Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The rest of this stack of books had better be amazing

Say you're at the library and you decide you want to leave for lunch. This happened to me today, strangest of things. I tried to leave but Non! Not allowed. Had some invisible French scanners deemed my girth already sufficient? Non. I still had documents that needed to be returned, the message explained. I had, however, returned all my documents. Several arguments later, and after I had to go make a show of checking that I hadn't left them at my spot, lo and behold one of the documents had not been scanned back in. Finally, I was able to take a sortie temporaire and get a bowl of pho.

One soup later and I was back at the library. Was I allowed back in? No such luck. My reservation had expired and I'd lost not only my spot but all the books I'd reserved. Given that the books were waiting for me, I had idiotically not recorded what those books were, and there's no way to check this retroactively. When I'd left, I'd verified that I was making the temporary exit, and I'd put my card in the sortie temporaire tray and everything. More arguing. Eventually, I finagled my way into getting a new spot and the books that had apparently not been reshelved. So far so good, kind of. Considering this is a library where you have to swipe your card when returning from the bathroom, like some kind of hall pass for adults, none of this was terribly surprising.

The book I'd been most eager to see contained, according to the bibliography of an Italian book on a topic related to mine, an article in French on what sounded like exactly my topic. The Italian had, it seemed, misattributed the article to an adjacent author in that issue's table of contents, and immediately upon figuring out the real author, I knew that this was nothing other than the article version of a book I'd already read and not much needed about postwar American Jewish novelists.

Staying home and using digitized sources never looked so good.

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