Monday, July 24, 2006


does anyone remember research papers before the internet? card catalogues, the black computer screen in the library with the green type and blinking cursor? looking through indexes and photocopying pages? notes? outlines? writing drafts and bibliographies sans websites? my high school career was based around this. walking to the sharon public library, looking up books to use in my papers. i was an index searching fool - fastest eyes in the east. it was tedious but necessary. none of this pansy google business the kids do now. and no one pushed me harder in the research paper department than ms. pascetta.

we hated her, we loved her. she pushed us to our limits and we showed her it was worth it. her first year out of grad school and we were her guinea pigs. her love of the classics, her intelligence, patience and dominance over us was astounding. we all looked up to her, even if she was 4 feet tall.

the lacus curtis. senior year, that was my topic. sharon public library had nary a book on the subject, it was so obscure. when i went to find it in the forum in rome, it didn’t even have a plaque. but couldn’t let ms. pascetta down; the 5 pages had to come from somewhere. so i branched out. almost twice a week, my father drove me into copley while i frantically figured out how to use the immense card catalogue, the computer systems, navigate the shelves and the staff. it made me feel so small and grown up at the same time. i sat in those stacks and took notes, we scrounged quarters for the photocopying machine. i got lost. often.

my papers got a's (i didn’t settle for less back then) and were filed away in boxes in the attic, but the library books stayed with me. we had no reason to go back, so that last batch got shelved away and forgotten. i remember taking a handful back freshmen year of college and dropping them in the slot when we went out for lunch one weekend. one book, however, remained.

burial rites in ancient rome - yellow with black type. it sat in the family room the summer after my senior year; it sat there all through college. occasionally, i would go to get a cook book off that shelf and glance at it, silently reminding myself that i need to return that. i went to copley countless times and pictured that yellow book every time i passed the library. after a while, I just laughed. how many years now? 3? 4? i left it when i left for new york city. i left it when i packed up all my books and moved to watertown. i don't think anyone had even touched it since 1999.

then i needed to get my hands on rabbit run by john updike. barnes and noble in downtown crossing didn’t have it. i didn’t have time to order it online, to go seek it out at a mall. wait! the library is 2 blocks away! they will have it! easy peasy.

so i called. "do i have a membership there, or is it under my mother's name?" "you do have one, yes" "and are there any outstanding charges?" "yes, one that is several years old." "i see. thank you."

so off to sharon to pick up the book (right where i left it), then off to the library to drop it off, and $5 later, i can take out my book club book with a clear conscience.

it only took 7 years.


Blogger Leslie said...

I'm glad I was there to see the Book Fairy lift the weight right off your shoulders as you returned you severely overdue book. I'm also glad I was there to see the guy behind the desk laugh at you as he realized it was a book from 1999 hahahaha

10:29 PM  

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