I am in Bobst library between my two classes for the day, having just gone over my notes once again to ensure that I know what I’m talking about (more or less—this semester, due to baby constraints, is a bit of a hodgepodge by nature) before standing in front of a group of students for a couple of hours.
Each floor in a library like this one—an academic library—has its own constituency, its own sense of place, its own culture, if you will. It took me a moment to find a floor that I thought would suit me; I first went to the second, but it was too studious, then to the fifth, but it was too open, then to the international documents floor (I forget already—the 7th? It’s not my library…) before finally settling on the 9th floor.
Here it’s quiet and there’s something of a mix of unshaven and scruffy sleeves-rolled-up types sitting in a kind of staggered array throughout the stacks. There’s a big window here with vertical blinds and just enough sunlight is streaming in. It’s an ideal place—the sort of place I’d like to “bookmark” and return to again for work purposes. It’s the sort of place conducive to things like dissertation research and writing for someone working on topics like mine. I like it.
As if to justify these first impressions, at the place where I sat down next to an interior wall, the following text appears, scrawled in pen just next to me, in precisely the place I’d write if I were to decide to write on the wall of the library:
The months are written in several different pen widths and shades. I don’t know for sure that each month name was written during the same year and during the month in question, but I’d like to think that’s the case, perhaps even by the same person.
The image of someone returning to just this spot regularly over the course of an entire year—to this view from the window, this desk amidst the stacks, this bit of sunlight streaming in—is reassuring somehow. It almost lends to this library a resurgent solidity, the antidote to the melting-into-air that creeps in around the edges of modernity.
I have to leave in about five minutes to teach my class, but I couldn’t be more glad I came here today between my teaching engagements. Hopefully I’ll remember where I am and come back again later.