Thursday 22 November 2007

Library Life

Time for a bit of a library update, I think, before we plunge back into the world of literature - review coming up tomorrow of one of the latest Persephone books, so keep your eyes open for that. This week I have been shadowing one of the other library trainees, but have yet to leave the Science arena - but rather than the torrent of scientific subjects bundled into the aptly named Radcliffe Science Library, my usual home, these have been rather more specific. Started the week in Zoology and Ornithology (let me tell you, pictures of birds are rather more appealing than Heart Surgery Weekly or Dermatology Update) and now in Plant Science. Ever wondered how much forestation there is in Canada? Me neither, but it's the place to be if you ever do. Having said that, it seems our indifference is shared by the populus of Oxford, as all of these libraries are fairly empty. In fact, I don't think there was a single enquiry in the Plant Science library today - certainly not whilst I was around. Even without the general public milling around, though, I enjoyed today - I was processing books and journals. In the RSL this is all done by the cataloguing staff in a separate section of the library - the benefit of a smaller library is that it's all hands on deck.

So, I'm sticking stickers, measuring spines, attaching plastic covers, gluing in date sheets, ya-dah-ya-dahhhhhhhhwaitaminutewhat?! I have to STAMP the SIDES of the BOOK?? With a rubber stamp? Emblazon 'Oxford University Library Services' on all three sides of a book which aren't the spine? Oh dear. You'll have gathered over the past few days that I'm not a big fan of writing in/on/near/over or under books. In fact the only preposition I'll concede is 'about' - I love writing about books. But stamping dirty great rubber stamps all over them? Houston, we have a problem. And that is the central paradox to librarianship. Despite what we are told, I hope against hope that people becoming librarians love books.
Yes, we have to love aiding research, and the latest technology, and guiding people, and making information accessible - all essential. But surely we should love books too? And there is a certain type of book-lover (not all) who cannot bear to see the poor things covered in possessive ink. So I had to screw up my eyes and stamp the thing within an inch of its life, feeling like a hoodlum... now I can feel the books in my room looking at me reproachfully... there'll be warning posters distributed around my shelves soon.

Anyone concerned for my sanity, email


  1. Mr Grumpy - you'll be ripping pages out next! OVW

  2. Sadly, I suppose that all this stamping on the outside is in case someone manages to nick them -- they'd be pretty visibly not theirs, then.

  3. Liked the cartoon. I'm a sucker for awful puns!

  4. The cartoon made me laugh ... like Alis I love that kind of humour. But I do feel sorry for the books. I mean I wouldn't like to be stamped on all sides. Whatever happened to the discreet old-fashioned stamp on the inside page?


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