A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING: OR, “Why is ‘God’s Middle Finger’ in Religion?”

We closed the Reference Room because of a project that should’ve been done decades ago. It has to do with sets. I like to keep sets together. It’s stupid, it’s anal -retentive, and it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans because, as any Librarian knows, patrons don’t use sets anyway. But we have over 20 sets in this Reference Room of ours and, for no good reason, we’ve kept them separate from the other material:

  • The International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences
  • Gale Directory of Medicine
  • Gale Directory of Science
  • Encyclopedia of Physics
  • Encyclopedic Dictionary of American History
  • American Heritage Encyclopedia of Art and Artists
  • Encyclopedia of World Finance
  • History of Greek Philosophers
  • Encyclopedia of Africa
  • Encyclopedia of World Biography
  • Countries of the World
  • English Matters!
  • United States Government/Constitution Series
  • Durant’s History of Civilization
  • Enciclopedia Cumbre
  • Gran Enciclopedia Planeta
  • Ethics and Values
  • Columbia Encyclopedia of World History
  • Encyclopedia of World Events
  • Peoples of the World
  • Encyclopedia of Popular Music

Today, I announced to the cataloger and classifier “Today, gentlemen, we will re-work that room to include sets in their proper places.” Here are just some of the comments I heard:

  • “Thank God! You must’ve grown a brain overnight, huh?”
  • “It’s about time! Now I don’t have to go nuts when we do Inventory!”
  • “Think we’ll actually be able to FIND something now?”

For me, the most amusing thing that happened during the re-organization is that, as shelf space was created for a particular set, the clerks often couldn’t bear to split the books between shelves. They were bending over backward trying to keep the volumes together! I fanned the flames a bit:

“See! You’re as bad as EYE am! Not so easy, is it?”

“But they just don’t look right when the set’s busted up like that!” Which elicited this comment from the cataloging room:

“F*ck what they look like! Put’em where they belong!”

We started around 1:10PM. At 3PM, we unveiled our new Reference Room arrangement to an unsuspecting public. The most common overheard comment was:

“Now I can’t find anything!”

Conventional wisdom says you can’t please everyone. But folks who deal with people are a tad more realistic and see the thing in this light: You can’t please anyone.

But in this case, it’s not true. The cataloger and classifier are both well-pleased. And even my anal-retentive nature is sated. Now if I can just figure out how to make room for those last two volumes on the same shelf, I can keep this set together.

Well, I’ll just have to discard something….
reference sets