June 06, 2012

Prodigal -- Life among the books (Part 2) / Katrina Murphy

This is the second of two blog postings written by one of our Library Student Assistants, Katrina Murphy. In this second piece Katrina reflects further on the process of looking for a lost/misplaced library book.
            Last week I received a search request (see previous blog entry) and sat reading the report left for me by the agent who had previously been on the case. It was a bad business; the book had not been to the front desk for so much as a check-up since 2005, and its relationships all seemed to be above-board and friendly. It struck me, as I sat in the overwhelmingly quiet room and studied the case, that this just might be an identity crisis. What if, in a moment of weakness and self-doubt, the book, who was a PS (12.R63 2002 -- American Literature), had attempted to make its home elsewhere: with its PR (English Literature) cousins, perhaps, or even with a second cousin once removed, over in PA (Greek and Latin Language & Literature)? I pondered my options, stood, sighed, and commenced the painstaking search. I checked every region that I deemed a possibility, walking up one row and down another with my eyes peeled, always looking out for similarities, but to no avail. Discouraged, I returned to the counter and added my thoughts and findings to the ever-growing list of failed-attempts.
The first investigator had certainly had some good ideas, but I found them difficult to decipher as they had obviously been written in a hurry. I paused, with the sheet suspended over its folder, an admission of defeat ready on my lips. Undecipherable. Was it really as simple as that? I perused the data again. Yes, there was the ‘P’ I had been looking for so carefully, but was it followed by an ‘S’ or—just possibly—a ‘5’? I revved the search engine and compared the title on my sheet with the one in the library catalogue. They did not match. With my breath quickening, I typed, “P512.R63 2002” and… a match! Results in hand, I nearly fell back down the stairs, casually skipped to the P section, and there it was, just waiting for me. With the prize cradled gently in my hands, I walked back upstairs and scanned the book’s barcode. Symphony – the library’s system software - kindly informed me “This item was reported as lost or assumed to be lost.” I sauntered triumphantly to place the book on a shelf to be sorted and relocated; the shelf label read, “Lost/missing/claims returned,” and underneath in big letters: “FOUND.” As I braved the quiet deeps of the library once more, I heard an echo in the large silent room, “for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found (Luke 15:24).” I smiled; there was more work to do.

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