The Loon will make a confession that a Good Librarian should not make: unlike Barbara Fister, she hates academic-library stacks, and always has. (It’s all right. The Loon has never been and will never be a Good Librarian.)
The stacks do not awe her. Those yawning caverns annoy, frustrate, and occasionally scare her. (They also make her tear up and occasionally sneeze, which is the reason she’s never applied to Rare Book School, much though she’d like to go.) The annoyance of staring at a table of irregularly-assigned LCC prefixes (Cutters? What the hell is a Cutter, anyway?—yes, the Loon does know, but she didn’t for most of her librarygoing life) to work out which of three possible floors holds the exact call number she needs. Endless elevator trips, even more endless stairs. (How do folk in wheelchairs or using walkers or canes ever manage?) Either too dim or vastly too bright flickery-ugly fluorescent lighting that always seems to flake out exactly on the row she needs. Prisonlike gunmetal grey or institutional beige shelving. Silence—not friendly productive silence, but dead cold fearsome silence broken only by the buzz of a malfunctioning fluorescent, silence that suggests a rapist or murderer behind every massive structural pillar. Slow, irksomely grindy compact shelving, and the (irrational, one hopes) fear she’ll break the raised floor every time she steps on it.
And let’s face it: five out of six trips into the stacks, even for the librarian-trained Loon, land at either no book at all (the Loon seems to gravitate toward lost books) or a book that doesn’t help. Browsing near a book-that-didn’t-help rarely helps either. Neither the card catalog nor the OPAC is nearly good enough at helping her eliminate possibilities.
Give the Loon a website, or a full-text search engine. Please. Any day. Spare her the horrible, horrible stacks!
On hating the stacks by Library Loon, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.