Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Fall is in the air...

and people show up with their college syllabuses* and can’t believe we don’t have their textbooks.

I try to explain that we don’t buy textbooks as gently as I can. I try to point out that textbook purchases are, you know, the student's responsibility and that we try to provide the other things for writing their papers and doing their research. (Actually, we don't; we buy movies and CDs, but that's a different post). I try to explain that if we did get into the textbook market, wouldn't it stand to reason that we would have to buy a copy for everybody taking every course? And even if libraries did provide textbooks, wouldn't it also stand to reason that the college that took their tuition money should be the provider, not the cash-starved public library?

When I get to that part, I am reminded of back in the days of yore when I worked at a college library. There was a woman named Susan who had worked there for several decades and who brooked no nonsense from students. One day at the busy beginning of the term, a bored young hipster (Nirvana-era hipster: flannel, knit cap, creative facial hair, toxic level of self-regard) slid a syllabus across the counter to me. "Yeah," he said in response to my query about whether he needed help finding something, "I need these." A finger tapped the list of books on the page. I went through the whole litany. He simply could not accept, though, that he was not going to walk out with a stack of texts. At long last, he put a smirk on his face and asked me if he could talk to somebody "who actually knew something." (Owwie! Put me in my place!)

"Certainly," I said and got Susan. It was almost fun to watch her read him the Riot Act about his responsibilities as a student which involved buying textbooks and not wasting library staff time with foolishness. Anyway, I miss having her around at such times to send people packing!

*I know--first declension masculine:



"Agricola davit syllabum puellae."

The foregoing was from the Misspent Youth Memory Archive. Instead of doing drugs and having sex like a normal teen, I studied Latin. Sheesh.

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