October 28th, 2005

krazy koati

You'll find that it's stranger than known

I'm still not used to the idea that, as Faculty, I can go to the library and just borrow a bound volume of journals. It's only a three-day loan, but still, I can take it off the shelf and leave with it -- or, as happened today, I can ask for a volume from the closed stacks and get it. Of course this turned into a minor production. I took the first volume I needed, which was on the open shelves, to the circulation desk, and asked how I went about requesting something from the closed shelves. The librarian asked when I had ordered the closed-stack volume if it wasn't there yet. Well, I hadn't ordered it yet. ``Oh, then we don't have it for you.'' Granted, but I can forgive them this time.

The librarian directed me to the reference desk librarian, who was happy to help if I knew what I needed, as soon as I showed my faculty ID card. I had the journal name -- no mean feat, because academic journals tend to have names like Communications on the Proceedings of Advances in Methods that get shortened in citations to things like Com P Ad Md, thereby saving whole seconds of the writing of a paper, and turning the simplest search for a paper into a nasty Chuck Woolery Scrabble bonus round -- and volume number, year of publication, and internal reference code number. ``Do you know what issue it was?'' ... I hope she was joking, but I turned over the page numbers just the same. She told me it'd be about ten minutes, and I should wait nearby.

It turned out she meant that literally. I wandered over to some of the reference book stacks -- which are four feet high, and maybe ten feet from the desk, entirely within the line of sight -- and she waved at me, quite concerned that I might get lost. And two library aides were roped in to get the volume to me, so that (honestly) it only took five minutes; I had barely started skimming a book of mathematical quotations when it was there. I'm still thrown by the whole ``borrowing journals'' thing, though. I feel like they ought to at least require me to be tenture-track.

Trivia: Following the 1878 Treaty of Berlin and four years of negotiation, the Ottoman government agreed to pay down its £32 million debt to the Russian government in annual installments of £320,000 annually through 1982. The Tsar waived interest charges. Source: The Decline and Fall of the Ottoman Empire, Alan Palmer.

Currently Reading: Molecules at an Exhibition, John Emsley.