Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Things I Learned from Volunteering at the Seminary Library

Disclaimer: I'm not sure 'volunteering' is a good choice of words, since it implies that I was actually organised, as opposed to just sort of pitching up to see what I could do or if I should sit and read until my mum's classes finished.

  1. Those primary school exercises about arranging decimal fractions in ascending order do, in fact, have a practical application. Even the ones that go to an advanced number of decimal places, because there are a lot of decimal places in the Dewey numbers of some books. (Biblical exegesis from the African feminist perspective is only beginning to get there.)
  2. The Dewey system isn't entirely infallible after all. Are the confessions of St. Augustine theology or autobiography?
  3. The most useful thing I've learned from compulsively ordering increasingly substantial fragments of the family book collection is not how the Dewey Decimal System works. I learned that better from using the library anyway. It's how to transfer half a shelf of books in one motion, without disrupting their order. I should put that on my CV.
  4. Having access to Twitter, IM, email and the web in my pocket did not distract me. Finding Metaphysical Lyrics and Poems of the 17th Century and Humanae Vitae did. Lets not talk about the 268 shelf.
  5. However many shelves you think you will need for Church History, double that. If that seems a lot, bear in mind that New Testament history and Biblical Archaeology fall under 'Bible' not 'Church History'—it could be worse.
  6. Sorting all those books without being able to read them was tough. Librarians must be well practised in self-discipline!

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