Monday, May 7, 2012

library time (a rant)

Today found me working in Rutgers's Alexander Library.  I was reading an apparently very rare book about the history and workings of the Dream Machine - an electronic strobe that functioned as a gallery piece and talking point in the 1960s, flickering at one so fast that one started (whether one's eyes were closed or open) to see hallucinatory patterns and visions.  Ingesting a few other chemicals didn't hurt the process, either - it was an arty, would-be sophisticated version of the disco strobe.  I say "rare" - WorldCat fails to locate one, oddly, in Los Angeles.

And of course, no longer a faculty member, I couldn't borrow it and cart it off to a quiet lair.  No, here I was, in exam week, in the company of what seemed to be one big jokey revision party.  And these guys were not just Loud, but were eating very smelly burgers.  With fries.  At the next table, a girl was eating from a huge styrofoam box of mac 'n cheese.  I was rendered speechless by the noise and food - and I'm some who prides myself on being able to work anywhere.  There didn't seem much point in complaining, like an angry old bat, to the hapless looking student worker at the front desk.

But I don't know how justified I am to wail.  No, this isn't how a library should be.  But then, when I was back in the elevator taking the book back to its shelf (I probably shouldn't have been doing that, but I wanted to be sure of finding it tomorrow) I found that floors 2A and 2B are designated "quiet floors."  I'd been working on Floor 1.  The thought of needing to designate certain library floors as "quiet floors" evidently shows me that I'm way out of touch ...

Rant, rant.

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