Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Where are the lights

It's 9:45 on a typical Wednesday morning. This means that everyone is working at their desks, trying not the think about the fact that the week is not quite half-over. We're not on the downhill slide yet, and none of us are happy about it.

This time of day is also when we get the Newsies. These are the Professors, Instructors, and non-student military people that stop by the library once or twice a week to read the papers. We just started receiving the USA Today and The Wall Street Journal again (our courier had quit, and it took weeks to find another one - hey, I'm in Alabama), so that means that we have more people coming in the mornings than we were last month. And since the papers are in the section in front of my desk, I get to look at them all read the paper, and wish I could just sit around and read last week's edition of The Sunday Times and Le Monde. Not that I would understand what they were saying in the first, or even be able to read the words in the second - but being able to just sit around and read the paper in the middle of a weekday morning is going to be a small part of whatever heaven I eventually make it to.

Anyway, the newsies have set up camp in front of me. There are a few hardcore researchers on the computer (which are also in front of me). The librarians are desperately wishing it were Friday, or that someone would at least call a meeting about something so that it would break up the monotony of it all. And then, the lights started to go off, one by one. It started in the back, where the stacks are, and worked it's way towards the front of the library, then around the corner to the reference and circulation desks. In a matter of minutes the whole library was black. I desperately hoped that I  had gotten pulled into a time warp, and that the clock had magically jumped to 5 so that I could leave...but then I remember the lights don't get turned off til 10 PM during the week - and I didn't want to fast-forward that far.

The Researchers are frantically pulling out thumb drives, floppy disks, whatever they can save their work to. They are all on the trail of the PERFECT citation for their book/paper/masterpiece-of-research, and cannot afford to loose what ground they've gained. The Newsies are supremely annoyed. They enjoy watching others research and revel in the fact that they aren't doing grunt work at the moment. The blackout means that not only can they not watch the Researchers writhe in Research Hell, it also means they can't read the Washington Post that's three days out of date (they could get the current stuff online - we get it through a database - but that makes them look like a Researcher, not a Newsie).

I'm at my desk, trying to figure out why in the world they would fix a broken light switch - the masterswitch that shuts off all the lights in the stacks and research areas - at one of our busiest hours of the day. 3 PM is just as busy, but that's when the students have descended on us, and they don't complain nearly as much about being inconvenienced.  I saw the Newsies frowns and the Researchers Panic...and then they all started to look around for someone who works here. So what did I do?

I went up front. "Fled" is probably too strong a word, but I did walk quickly; I also tried to look very important on the way. :) I ended up going right back to the computers to calm the Researchers - after all, I remember that hopeless feeling of a power outage when you're 3/4 of the way through a paper and you realize that you have no idea if you've hit save in the past ten minutes, or if there's an auto-save because you aren't on your own computer.
The Newsies...I let them fend for themselves. They seemed to have found a new camaraderie in the dark, and I wasn't about to disturb that.

1 comment:

Karen said...

LOL! What a great picture you painted there.

I'd rather be a newsie than a researcher. But I'll be the only newsie looking like a researcher I guess - no way I can stick with 3 day old news.

Security word - litkle. That's a little tickle? Or a lit lek?