A Successful Quest

9 Jan

It is all very well being told that you simply must have a certain edition of a text, but when that certain edition is not in the library, it all becomes rather annoying.  Especially when you are too disorganised to have arranged an inter-library loan weeks in advance.  My crestfallen expression as the nice librarian informed me that I was welcome to fill out the form but the book ‘definitely’ wouldn’t be available for collection until after the Christmas holiday was wholly un-festive, I’m sure.

I thought I was on to a good thing when I tracked the book down in Durham Library, located at an only mildly inconvenient distance from Newcastle.  I managed to wrangle a lift to Durham from a friend who travels there to do a doctorate (having deemed another four years in a small city too stiflingly dull), and thought my problems were solved as I navigated my way around the library basement to the 821.3 WOR section.

Forty minutes later, I was swearing under my breath (occasionally not under my breath) as I looked over the shelves for the UMPTEENTH time, as this book was nowhere to be found, despite being ‘on the shelf’ according to the online catalogue (I definitely came out with an ‘Is it fuck!’ during my repeated checking of this fact).  I trawled every single book written in the world between about 1700 – 1900, before going over to the ‘waiting to be shelved’ books, which, by the great extent of them, had been waiting to be shelved for a while.  There were hundreds, and in no discernible order.  It was at about this point that I began a particularly jaded internal narrative, running over everything bad/unlucky that has ever befallen me, and asking why this would happen to someone who just wanted to write their essay and not get told off for having the wrong book.  I massively lose perspective when I am feeling persecuted, apparently.  It was also at about this point that I gained a great appreciation for Newcastle University Library, which, even at busy times, never has more than 40 books waiting to be put on their correct shelves, and even then, they can usually be found in their correct order.

I left an hour later, empty handed, hungry and anticipating the feedback on my essay: ‘This could have been improved by using the 1997 edition…’ (Steph, I would have given this comment a Dobby face and a massive ‘I know right.’)

Later that evening, whilst taking a sick pleasure in telling Mike all about my failure and how hard done by I was, he made the now STRIKINGLY OBVIOUS remark of ‘Have you looked on Amazon?’  I had not.  I had assumed that this seemingly quite rare, massive hardback book that even my academic institution did not own would cost a fortune, that I was not willing or able to spend.

Throughout my secondary school education, there was a poster on the wall of one of the classrooms that the teacher used to particularly enjoy quoting from: ‘When you assume you make an ass out of u and me.’

I bought the book for 78p, plus postage.  And I felt very silly indeed.

(NB. Still not finished it, but have looked at all the nice pictures and discussed a summer jaunt to the haunts of my highland ancestors with Mike, so not all bad.)

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