Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Missing the obvious

It occurred to me why undergrads might (rightly) have less reverence for the Reg than do grad students, and why Reg-reverence among undergrads might increase as one goes from first- to fourth-year: The more you control what courses you're taking (and thus which work you're doing at the library), the more positive associations you'll have with the place. An undergrad at Chicago, much like a high school student, is taking a bit of everything, and, though Chicago classes tend to be on a much higher level than what one encounters in most high schools, a first-year nevertheless ends up taking many classes not in his major, some of which he finds painful. The Core is worth it, but it isn't always fun. A grad student, on the other hand, is studying some relatively (or highly) narrow topic about which he is passionate, and thus relishes time spent in whichever part of the stacks his subject lies. Sure, there are stressful moments at the Reg, whether one is studying one's favorite thing ever or trudging through a Core requirement, but it's especially hard to think of the Reg as a temple when you're on hour five of a Core Bio lab write-up. The Reg is a fabulous resource, but if you're there to do your math homework, you're not perusing the stacks for a novel (or the equivalent for a math-oriented student fulfilling his humanities requirement).

And while I, like Will, agree with Victor's post for the most part, there's one bit I must respond to: "I also tend to regard the library-work that undergrads (and some grads) do in extremely high regard. It is a priestly function, tending to the temple." I understand that Victor is a self-proclaimed fan of irony, but I honestly cannot tell if he is using it in this case. Having done some of the aforementioned library work, I'm almost certain that none of my co-Stacks Assistants considered themselves to be fulfilling a priestly function. Granted, a person who despises libraries might not be drawn to the job, but had a grad student come up to me in the stacks while I was shelving, say, on the B-level, and told me that I was fulfilling a priestly function, I would have been stunned.

2 comments:

Victor said...

but had a grad student come up to me in the stacks while I was shelving, say, on the B-level, and told me that I was fulfilling a priestly function, I would have been stunned.First awed, then stunned. What force my prose doth have! And this from one whose Blogger profile picture shows her under the Regenstein Call Number Location Guide!

I meant it without irony. I think. The logic, though, is flawless: if the library is a temple, the tending of it is a priestly function. So rejoice, Phoebe, benedicta tu es!

Phoebe said...

Victor,

I'm no enemy of irony either, and the choice of profile picture has a bit behind it. And I don't know the tense of "es" as in "benedicta tu es", but thankfully, I am no longer tending to the temple, just doing schoolwork in it.