Friday, February 8, 2008

The musk of the library.

I went to the University of Chicago library for the first time today as a trip to pick up books for ME and not someone else. I was looking for some books about Conservative Judaism, as well as the U of C's copy of "Constantine's Sword" since I haven't finished the public library's version yet, and it's two weeks late and I've hit my renewal limit ... so hopefully I can get it done within my bounds at the library here. (Of note: They made a movie from the book, due out next month, I guess. You can find info here.)

The lights were dimmed, or rather, some of the lights were blown out, so it was dark and still in the stacks where all the Judaica is kept up on the third floor. Gold Hebrew script bounced off the shelves from books noted with patron check-outs from the 1920s and 40s and beyond. Names of people, perhaps long dead, or long gone away. Copies of the great Jewish books and texts written by the great Jewish thinkers past and present. Books losing their binding, held together by shoe strings tied carefully, close to the cover.

It made me smile. It also made me miss the hours I spent in the library researching Grant and the Jews in my junior year. Not to mention my time working at the library my senior year. Libraries are these beautiful, ancient places that I think will never disappear, but will fade into memory, as all civilized forms of bookkeeping do. But the precious, the few will maintain their shelves, keep binding clean and relish in the smell of a musty, old, overly loved book. It sometimes makes me jealous of Beth -- a life of library science. It's a beautiful, unique thing.

I went over my "lunch hour" if you could call it that. I really just wanted to sit there, on the floor, with the Hebrew and German books open, staring, hoping for osmosis to finally kick in. It makes me understand that learning German would be a good thing. I suppose some day, when both of my now-bosses are out of town or otherwise occupied, I will place myself on the floor of the third floor of the U of C Regenstein library, and open book after book reading the wisdom of our ancestors and forefathers.

There is so very much of it. I can only hope to gather some of it in my time.


On an unrelated note, my first review over at was posted! Give it a look :)