Tuesday, July 2, 2013

When the Wild Goose You're Chasing is a Book.

As a life-long lover of books, I can say with certainty that in the past few days, I've worked harder than I've ever had to for a single book.

It all started when I read an article on Brain Pickings about anxiety and creativity. The article mentioned a book called The Meaning of Anxiety, by Rollo May. It sounded damn interesting - not the usual text bookish or self help workbook about anxiety, but something philosophical instead.

I love philosophy, so I clicked on the "search the world's libraries" link they provide on the site and discovered a copy of the book at the Citadel.

Easy enough, I thought. I'm an alumna there - they should let me check it out.

It was not that easy.

After a few phone calls to the Citadel library and their graduate office, I was told that my Master's degree didn't count in their system, and that the College of Charleston is my "parent" institution, (though I took numerous classes at the Citadel!) so I didn't have alumni privileges. Therefore, I could not check out the book.

I was not a happy camper.

"Why don't you try the Pascal Exchange?" asked the helpful graduate office employee. "We can have it sent to CofC for you to pick up."

Well, while she was coaching me through that website, we discovered that CofC had its own copy of the book. Apparently, it just hadn't been listed on that national search I performed the day before. (Yes, this was taking more than a day.)

But the nasal-voiced College of Charleston library employee told me that their alumni don't get to check out books, period. Unless you pay a fee to become a Friend of the Library, that is.

I had gone from angry to downright sad. Why must it be so difficult to obtain a book? I wasn't ready to give up yet. I called the Citadel back. My friend at the graduate office was surprised when I told her what had happened with my "parent" institution.

"Let me see what I can do," she said. "I want to help you."

She called me back later that day and said that the book was waiting for me at the library! I was thrilled.

But...when I got to the library, I had to convince the people working there that I was telling a true story, since they weren't the ones who'd been notified. Luckily, one woman who knew of my ardent book chase emerged from a back room and declared that I was, indeed, legit. She got down to business creating a Citadel library card for me, which I stuffed into my floral wallet as gleefully as any hard-earned prize.

"I'm sorry this has been such a hassle for you," grumbled the older gentlemen who had doubted my credibility.

"No problem," I said, stroking the dusty spine of the book, which I'd plucked off a shelf of other infrequently-read tomes.

"I'm a lover of books, and this proves to me is that books are still highly valuable, no matter what the cultural nay-sayers want to think," I went on, much to their amusement.  "Who'd have thought that this old book could cause this much dedication?"

They heartily agreed with me. I tucked the book under my shirt since it was raining outside and went to meet Alice for a beer, giddy with triumph.

It's not every day that you win the battles you pick.

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