I am really not in the habit of quoting demented anti-Semites in my blog (especially on the first night of Hanukkah), but snow flurries were falling when I stepped out the door for work this morning, so Ezra Pound’s poem seemed appropriate. The official start of the winter solstice is still three weeks away, but since snow has fallen, that’s close enough for me.
Snow and books bracketed my day today. I hit the snooze one time too many when the alarm on my cell phone rang this morning, so I had to hurry through showering, getting dressed, and making my way out the door. I wasn’t even completely dry when I stepped onto my porch. I was wearing a hoodie when I left, but when I saw the snow falling, I turned right around and grabbed my winter coat and my gloves. While walking to the bus stop, I called my supervisor and told her I’d be just a little behind schedule. (This used to happen so often that I used to call and say, “I’ll have the usual!”) Arriving a little late means a shorter lunch hour.
I did some volunteer work after dinner tonight. One of Sporeprint Infoshop‘s offerings is a lending library, and it is in dire need of organization. Jeremy, a union organizer, posted a notice on Facebook asking people to come for a “Spore Library Work Session.” The selection of books there is quite varied, and there is quite a catholic (lower-case C) assortment of writings from the radical and anarchist Left. The bookshelves take up almost the entire west wall, and curve over toward the center of the main room.
Misfiled and disorganized books are a mixed bag. I have gone into bookstores in search of a particular volume, and, while searching for it, I’ve found a treasure completely out of the blue. If it had been shelved where it belonged, I never would have encountered it. On the other hand, I realize the truth of the librarians’ maxim: A mis-shelved book is a lost book.
A mis-shelved book at Sporeprint is not necessarily gone forever. Their selection is not as vast as Ohio State’s, or Widener Library at Harvard, or even our own Columbus Metropolitan Library, but one careless person putting a book in the wrong place, with no indication of where the book belongs, can cause a person to waste much time searching for it.
The project is not finished–far from it–but Jeremy set up a good system. He armed us with small stickers (to go on the books’ spines). I brought a stack of books from one shelf, and then looked inside the book. Just past the title page, I’d search for the Library of Congress call number, which publishers usually (but not always, as we learned!) print along with other cataloging information. (An example: I just pulled down Allen Ginsberg’s Journals Mid-Fifties. Its call number is PS3513.174Z473 1995.)
Another person, Ben, stood by at one of Sporeprint’s two PCs. He pulled up the Library of Congress‘ Website, and we made a pile of all the books that had no call numbers printed inside. He would take each book and type the title into the database, and then make call number stickers based on what came up.
We worked until about 8:45, and made tentative plans to continue the project in a week or two. I was a little disappointed, because I was on a roll, and having a blast looking for the call numbers and writing them on the small stickers. My only complaint was that I had bad luck with my pens. They either didn’t write, or wrote too lightly, or the ink would smear no matter how gently you handled the books. I looked like the President signing a new bill into law. He uses several pens when doing this, so he can give them away as souvenirs.
I may have gotten even more work done if I had a two-liter of Diet Pepsi at my elbow, but that’s a no-no tonight. I’ll be going back to the Martha Morehouse Medical Plaza tomorrow morning (taking a vacation day from work) and getting another MRI, another MRI that they’ll pay me for, not vice versa. They sent me an email saying I should lay off caffeine for 12 hours prior to the examination. (It’s a cardiac MRI, and I’m going to earn the money this time. They’re giving me an IV dye and putting me on the treadmill this time. The last time I was just on my back with my head in a dryer-like apparatus, listening to WOSU-FM the entire time.)
In the evening, I’m heading to the Linden area to pick up an IBM Wheelwriter, the first electric typewriter I’ve ever owned. (The soon-to-be-ex-owner and I have been exchanging emails and playing phone tag about my picking this machine up since I saw on Columbus Freecycle that he had it available for anyone who wanted it.)
My current audiobook at work is reflective, I suppose, of the volunteer work I did tonight. I finished Dracula this afternoon, and began Allison Hoover Bartlett’s The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, the story of Charles Gilkey, a man who was a notorious book and document thief, not because of the vast fortune it would bring, but out of a obsession with owning and hoarding books, where bibliophilia crossed over into bibliomania, which is classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s a form of hoarding, much like the person who dies in a cluttered house with 30+ cats and each room stacked floor to ceiling with yellowing back issues of The New York Times.