Thursday, October 16, 2008

Today is "Work Like a Nineteenth Century Librarian" Day

I've been listening to A Short History of Nearly Everything in my car and I find it amazing that every task took so long to complete in the early days of science. It was common for one single experiment to take a year or more. I'm guessing scientists spent much of that time dressing and fastening buttons.

But yet the research produced the most amazing discoveries. It must be that slow processes produce deep thoughts.

I guess to be really aligned with the purpose of the book, I should call this Work Like an Eighteenth Century Librarian Day, but that century just seems so messy.

So for "Work Like a Nineteenth Century Librarian" Day, I propose that we take our time and do things slowly and seek timeless or even philosophical results. We should ask "Why?" of our patrons, and "Why?" of the question or of questioning itself. Seek timeless understanding. But mostly, take it slow.

Library patron: "I would like to see everything you have on Fratercula arctica."

Nineteenth Century Librarian: "Please record your request upon this document, and I shall begin the research at the first available opportunity."

Library patron: "May I inquire as to the length of time it may take to fill?"

Nineteenth Century Librarian: "I shall endeavor to satisfy your request within six weeks."

Library patron: "Only six weeks? Miraculous!"