"Most doctors, I soon learned, read history, biography, and mysteries. Men who broke their legs riding motorcycles always wanted Western stories. The psychiatrist requested books by Arthur Koestler. A man who said in civilian life he 'sold jewels to rich old women' shared my pleasure in James Thurber. Enlisted men often assked for books by Donald Henderson Clark, an author I had never heard of. The 9th Service Command's library philosophy was, 'Give the men what they want.' I ordered The Impatient Virgin, Tawny, and other Clark titles, which the men pounced on, usually saying, "I didn't think you would have these."
Best sellers were in demand, most of all Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor...that book, written by a classmate [from college], was a nagging reminder every time it crossed our new circulation desk that I too, wanted to write - if the war would ever end, and I could find time."
Interesting things happen in libraries. I was the Anthropology Librarian at the University of Edinburgh during my studies for a Master's Degree. It was a small library and I shared the position half-time with a Scot named Paul. One week, all the skin peeled off the bottoms of my feet. I wasn't sure what it was about but Paul's girlfriend mentioned during a shift change that the skin was peeling off the bottoms of Paul's feet. We're still not sure why, but we're pretty sure it had something to do with the library.
A Dutch student that came in to study smelled so bad that I would get a headache whenever he was in the room. Many people in Scotland don't have hot water in the winter, but this seemed extreme. I made the mistake of mentioning it to a friend [from Spain] who replied, "Yes, you Americans are very sensitive to things like that, aren't you?"
At Georgetown, I took many good naps on the 3rd floor of Lauinger [pictured above.] The sun streamed through the windows onto comfortable chairs and the sound of jet engines on final lulled me into restful slumbers. When I figured out how to stay awake (by studying in the carrols), I finally graduated. In the meantime, I wondered about Mark Lauinger, why he had died so young, and how his parents made enough money to have the library named for him. But I never once looked it up.
I did much of my research for my undergraduate thesis at the Newberry Library in Chicago, which had an excellent American Indian Studies collection. I loved the seriousness of my time there - the fact that I was only allowed one book at time, that it had to rest in a foam holder while I paged through it, and I was only allowed a pencil and a pad of paper in the study room -- nothing more. Sometimes, they even made me wear white cotton gloves to turn the pages. All of that made me feel very, very, smart.
Before Georgetown, there was a long stretch where I didn't spend any time in libraries at all. I'm a serial non-returner. Huge fines. I was actually committed to buying books rather than borrowing, since it wound up to be cheaper. And I'm still that way. I often visit the community college library or the library at University of Montana to do research, but I never, ever, ask for borrowing privileges. I'm just not that responsible.
In my youth, however, I spent many happy hours at the public library in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. Though I don't recognize it all from the photo tour. In the fourth grade, when I had the flu, I accidentally barfed on a library book. Not knowing what else to do, I just returned it.