On libraries…

Today was an adventurous day of sorts. I had a lot of little errands to wind up before my first classes start tomorrow, so this afternoon I set out to do the following things:

  • Buy the remainder of my books for class (it’s a class I’m sitting in on, but could see myself teaching in the future)
  • Get course reader for one of my grad seminars
  • Go to library to photocopy an article in a book that was placed on reserve for the above-mentioned seminar

It’s a good thing I stopped for some coffee on the way, because my little errand-a-thon turned into a two hour session of running around.

First, a bit o’ griping. My graduate seminar has 9 students in it. So can someone explain to me how only 7 course readers get copied? I got to pay in advance to get it copied “on demand,” which translates into something along the lines of: “You can demand it today, but we won’t copy the frickin’ thing until tomorrow.” Harumph, I say. So back to the copy place I go tomorrow afternoon.

I managed to buy my books for the undergrad class I’m sitting in on–another $110 (holy greenbacks Batman!) just went flying out the window.

Now, Gripe #2. The essay I have to copy is in a book that is on reserve at the library. Why it isn’t in the course reader, I don’t know. But, like the dutiful little grad student that I am, I truck on over the the building that could only be described as a 1950s-era Stalin-esque box of cement–otherwise known as the worst campus library EVER! I know I’ve mentioned this in a post somewhere before, but, this is the reading room at my former university’s library:


Stunning, no?

I couldn’t find a picture of my current library, but I think it’s probably better that way. No need to give anyone nightmares. Anyhoo, the book I needed was on a limited 2-hour reserve, meaning, it can’t leave the library. In other words, I can’t bring it over to my department, where I could copy it for free, but instead have to spend more money to copy it on site. But here’s the kicker: to use the copiers, you need a copy card, which can only be attained after traveling to a tiny unlabeled closet on the first floor, successfully solving the sphinx’s riddle, and promising your first-born child to the evil wizard hiding behind the curtain. In this little cubbyhole, you have a change machine that only gives you quarters, but two card-dispensing machines, which only take $1, $5, and $10 bills. Well, actually, they say they take $10 bills, but every other sign (in very.indignant.red) says they don’t. So I had to go find the business office (in the basement) to get the right change, return to the land of the lost, and then, voila! A cheap little plastic copy card was mine, all mine.

The next obstacle: finding an actual copy machine. After hunting around on three different floors, and leaving a little trail of breadcrumbs, I finally found one on the fourth floor in a room off the stacks and I was able to copy my 30-page article. All in all, the adventure took me an hour, when it should have taken 20 minutes, at most. It doesn’t help that they decided to substantially renovate the library two days before the beginning of the semester. In many ways it’s more convenient–there’s now a cafe near the entrance, with coffee beans roasted by my favorite local roaster. And it’s much more “open” spatially-speaking. But they took down the main circulation desk and replaced it with a bunch of little desks, most of which were still occupied by the tech guys who were still plugging in computers and trying to get things running.

Needless to say, I ended up funneling my anger from the afternoon into my workout (yeah treadmill!). And now I can only hope that I don’t have to go back to the library for a little while, or at least until I feel like solving some more riddles and/or I come across the secret treasure map and decoder ring…

8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Queen Mother on January 14, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    You just need to be thankful that they didn’t demand payment in gold nuggets that you had to pan for. Now that would have taken some time.


  2. Ahhhh, the good old days! LOL I don’t think I miss it yet.

    As for pretty libraries…I started my college career at Baylor University, a decent sized Baptist school, and one of the “libraries” on campus (more like a museum with reading rooms) was renowned for having the most stained glass west of the Mississippi or something like that. Bottom line, it was THE most beautiful building I’ve ever been in in my life. It housed the Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning collection…lots of their stuff on display. I miss that one building more than anything else to do with that university.


  3. Queen Mother: Don’t I know it! As it was, I found myself shaking my head in disbelief because it was so ridiculous!

    Andi: It’s funny, because while I was at the university, I didn’t actually spend that much time in the reading room–it was always so busy–but it was a room I would venture into when I just needed to remind myself why I was there in the first place. And, like you, it’s the one building that seems to symbolize the good aspects of my experience there, and I miss it. I’m just hoping that there are more beautiful libraries in my future!


  4. Hilarious!! So glad you survived the gaunlet!


  5. Ha–your post made me laugh. It sounds like my library, sort of. Except now students can put money on their student IDs and use all over campus rather than buying those cheap little plastic guest cards! Now you know the real test you have to pass before graduating is maneuvering all the library obstacles! 🙂 Good luck on your new semester–I hope it gets better!


  6. Heather: Now if I can just repeat the performance a few more times (albeit in less time, I hope!)

    Danielle: I love the idea of putting money on student IDs–the last thing I need in my wallet is one more piece of plastic. And I think you’re right: one of the most tedious parts about grad school is surviving the campus bureaucracy. Here’s to better luck in the future! 🙂


  7. Oh my, you’ve brought back memories I thought I had successfully repressed. Those #%^# change machines! Glad to hear you made it back alive…


  8. Melanie: the change machines are really rather ridiculous! But now I know where everything is, and I will not make the mistake of putting a $1 bill in the $5 bill card machine again! (for a second there I thought I had broken it, so I ran out in a hurry). 🙂


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