Braving the Library

November 6, 2008
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The smell of freshly sharpened pencils and freshman fear is in the air as I walk down the hallway on the first day of sophomore year. Being naive, I assume that sophomores had it easier than freshman; no longer am I at the very bottom of the totem pole. I cruise through 3 periods, chatting with old friends and briefly surveying each teacher. I'll ace those classes as long as I show up on time and don't swear at the teacher. I'm satisfied with classes, until 4th period comes around. Meet the bane of my existence. Ms Belchwaker, 60-something years old and clinically insane. As soon as everyone sits down, she snaps down the window shades and shuts off the lights. Then she walks around the classroom in the complete darkness, lecturing us about hard work and punishments. Although the class lasts a lifetime, at the end she stops us as we walk out the door. "One more thing. On Tuesday, I expect a full 2 pages on a book to be read and researched before then. Class dismissed!"
Turns out that our book report had to be on a nonfiction book. The fact that I never read means that this doesn’t really matter. Actually, it’ll probably be easier to read a nonfiction book. I mean, there aren’t any complicated emotions or anything. ‘Cuz it has to be just facts.

So I went to my local library (I figured that this was a pretty drastic first step,) and started looking for a book. I guess because I’ve never really been to a library before, I didn’t really understand how hard it is to find a book. The first thing I did when I walked in was to go straight over to the nearest bookshelf and crack open a book - literally. It didn’t snap in half or anything, but there was this cracking noise. A nearby librarian gave me a foul look. He walked over to me – it was like a march of impending doom - and looked me in the eye.

I don’t exactly remember what happened next, but it involved a lot of talking of his part, a lot of listening on mine, and I came away from it with a strong feeling of “guilty.”

After looking down at the page and not understanding a word it had on it, I put it back and started walking around. The bookshelves all had letters on them. Was it some kind of secret code? Completely lost, I walked around. Eventually I spotted the computers.

Ah, I thought. Computers. I know how to work those. Ha! Yeah right, On the screen is some page that tells you how to find your book. Boring crap, obviously, so I scroll down to the bottom of the page until I find a search box. Hesitating for a moment, I type in “nonfiction” and press enter. The computer gives me a long, long list of books. And guess what? The secret code is back, but this time it has numbers, too. Don’t librarians want us to check out books?

After wandering around for about half an hour, a librarian comes up to me. I don’t think it’s the one who gave me the speech on cracking the bindings of books, but after wandering around in this maze, they all begin to look the same.

“May I help you?” It’s a guy, kind of tall and lean. He has one of those crooked noses, and his hair is pretty wild.

“Um, yeah. I’m, looking for a non fiction book.”

He looks at me for a second. “In the fiction section?” His voice could put to sleep the rowdiest of clubbers. I would definitely remember that voice. He isn’t the one who lectured me.

Completely confused here. “What?”

This guy puts a hand on my shoulder, as if this is some initiation. “I’ll help you.”

And so he shows me around the library and tells s me about the alphabetic shelving system. (Why didn’t I get that before,) and the Dewey Decimal system. I don’t know if this Dewey guy was really smart or really dumb, because even with the help of the librarian it took me fifteen minutes to work it out.

Even still, I have to choose a topic. What do I want to write 3-5 pages about? By this time the librarian has left me, although I’m sure he has accomplices who are just waiting around the corners to “help” me find a book. I’m not that much better off than I started!

Turns out the search engine on the computer has a list of topics. I scroll down it looking for anything that would suit me. Passing a lot of unpronounceable ones, I finally reach something which I think I can do. Comics.

I click on it, and to my surprise I find that there’s a comic book about comics. I call to the nearest librarian, “Hey! Does a comic book count as a book?”

She walks over and smiles. Her face crinkles up and her terribly applied eye liner starts to drip down her face. She must be at least 85. “Why yes, that one does.”

At this point I begin to wonder if this is really an insane asylum. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been here before. I find my book and check it out. It’s called, Behind the Scene Comics. Step one, check out a book, accomplished.





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