Thursday, June 10, 2010

Interlibrary loan

I love interlibrary loan. I use it profligately, requesting articles and books in great piles when I'm doing research. The problem with that strategy is that the books tend to arrive all at once, and be due within a short time period a few weeks later.

But to tell you the truth, I kind of like that, too. Having to get the books read and the notes taken creates a kind of urgency. I have to organize the sources to get through them in the order in which they're due. I have to make time to work my way through them -- and that means setting aside time.

My time is Friday morning. I go to the coffee shop and spend three hours, if I can get there early enough, doing nothing but reading and notetaking. It's wonderfully extravagant to have that much time for books and ideas. But the luxury, the largesse of hours to dedicate to this task, is dependent on the urgency of deadlines. If I had the books indefinitely, would I ever get around to reading them? Isn't it the short-term loan of these items, the fact that their possibilities will only be available to be gleaned until a specified date, that makes them such a source of pleasure?

Like all indulgences, I feel guilty about this one. Yet as I spent the day with eighteen-year-olds entering the university, I realized how weird that must seem to non-academics. Feeling guilty about a half-day devoted to research? Maybe I'm through the looking glass. But you take your pleasures where you can find them, and I'll bet some of my colleagues will agree: nothing beats an empty calendar, a stack of books, and a citation organization system.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've got the free calendar and the lovely stack of ILL books, now I need a citation system that really works...that would be bliss. - Elena