Monday, January 11, 2016

Library Science

work / study site (Princeton campus left, Route 1 center, A = where I worked

Sometimes I forget how, over the years, my interest in Library Science has materialized.  I'm remembering sitting in Firestone getting trained in rules for alphabetizing the card catalog.  Reading in Knuth's TAOCP volume 3 brought that back to me; he shows some of the rules applied, for keeping publication titles in sequential order.  Not as easy as it sounds.  Finding books in a library is a skill, not deprecated, even with URIs in the picture.

At Georgetown Library, I filed Arabic language titles back to their shelves, alphabetically.  Yes, I had studied Arabic, but had not learned much more than the alphabet, enough to interpolate book titles.  I've since tried to master Hiragana and Katakana alphabets, associating them with phonemes.  My smartphone helps me.  I'm not that great a student.  Learning languages easily is not one of my gifts.  I've often wondered about what kinds of immersive videos and hands on games might accelerate the progress of an average joe like me.

Wandering through open stacks gives me a charge in some way.  A commercial bookstore like Powell's on W Burnside will do the same.  I'm not talking about mystical healing powers so much as the excitement of cortical matter, or perhaps some glandular elixir is released -- it all depends what section of the bookstore one is perusing at the time, as to the explanation for its galvanizing powers.  I've been an habitual browser of bookshelves and count myself lucky, and in good company, for that reason.  Hypertext aided my browsing with dream-come-true tools (research tools, art supplies, raw "metaphysical materials" -- cyber-stuff -- of many flavors).

So that's at least two jobs in the library.  My time in Firestone might have coincided with my 1985 return to Princeton where I ended up working in a small business back office doing clerical tasks.  H.P. Clayton's on Princeton Square.  Or was that a summer job.  I also worked as a janitor at Forrestal Campus, cleaning up around the Tokamak makers (a fusion reactor prototype; I never saw it assembled just watched workers make parts for it).  Forrestal is close to the main Princeton campus, by car at least, along Route One.  I should Google Earth it.