Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Shiny, the Distracting--the Library

My apologies, dear readers, for leaving you for so long, but I had much to do finishing up my work for this term. But Orestes is done and put to rest, and I look now to much less depressing things--Sappho! And believe me you, despite her sometimes sad themes, the woman is much less depressing than Orestes. I suspect I shall cease having tragic dreams now.

But that is not my topic today. Today, dear readers, I intend to discuss libraries. Libraries for most people are a place of study. This seems obvious and a given. However, to me, they are a place of infinite distraction! When I was in there two days ago, I was struck by the powerful urge to look up something that was completely unrelated to the work I was supposed to be doing at the time. So I looked, but as I passed another shelf, I saw something else I "needed" to look at. The hours I can waste in a library are astounding.

And today, of course, I spent half of the afternoon researching Roman theatres for a friend of a friend--just because I could in this wonderful, distracting Classics library!

I really do think I get more of my actual work done when I'm in my room with a limited set of books.

This is not even to mention that by this point, I know most people, so that it's become the social hub of the Faculty as well. People know better than to bother you too much when you're actually working, but you can really get stopped for five conversations on your way in or out.

My conclusion? The Library = Shiny Centre of Information, Socializing, and Distracting Doom.

And as if the distraction of a normal well-stocked library weren't enough (ok, there is nothing "normal" about the Classics library here, but I get distracted in other libraries too), Mary Beard makes me drool over lost treasures of nineteenth century literature! I don't think I can express how much this excites me. If I weren't doing Classics, I'd be doing English literature, and my area would be either medieval lit, Shakespeare, or nineteenth century lit. When Classics and nineteenth century lit collide and have little babies (which is far more often than we'd discuss in most of my English classes), it makes my little head spin with glee. Glee, I tell you. Lots and lots of glee. 'Tis a gleeful thing.


Anonymous cb4260 said...

I have only gotten stopped for a long conversation in a library once or twice over the years, but everything else you said pretty much applies to me, too. If there is any possible way to get distracted in a library, I'll find it. Finding cool, fascinating information that has nothing whatsoever to do with what I'm supposed to be researching is practically a given. It's how I get some of my best ideas.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Glaukôpis said...

In *most* libraries, I don't get stopped for conversations very often (maybe a small handful of times in undergrad), but in the Classics library, there are few enough of us that if we don't actually know each other, we recognize most people by sight.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glee? When Classics and English lit collide in so tragic a tale as Jude the Obscure? Or so obtuse a text as Ulysseys? Look, the only "happy" marriage between English lit and the classics has been a few obtuse references in Shakespeare, and Gibbon's great history of Rome's final days. Otherwise forget it!

6:05 PM  
Blogger Glaukôpis said...

That's only accounting for adaptations of Classical stories by English authors. Classics literally drips through most if not all of English literature. Are you really saying all of that is worthless? The Classics were the very basis of the education of these nineteenth century authors. They couldn't help but be influenced! What's tragic is that most people miss these subtleties today and need footnotes to tell people who Danae was or what the Apollo Belvidere was.

English authors used these references for a reason. Sometimes it was just to be pompous and show off their education, but sometimes it was because the then common knowledge of these figures could strike a precise image for the audience. We're missing quite a lot of thought and artistry when we miss these cues, same as when we don't understand the influences of Classical works.

So yes, I'm filled with glee when Classics and English lit collide--because I happen to like a lot of the English lit I've read.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Sean Manning said...

And with the invention of the internet and the creation of sites like the Perseus Project and the Theban Mapping Project ( ) libraries can follow us into our homes! What are we to do, I ask you (especially those of us with other halves of a double major to study for)? To think there are advantages to going to a university with one general library and a reading room per department...

9:22 PM  
Blogger Glaukôpis said...

Oh indeed, I don't know what I would have done with myself if we'd had separate libraries for Classics, English, and history back at home.

6:34 AM  

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