Monday, November 19, 2007

Going to the library

I've got a meeting up on the university campus this afternoon. I'll take the opportunity to go to the library to browse. That's one of my great pleasures, browsing in libraries of all kinds. At the KU library, I love going into the old Dewey Decimal stacks to wander through the holdovers from before the library converted to the Library of Congress Classification. I spend most of my time downstairs in Anschutz in 398.2, where folktales and fairy tales live. Or maybe they just sleep, until I breathe them back to life.

I'm a little worried, though. Space is a perennial problem in libraries and it is only a matter of time before those Dewey books get put deeper into storage. Their home in Anschutz is already partial exile. If they go into full exile, I'll still be able to find them by using the catalog, but that's not the same as browsing, flipping through a collection of stories, finding one that will be just right to tell. It might be the sixth or seventh time I look at a book before a story hits me just right.

Even as I write this, I remember that it has been a few months since I went up to Anschutz--what if the books are gone already, locked up never to see the light of day? I mourned the day that I discovered that my favorite volumes in that section were only available to be borrowed overnight, instead of the regular loan period of six months, because they're periodicals. That was the Revue des traditions populaires, a French publication from about 1884-1911. I'm pretty sure I was the only person to use them.

Off to the library to see what I can find.

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