing there two groups of tourists went by and one member of each group explained to the others that the library is shaped like an open book turned face down on the table. The rounded atrium is the spine of the book and the two wings are the pages. Since I heard the same thing twice in five minutes, I have to assume this is something in either a guidebook or on the UBC web site. In two years of graduate school at UBC shortly after the construction of Koerner I never heard this story. If it's trying to look like a book, the proportions are all wrong, for one thing. And for another thing, I hope they aren't giving the impression that turning a book face down is an acceptable way to treat your library books. People! I beg you! Use a bookmark!

In retrospect I feel a bit bad about complaining of too many Shadbolts in Koerner Library. They actually may only have one Shadbolt, but any Shadbolts are really more than I care to contemplate. But in the end, what's the defect of a Shadbolt--even a relatively large one--compared to the incredible joy the Koerner librarians brought into my life today?

No comments: