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Long time coming

So. The academic library that employs me is an aggregation of earlier, smaller academic libraries. This may be connected to the history of the academic institution that houses it, as it is an aggregation of earlier, smaller academic institutions. But that’s as may be. The result is that there are lots of books that are marked "Science Library" or "College of Women" or some such, and we have to train our student workers to recognize which indicate actual special collections with special shelving locations, and which are just ghost markers. Not a big deal.

I mention it only because of an incident yesterday, when a professor turned up a box full of books in his office, and because he could not return them to the Science Library that no longer exists, returned them to us.

The Science Library, by the way, hasn’t existed for twenty years.

The thing about academic library work—that’s not a particularly impressive version of that story. It’s just the one that happened yesterday. The impressive version of that story hasn’t happened for a couple of years. That’s the one where the professor’s widow donates his academic books to the library (where the deceased would have wanted them to be), a legacy largely consisting of our own missing books. And that’s at our library; when we start talking about what we’ve heard other places…

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,


My favorite is still the faculty member who wants to recall a book that is checked out of the library, only to find that it's checked out to her.

In grad school, I had a professor who had checked out the maximum number of books the library allowed. The librarians lived in minor dread that he would one day return them, since they had long since used that shelf space for other books.

I have definitely recalled books checked out to me, probably more than once.

In my undergraduate days, long long ago, my prof suggested a particular book was necessary for my paper, and sent me to the library to get it. It was out to him and on his shelf at the time. Of course, the library might have had another copy.


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