October 23, 2006
A View from the Stacks: If Technicians Gave Library Tours
I have this fantasy that involves me giving tours of the CIA Headquarters. I have no idea why. No, actually, I do. You know when you see a movie (most likely adapted from a Tom Clancy novel) or the TV show Alias and they inevitably show the “look we really did shoot this in Langley because we are showing you the huge seal on the floor that reads Central Intelligence Agency” scene that is supposed to impart a great deal of significance to the rest of the story? Yep, I want to show and highlight that seal to people in between saying “We’re walking, we’re walking. Please stop and look to you left now.”
But, I work in a law library. We do not see much espionage here. But, I do like to think about what I would highlight in my library if I had to give a tour. On occasion, we have groups of people who request tours of our space, either out of curiosity or because they are from a legal research class. People show up, mill around and then ask to be given a tour, at which point I demure and find a reference librarian. I am not sure if it is because I don’t feel qualified to give tours or if I am just not wearing comfortable footwear, but every time I have been asked about tours, I do not volunteer myself to take them around the library. This is odd, because here would be my chance to live out my dream of giving tours, albeit without a big seal on the floor to highlight.
So what would I highlight should I ever actually agree to give a guided tour of the library? Well, I would like to say that I would point out the technology that we have to compliment our book collection. I might even stop and explain how our space has changed throughout the years due to changing needs, being moved from our space for renovation, etc. And, of course, our view of Puget Sound is pretty impressive.
However, I think a worthwhile feature of any library tour might be showing folks what a pocket part is and how to insert them into the back of a book. Also, I might express myself through a quick diatribe on the topic of weekly filing in overstuffed binders. Oh, and I would be remiss in not mentioning that reshelving your books in any old place is highly frowned upon. Perhaps the tour could even engage in a little hands on exercise by filing a loose-leaf service so they can see what “updating” really involves. I would probably conclude the tour by talking about some of our more exciting patron transactions (and any celebrity gossip that might seem relevant).
In the meantime, I will continue to watch The Sum of All Fears and spend my time planning the installment of a large seal with a book and gavel on it that reads “King County Law Library” for the library. I wonder if I can make budget requests?
Stina McClintock, Library Technician, King County Law Library (Seattle) and Beer Judge (BJCP)
Editor's Note: "Consensus facit legem" is not the motto of the King County Law Library. And the above seal is not the official seal of the King County Law Library. I added the motto to this playful little graphic as a timely reminder of the upcoming elections. The Latin phrase means "consent makes the law" as in if two persons make an agreement in good faith and with full knowledge, the law will insist on its being carried out. In political theory, consensus facit legem represents a foundation myth for republican forms of government, one that legitimizes peaceful and orderly elections and and not so peaceful nor orderly revolutions. Our Bill of Rights originates in the recognition that consensus facit legem does not protect the rights of minorities and individuals from the tyranny of the majority. [JH]
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