Thursday, July 11, 2013

Old School at the Library

I'm about 70% new school when it comes to libraries, which is to say I favor the bulk of modern library innovation, reserving a notable minority share of hostility to some of those innovations. My blog, however, as a blog, I feel, is decidedly old school, though possibly my blog is ditching school, or even can't find the school even though it has looked everywhere.

All of this makes me think of writing blog posts different than what this one is supposed to be about, so we'd better move on. This blog post is an instructive list of how to go it old school at your local library. It is a list, either in honor of my 30% fierce reservations and hostilities towards library evolution gone wrong, or a teasing of that tendency I often run into that resists sensible, real improvement. It is probably, actually, both of these. I'll let you work it out.

How to Rock It Old School at your Library

1. Never use the term "Old School." You should not even know what it means.

2. Arrive at your library on foot, or via tram, bus, street car, cable car, horse, one-speed bicycle, or steamboat.

3. After stabling or hitching your horse (or, you know, whatever), make a beeline to the front desk and inquire as to the location of the card catalogs. When you are told those are all on computers look flummoxed and dazed, and just a touch hurt.

4. You are not there for light reading or "fun." You should be there researching something like water management in the Ottoman Empire. This should be your hobby and your only ambition for said hobby is to understand it better and better because it interests you.

5. If someone works in the library they are a librarian. Period. If they are cleaning the floor they are a librarian cleaning the floor. Treat all librarians with quiet, deep respect.

6. Come to the library on a strict, regular schedule, for instance; two nights a week and every other Saturday for 35 years until you retire, at which point you will add in every Tuesday and Thursday.

7. Wear a suit, dress, or otherwise appropriate attire to be classified as, allowing for style changes, dressed respectably in 1950.

8. Librarians are there to help you obtain access to your research materials. They are not there to teach you or provide actual information outside of that fundamental purpose.

9. You would as soon arrive in the library without your library card as you would arrive wearing dungarees!

10. You would as soon eat or drink in the library as you would yodel there. 

11. Always use one large, public table to work on, but, as befits a public institution, harbor no expectation that it always be the same one.

12. Always leave precisely one half hour before close.

13. Check out two large, bland looking hard covered volumes because they have information you just want to poke at a bit between visits.

14. Whenever you come home from the library bring flowers, and, on Thursday, Chinese food.

That is all that is required. Well done!


  1. Hurray, I aced the Old School Library exam! Even about wearing appropriate 1950's era attire. My momma would slap me if I crossed over Canal street without my hat and gloves.
    No yodeling, bring home flowers and large research books, yup, yes, and oui.
    Using the large tables can be tricky because of the homeless people. Do I loose points for this?

    1. You wouldn't have lost points, but then you used the term "homeless people" The term is "Hoboes".

  2. "dungarees": ha ha!

    1. Look, I'm responding! Sorry it took a year, but it's going to be really good and I think you'll think it was worth it to wait. Ready?

      I know! Ha!


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