In two weeks, the school year will begin. For the second year, I am amazed by how quickly the summer, which always appears to stretch out endlessly when classes end in May, slips by. There’s no question that this was a very good summer in a number of ways. I criticize myself for taking vacation time both abroad and visiting family in New England, but, upon thinking more about it, I realize that has likely contributed to my being able to keep up a fairly solid pace on my comprehensive exam reading. If I had been here the whole time, I’m not sure I would have been as motivated to get things done. I may have to consider planning shortened versions of these “breaks” in the fall, schedule allowing, of course.
Everyone who has had to read very specific books in some kind of a recommended order for a deadline likely knows what it’s like to realize that someone has something out of the library you need, and that someone, regardless of a good deal of library prodding, refuses to bring the book back. That phenomenon dawned on me this past week, looking at my “requested” items list on my University library account, realizing that at least three books I requested back in March had not yet been returned. Rather than deal with a more widespread version of this after the semester starts up again, I decided to take the plunge and go to the library to pick up all of the remaining books on all of my comprehensive exam lists that I didn’t have and had not yet read.
Of course, I needed help with this one–we were clearly talking about maybe 150 books here. So, I asked Stephen to help me.
We went to the library last week. I came prepared with three bibliographical lists of books with their call numbers listed in order, so I could literally walk, shelf by shelf, and pick them up. Regardless, this was still a time consuming prospect, and I think in sum it likely took as much as 2 hours to find each book, pick it up, and stack it with the others in some kind of a recognizably ordered way.
Fortunately, Stephen brought the biggest suitcase we own on wheels, filled it once, brought it to the car, emptied it, and returned for a second run. All in all, we did get everything that was on the shelves successfully, and I requested the rest of the books that I couldn’t find. Each time we approached the library front desk, the poor students minding it winced, just a little bit.
I feel better now having all of this, knowing that only a minimal number of books remain out of my reach, and hopefully not for long at that. We’ll see.