Saturday, October 10, 2009

Browsing the Shelves For Dummies*

"Randal, I'm the biggest idiot ever."

"Don't worry, Dante, even you can learn how to find a book."

Hello children, it's your friendly neighborhood librarian, Randal, and I have gathered you all here for a very special reason. I am going to sacrifice you to Nyarlathotep you little fucks show you that finding a book on the shelves all by your lonesome *pats head* isn't at all scary like being locked up in the moldy, rat-infested basement of a serial killer with nothing to subsist on but the chill, bitter sweat trickling off your brow, a stray, dirt-encrusted annelid and the horrifying knowledge that your rusty, agonizing end is nigh and there's not a goddamn thing you can do about it save uselessly praying for salvation to an indifferent universe but is actually as harmless as riding a bike so let's nip this scanning electron microscopic problem in the bud before we must resort to torches and pitchforks and iron maidens and I know none of us wants that.

Believe me, I hear your collective trepidation in those weary sighs, as I heard them every day this week, over and over and like over like ad nauseum like oh my god how like difficult and like permanently like scarring it like totally is especially that one time when you were ogling some hottie and got caught in the automatic door and shattered your pelvis and your spirit, but once you do learn the ins and outs of old-fashioned, time-tested research methodology, you never ever forget because you've since developed various psychoses that never ever let you even when you're grocery shopping and you drop kick that old lady because she took the last bag of sour cream and onion chips, the cantankerous old geezer, it was the voices in my head, don't blame me, officer.

1. Find your subject. Stand in front of the computing box and type, type, type. Don't forget proper spelling moran and try and minimize your acronyms. It's quite possible that you will see a prodigious list on the screen. Don't be alarmed now, for it's not a spring clean of your faults, young scholar. Roll over, how about some of what you hep cats dig the most, Beethoven.

2. Locate the call number. At this book depository, we use the Library of Congress system instead of Dewey Decimal for two primary reasons: first, we are great patriots and, second, Dewey, aside from having been a secret communist sympathizer and possibly a Muslim pedophile, got crushed by Truman, the only man in history with the sack to use nukes. Aha, The Beethoven Compendium: a guide to Beethoven's life and music. Don't forget to write down that call number! Or type it into your personal electro-device in between OMFG LOL sexting. Just don't send it to your ex or you'll end up in front of a judge or a .45. The naked pictures, not the call number.

ML410.B4 B26 1992

3. Decipher the call number. This part is extremely tricky, so patience and gird those loins, true believers.

As you can see, the beginning of the call number is in two parts. ML stands for Middle Level which is library jargon for Middle Kingdom, Midgard, Middle Earth, middle of the road, i.e., humanity's exact locale along the cosmic axis, so you know this particular book will be shelved somewhere here on planet earth. Praise the gods!

The 410 is a mnemonic representing the Sack of Rome by the Visigoths way back in the fifth century. Your next step is to find a goth, preferably one who is visible, take him or her in your time machine and venture back to 410 CE --

"Hi-ho, the derry-o, a time traveling we will go!"

and this part I cannot stress enough, after you've made a transatlantic flight, otherwise good luck finding your way across the ocean, but sure, ask those nice Iroquois if you can borrow a boat -- weave your way through wave after wave of bloodthirsty barbarians and senators peeing their togas each of whom are speaking in a tongue completely foreign to you unless you've taken Latin then good job Kreskin to find the key used to unlock the city's gates B4 heading north to Ravenna to find the emperor himself, who will exchange the key for *gasp* The Fabled Lost Treasure of Archimedes!

What arcane wizardry, what Luciferian legerdemain, what Saturnine sorcery can you perform with this amazing, astonishing, stupefying device?

Using only the materials at hand in fifth century Europe (timber, stone, iron, copper, mortar, garum, yum), you can construct your very own, completely flight-worthy, World War II-era B26 Marauder! Since you burned all the fuel in your time machine -- don't even waste a second looking for 1.21 gigawatts of electricity -- you'll need this airplane to finish your task. Almost there! Fly as fast as you can, fly, my pretty, fly and soon enough, you'll slingshot around the sun and end up all the way back in 1992, where you'll find, on our shelves, don't mind the grungy decor --

Wasn't that easy? Does anyone have a question? You, and then one more.

"What the hell do you need a goth for?"

You have any gold or precious gems? No? Then you're going to need something to barter your way through the barbarian horde. Plundering Germanic tribes don't take plastic.

"Do you think these rambling 'get off my lawn' posts are entertaining, you bitter old man?

No. Good luck, and happy reading!



sunshine said...

Which university library do you work at again?
I'll have to make a mental note not to send my kids to that one. :P

Or else I'll just tell them to watch out for the grump behind the counter. "Don't piss *it* off kids"

Very, very funny post. I LOL'd all the way through reading it. :D You're in fine form today Randal!!

((BigHugs)) cause you sound like you need a big one..


Übermilf said...

How do I find a library?

Christopher said...

