austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

The bells of Queens must ring tonight

I finally got a replacement library card to my alma mater's libraries. I'd had one years ago, but I'd let it fade out of existence as I started living year-round in another state and then in another continent. You had to borrow at least one book a year to maintain the card's validity, and they were just too far away, and I had other university libraries at my disposal, and I lost the card. I probably should have got a card before, but I run at my own pace. There's a new twist, though, where to get an alumni library card you first have to go to the alumni office and have them produce an alumni identification card. So I'd called them up to ask if I needed to bring in anything to prove who I was, and they said no, just give them some time to warn that I was coming up.

While the card is kept at the very nice alumni office front desk, and is enclosed in a nice envelope with a covering sheet of respectable-grade paper the way a wedding invitation would be, without the blotting tissue paper, the card itself is a bit lacking. It's not some sharp card with a holographic representation of the school's logo Federalist buildings. It's just a business card with my name written in, in blue ballpoint pen, amounting to a basic note that the alumni office says this person actually did graduate. It's the sort of card you could only forge on your inkjet printer at home if you made the slightest effort. It's hard not to suspect the alumni office just wanted to inject themselves into the system without actually working at it, but then why the reasonably classy envelope? I note the alumni office hasn't heard that I'm a PhD, and I'm not going to tell them.

But at the main desk of the main library -- which I insist on thinking of as the new main desk, since it was only installed there in renovations completed in 1993 -- the student working the desk accepted the card and went to work making up my alumni card. I chatted a bit in a rare feat of managing small-talk, where I passed on to him my question: my school's code number is 12. Why? Given that it's the organizational descendant of the original school, shouldn't it be 01? (The school numbers don't match alphabetical order either, even if you consider former names of schools.) He had no idea, but gave me my card anyway.

I did notice that the renovated portions of the library -- a good-size wing was added from 1992-94 -- still look about as good as they did when they were new. This shows either how well they chose materials that would age gracefully, or that they weren't all that fancy when they were new either.

Trivia: By 1902 the Rutgers library had collected about 50,000 volumes, four-fifth of them since Irving S Upson became librarian in 1884. Source: Rutgers: A Bicentennial History, Richard P McCormick.

Currently Reading: The Collapsium, Wil McCarthy.


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