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Pickle Me This

May 7, 2007

Final Shift

Tomorrow morning I will work my final shift at the library— five years after the last time I worked my final shift at the library. I think this time I mean it, however, as I don’t foresee myself returning to school anytime soon (or ever again), and it’s time I moved on from student assistantship. But I am going to miss it so. To be paid to walk up and down shelves and shelves of books. When I worked there as an undergraduate, I found “shelf-reading” quite tedious– reading call number after call number for about a half hour each shift to make sure the books were in their right places. But on my second run, I delighted in it. To run my thumb along the shelf and give a little attention to books no one has touched in years, the obscure volumes and authors Woolf’s essays taught me such an appreciation for, to return wayward books to where they belong, to blow the dust off. I loved shelving, and filling in the gaps. I never came up from the stacks without a stack of my own to take home. I liked working at circulation, where my duty was to be handed books (what a dream!). Checking books out, and imagining the connection between the book and its borrower. I revelled in Special Collections– I got to shelf the Woolf Collection when the library moved in 2001, and that I have touched these rare, beautiful volumes, books that SHE touched, is one of the penultimate features of my life. Today I held in my hands a book that had belonged to Coleridge and Wordsworth, and that was just an ordinary day.

I was not meant to be a librarian for innumerable reasons, but I do harbour dreams that the career ahead of me be bookish, however so, because then no day could ever truly be ordinary. There is no other object I’ve ever known that is invested with the magic of the book.

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