Very often, I am on campus during the weekend, when most students have scattered to the four winds, free of classes for two days and determined to enjoy the New England fall before winter sets in. There is no time to feel lonely or alone when facing a project like this one, and there is something nice about being able to bear down and focus on the task at hand. Still and all, a librarian exists in part to serve his or her community, and I have been a bit of a ghost in mine.
Today was the Fall Open house, and a rare Monday off from the work-a-day world for me, so I sojourned to campus to see what could be done. The answer, as it turns out, was not as much as anticipated. What I enjoyed most as a student has come back to haunt me: the rooms of the library are constantly occupied. It is difficult to shelve books when you’re interrupting Metaphysics.
To that end, I assisted with the open house, saying hello to visitors and students and, in the process, becoming a visible presence on campus. The odd juxtaposition is that I am known among the faculty and ‘older’ alumni, but am offered help as though a stranger by the current students, and how are they to know different? The onus is on me. There will always be a part of me that would like to take up residence among the old and rare books, but such a life is impractical, even in the green world. In venturing out, I found that my addition is a welcome one. After all, the students are aware of the challenges of the library, and there is an appreciation for a return to order. My only hope is that I not set the bar too high.
My greatest discovery was the number of people who mentioned a desire to see the older books restored and gain guidance on restoring their older books. An idea that has bounced through my head for months is the idea of something like a guild, but for the library– a group of students trained in basic preservation and restoration (and perhaps a visit or two from NEDCC?) It would require fundraising, but I do love the idea of being able to pass on preservation skills along with research skills. After all, we are a school of book lovers, and it would be wonderful to be able to care for those books well. Additionally, a number of the rare books are 1st editions of authors of interest and we want to care for those treasures we possess, though they may not be costly at this time. What sort of rare books do we possess? Watch this space over the coming months as profile the collection and detail the building of the special collections.