Library Orienteering

The library here, which can only be described as a chapel of books, has a few squishy chairs in the center, right inside the entrance. I like to camp out in them when I'm studying, or taking care of email (yay for wireless), or just generally chilling.

I don't get much competition for the chairs; I appear to be the only person here who has grasped the idea that you can put a laptop in your lap. The tables and desks are all at ADA and fire code compliant heights, a good four or five inches above the ergonomically advisable height for an average typist. So, while most of the others in here are at tables further down the room, I'm happily settled in an easy chair right near the center of the reference books.

Okay, so the whole reading room is lined with reference books. But the indices are in the center. Makes sense, really. The indices are way stations on the journey from one serially-numbered volume to another; the place you wind up going every time your citation-check needs to run forward, rather than backward. Thus, people on citation chases tend to follow predictable paths that lead them past my throne -- another reason I choose to sit there. Things are just more sociable, even if everyone passing by has a distracted look about the corner of the eye.

The procedure right now is pretty standard. Professors are assinging the same introduction-to-research assignments to entire classes. The result is that a fair number of people will come through, looking for the same particular data, pulling the same particular books from the shelves, going through the same mental gyrations as they figure out how the numbering schemes and citation indices work. On a given day, a steday trickle of folks will pass my chair, each coming from the same direction and going to the same shelf. When they arrive, they pull down the same book, open to the same page, and give the same grunt of satisfaction as they scribble down some numbers. Then they move off, headed for their next checkpoint.

Orienteering, plain and simple.