"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


adventures in the library

So. D.C. It's about 40 degrees cooler here than it is in Austin, which is unfortunate, because I packed spring clothes. It's always nicer here in May, but it's usually warmer than 55. Oops. But DC never really changes, and it's the usual mix of confused interns, sleazy lobbyists, and tourists standing on the left side of the Metro escalators.

The Library of Congress is the same as it always is: big, full of loud tourists, and generally inefficient. The good news is that they have one of the ultra-obscure histories I need to read that UT ILS couldn't find. The bad news is that that ultra-obscure history, along with more than half of the other books I need to read this week are on a deck that closed last Friday for construction. For the next two weeks, which is longer than I can stay. The reference librarians have been very nice about it and are trying to get them for me, but the odds aren't great. Sigh.

At least I can now prove to UT that this book exists.

But me and the central African librarian are now BFF's, which is great. She's given me some good places to keep searching for these materials and some ideas about other places that might be able to help. And...she LET ME INTO THE STACKS, which is about the coolest thing ever - you don't EVER get into the stacks at the Library of Congress. But she thought we could maybe find something I needed by searching through the uncataloged boxes of pamphlets, so into the stacks we went.

It was so cool.

You have to understand how much I love books. And libraries. I've loved books my whole life. When I was little, I believed that my mother's sitting down was an indication that she wanted to read to me. I checked out the maximum number of books (10) allowed just about every week of my childhood. When I was eleven and we visited DC on vacation, I wanted to visit the Library of Congress more than anything else. I was sadder than sad to learn that you couldn't get into the stacks or check out books from the Library of Congress. I ate up the episode of Reading Rainbow where they went to the library and showed how books make their way through the stacks and up the conveyer belt to the reading rooms. The day I got my researcher card for the Library of Congress was a happy, happy day. You should see my smile on the picture.

Anyway, back to the stacks. Apparently the LOC has its own collection of African dictator fabrics (just like me!) AND fabrics from George W. Bush's recent visit to Tanzania that feature his face. I asked where they get this stuff, and the librarian said, "Well, when you get ready to throw things away..." I told her I had stuff from the 2006 Congolese elections that I wouldn't want to keep forever, and she told me where to send it.

Something of mine is going to be in the Library of Congress.

This is the giddiest I've been while sitting on capitol hill since meeting Bono.

I am such a nerd.


Blogger mindlab prime said...

Geek, not nerd.

There is a difference, and it matters.



Thursday, May 22, 2008 2:50:00 PM


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