We went out last weekend to celebrate the 25th anniversary of my good friend Kevin’s involvement in Rocky Horror. Before the show we went to the bar next to the theater to grab some drinks.
This was one of the first times in ages that his wife came out to the show. She was, at some point in the past, on the cast of the show but as time passed and careers grew she stepped away from the show. She’s a librarian — but a frickin’ cool one. A librarian in a rock band.
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When I was in high school I was a page at a library, the one in Cleveland Heights on Noble Road. What does a page do? Shelve books. Books that are taken off the shelves. Books that are returned. New books. Magazines. Newspapers. Everything has a place. Every book has a number. The books were all taken to a cramped room in the back of the library and it was our job to get that back out to the public. They found their way back to the work table and the shelves of that little room. A few two-sided metal library carts lived back there too. That’s was your personal staging area.
I was a ninja at shelving. While goofing off I was going twice as fast as anyone else. (Maybe I was goofing off half as little? I don’t believe so though) I applied the computer science algorithms I knew to sort books on the cart. Quicksort was my friend.
At the time the branch was still using Dewey. I’m going to guess it has since moved to the Library of Congress numbering, but that’s not really relevant to the story.
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Goofing off? A.k.a.: reading. I read a lot. A snippet here, a snippet there. A snippet sorting. A snippet shelving. A snippet downstairs in the magazine repository. I was surrounded by words. I was surrounded by knowledge. If there’s anything I love it is knowledge and ideas.
Even then I was drawn to 649.65 in the bottom middle of the far wall of the non-fiction room.
You can say it was because I was a teenage boy I was drawn to the human sexuality section, but these were words. I could’ve (did?) looked at the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in the basement if that’s all that I wanted.
For as shy and introverted as I am I am drawn to know how people work. I’m drawn to the aspects of sexuality that aren’t on the beaten path. If everyone just had sex to make babies we’d all be republicans for crying out loud. No. That’s not me.
This was the first time I aw there were others like me. If nothing else the authors.
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Later on the internets and their tubes connected everything to everyone. The tubes are a fire-hose of information. Information isn’t knowledge though.
A look around my house and see hundreds of books.
Upstairs I have my own 649.65. And 155.3. And 305.3 and 306.7.
All sorted and placed just so. The programming books and travel books and books of all other types outnumber them by quite a bit.
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The moment I was talking to my librarian friend I thought of Dewey. The moment I though I that I reminisced about my time in the stacks. What I learned. What I learned about myself.