Isn't Barnes and Noble and Borders another name for a library?

Randal Graves said...

sunshine, no, don't send any more people here! How these wankers can Myspace and Facebook and Twitter and surf for porn until the cows come home after a late night of drinking but not navigate a simply library page is beyond me.

übermilf, what's a library?

christopher, at B+N and Borders, they actually pay for the books they'll never return.

Holte Ender said...

As my favorite librarian used to say to me: "Shush"

Liberality said...

I can find the books just fine if they happen to be on an actual shelf. What makes me pull my hair out in frustration is looking for something on a library database. They could make that entire process easier but it's a different procedure for every fucking database the library has rented (they don't ever own it, so like they are hostage to the man, uh huh).

Demeur said...

Damn it Graves! I got lost somewhere in WWII and landed up with a book on how to repair macrame. Now how did that happen?

Remember back when the Google would give you results like B Oven? Just what I needed stoves.

sunshine said...

"don't send any more people here!"

Too late. I just enrolled them.
My sons would NEVER look at porn! Of that I'm sure. tee hee.. ;P

susan said...

I missed a left and slingshotted around Jupiter. Now I'm stuck in 1823 with a kerosene operated computer. Any advice?

Hill said...

You had me at the picture of "Clerks."


Randal Graves said...

holte, shush? I thought librarians pulled the pins out of their hair bun and stabbed you.

liberality, now that I can sympathize with a bit. And some are so fucking picky when it comes to keyword searches.

demeur, WWII? Nazi saboteur!

sunshine, don't worry, I look at enough porn for half the state.

susan, um, be happy you're too early for crinoline dresses and head to Germany to catch the premiere of the Ninth?

hill, fuck you yankee bluejeans!

S.W. Anderson said...

It's hard to comment with my sides aching, but I feel I should try.

You obviously have no desire for the "innocent" young to learn the Library of Congress system. I'm sure it's much more fun to watch them wandering aimlessly, developing a 1,000-yard stare, a precursor to PTSD, trying to locate a book using lists of numbers. Plus, you probably look forward to being able to tell them, when they break down and ask for help, to f-off, that you've got more important business to tend to (tucking cache of daily Lotto scratch cards in pocket).

If you really did want them to learn the system, you would tell them to go away and stay away until they're older. You'd tell them the library and its holdings are verboten to them — reserved exclusively for those 18 and above who've developed, like, the necessary degenerate tendencies. Plus, the ability to parse arcane lists of numbers and names.

Taking that approach, it's just possible that out of sheer perverse determination, a handful would actually figure the system out and use it.

Suzan said...

So you are a librarian.

And exactly the type I was hoping for.

Your favorite lines from Clerks, please.


Tom Harper said...

What, people still use libraries? Huh. I thought everybody just Googled everything nowadays.

Ghost Dansing said...

visible industrial goths.... is that what we were looking for?

Beach Bum said...

I'm still looking for my library's copy of "The Joy of Sex" so I can gawk at all the nekkid, steamy pictures.

What year should I start in?

Distributorcap said...

did i stumble on the dewey decimal blog

Betty C. said...

Bloody brilliant.

Tengrain said...

Graves, you swine!

Here's the part I never get: some shelves (once you locate your topic, and good luck to you!) are sorted alphabetically by title, and some are sorted by author.

Is it caprice, or is there actually some reasoning behind it?

Actually, I almost never care, because I usually forget what I was looking for by that point, and just start pulling books out at random and look at the pretty pictures.



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TomCat said...

Dang that SPAM smells bad!

It sounds like you had a harder time finding the book that the Browns did finding a win.

Utah Savage said...

You got spammed big time.

I still miss the card catalogue. I loved going cards and finding the book info and writing it on a little piece of paper with a little pencil and going to the shelves and finding not only the book I wanted but others as well. Oh how I miss the good old days.

MRMacrum said...

See I knew there was raping and pillaging involved when trying to navigate any of the halls of bureacratic boredom. The important question is though, where does the library keep the porn. Under Dewey or safely locked up in the Library of Congress? I bet it's Congress. Nothing but deviants and boy toy addicts, the lot of them.

S.W. Anderson said...

It would seem the wheelie bus was hijacked to Cuba with Randal on it. Or, more likely, Randal is playing hookie from playing hookie. How slacktastic is that?

Freida Bee, MD said...

This so totally belongs in that Yahoo How To ma bob.

I still have a question, though, Randal. Where is the supply closet and can I live in there?

Tengrain said...

Graves, you swine!

That is some of the most trenchent commentary you have made in years, and your readers think it is spam! Ha! Joke's on them, n'est-ce pas?



thatgirl said...

Is this where I rent a book?

Dr. Zaius said...

I miss the Dewey decimal system. At least then I could get help from Parker Posey in the romance section.

And you can't barter with the barbarian horde. You have to bribe their politicians like you would with any other civilized group.

Randal Graves said...

I can't answer any more questions! Everyone draw their answer out of this hat!