Monday, November 4, 2013

The Adventures of Esmerelda - Part 2

If you missed the first installment of the Adventures of Esmerelda, you can find it on yesterday's post.

Chapter 2 - Ranganathan’s Mitts
Being the continuing adventures of Esmerelda Teacup, ace librarian.

The vicissitudes of contemporary librarianship * The letters of the law * A welcome gift * Dark clouds gather

Esmerelda's beloved is a bibliophile who listens to the reports of Esme’s day with patience and sympathy, even when she waxes somewhat...well, assuredly not strident but, shall we say, vigorous, about the insanity of ordering 173 copies of the latest Daphne Farquitt or Lavinia Fitch, the abysmal quality of modern bookbinding, or the extortionate policies of medical journals.  However, since the recent unrest over the weaponized koalas, B does all that can be done to steer toward safer topics when conversation veers toward the “upcycling” of old books.  (Now, Esmerelda is a fair-minded woman, so before tilting against the practice of butchering  things of words to make things of kitsch, she tried a thought experiment:  Would it be acceptable to make a tchotchke out of a fake book?  Well, perhaps.  But once you have made a fake book, is it not, ipso facto, a real book?  Attempting to follow that strand snarled her thoughts so badly that she had to have a nice quiet sitdown with a glass of wine and her current knitting project – a Gotham City Twinset - before regaining her usual savoir-faire.  She concluded this was a situation where one must allow ideology to be a sufficient guide.)

There is little her beloved  can do about these problems.  But when the winter rains set in and Esme returns home day after day with hands chill and stiff from working in her poorly heated office, B lights on a way to help (that is, in addition to the generous and, um, altruistic offers to massage her hands).  Drawing inspiration from a cross-stitch sampler of Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science (rather a large sampler) that hangs with pride of place in the dining room, B secretly charts and knits and rips and knits and charts, and finally presents these mitts to Esme, who is as demonstratively delighted as her beloved could have hoped.  Whether she is typing or shelving books, Esme’s hands now stay comfortably warm, though she always graciously accepts B’s offers to warm them further.

However, trouble looms on the horizon.  Esme’s beloved is not exactly careless with books, but his laissez faire attitude toward their organization and storage ruffles Esme’s hair painfully in the wrong direction.  

Will domestic harmony survive the brewing storm?  Can theoretical and corporeal cataloging coexist in peace?  Tune in to our next episode for the answers to these and other burning questions.


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