The library is my natural habitat. Wherever I am, I have to search for it. Like a sanctuary, it makes me feel comfortable, contented, and complete. I love that feeling you’re surrounded by books. That you would be drifted into different realms of places and ideas.
Once, unbeknownst to me, I disturbed the peace of the Student Assistants and the GAUF’s Librarians. I became a pain in their asses.
I was a university student then of Gregorio Araneta University Foundation (GAUF). The GAUF library occupied the whole third floor. Half of the space was populated with tables and chairs. The other half was partitioned by steel railings perched on a long horizontal counter top. And there, housed the library’s office, the arrays of book shelves six feet high, and the catalog room composed of cabinets full of index cards.
For one to get books to read, one has to get the book’s index codes from the catalog’s room arranged by category, subject, title, author, etc. One has to jot down the code, presents it to the counter – the Student Assistant or the Librarian will fetch the code, find the book on the shelf and bring the book back to the borrower who waits.
I usually get four to five codes of books to borrow. On my first time doing that, a Student Assistant who fetches my codes disappeared for about 15 minutes. When she came back, she was pissed off, her eyes fiery as she dropped off the books to my front making a loud thud, and fountain of dust just shoots up in the air emitting musty-moldy smell.
I learned this theory that the dustier and moldier the books are, the more treasure is buried in them. It was this way I discovered the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe, Somerset Maugham, William Thackeray, Charles Dickens. And the secret was, at the catalog’s area, one has to thread the index card less traveled. Those that were still clean and uncrumpled, because, they were the codes of books rarely borrowed. And they were the books that have been collecting dust for years and years on the shelves.
One week of doing of this, I became the notorious “dusty book gatherer” from among the Student Assistants and the Librarians. They hated me, evading to service me at all cost. When they saw me standing at the counter, they pretended they were busy, hiding themselves from the stacks of shelves, and when they see other patrons waiting at the counter they run in their direction, but not in mine. As for the Librarian on duty, they would just try to get busy on their desk avoiding my stares.
I thought of reporting this discrimination to the Student Affairs Office. But I didn’t like to disturb the hornet’s nest yet. So, instead of four or five codes I just presented one code one time. Luckily, one new Student Assistant noticed I’ve been waiting long enough than the others. She took my code. Other Student Assistants subtly gossiped on her while getting the book. Words, probably spread around that I made some adjustment. Now, my waiting time at the counter reduced, although after every two hours I would come back to present again one new code. That arrangement posed as a compromise.
One day the Librarian approached me. Evidences of exasperation showed in his face. “When are you going to graduate”? He asked. I said, “Not in five years, as I am just taking two to three courses in one semester. And I am just on my first year now”.
The male Librarian hunched his shoulder down, as he just got one terrible news.