Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Professional shelver


I had scheduled an hour of Non Fiction shelving in the late afternoon. There were two carts people had put in order and I grabbed one to take it upstairs. This was a mere 15 minutes into my shelving hour which I'm pretty sure was the fastest anyone had managed to get to shelving at my library all day.

I was making good time on my shelving when I came upon five volumes of The Diaries of Virginia Woolf. This was excellent news. Five volumes of anything is a super easy shelve! These were, in order:

Volume One

Volume Two

Volume Three

Volume Five, and

Volume Four.

Do you see the problem? If you're not a professional shelver you probably didn't spot it. It's very subtle.

Still no?

Volume Four should come before Volume Five. This is because Four is a lower number than Five.

If you're not a professional shelver this probably doesn't mean much to you. But for me, a professional shelver, one who reveres and lives by the craft, well, it was too much, all too much.

So I headed downstairs and curled up in a leather armchair by a large window looking out on the heavy rain. I brought with me a huge glass of sherry, and I opened a thick book of Wodehouse short stories. I settled in for four recuperative hours and slowly pet the cat.

If you must speak to me yet today, speak softly.


  1. I live at a place that has a community library and I am the assistant librarian. I always think of you when I shelve all the James Patterson, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, and Deborah Macomber books. I remember you lamenting that people didn't read something different once in a while, and now I am also having the same thoughts.

    But then I have only read the Jeeves and Bertie books. What else of Wodehouse should I read?

    1. I'm very fond of his golf stories, maybe also known as "Oldest Member" stories. I'm pretty sure you don't have to care about golf to like them.


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