#1 – Scene at Library: The Day Job

“What the hell, Jim? Why aren’t those books re-shelved?” said Connor.

I very much dislike when people curse at me. I will have none of it.  I am entirely unable to respond to people when they use that kind of language. Mother says that unless the “H” word is used in a religious context, it is considered to be foul and uncivil. So, instead of dignifying Connor with a response, I continued my examination.

Then he stepped very aggressively between me and the books and continued to address me in an agitated manner.

“Jim! Don’t freakin’ act like you can’t hear me, dude. Listen I don’t know what you are doing sniffing those books, but they better be in the system and on the shelf before I get back from my break!”

He stormed out of the room and left me to myself. I honestly don’t understand why he is so upset.  I have processed and shelved at least 12 books today, and it isn’t even lunch.  And what I am doing with these books is entirely scientific. These books have been handled by thousands of library patrons. Project #36 seeks to study the possible evolution of scent of a book relative to the number of times it has been checked out.  The Wind in the Willows, for example, was just checked out by Marie Bellman and it’s scent has changed significantly; exquisitely in fact. I would very much like to meet this woman, and perhaps add her to my collection.

Although what I do is entirely mundane and nothing to be upset about, I find that I cannot explain to anybody what I really do without them getting a little uncomfortable.  But I make no allowance for ignorance, as Mother always says. So I endure the scorn because my smell collection is my life.  Well, smells and Mother.

I finished processing the books as quickly as I could, making last minute notes and pushing them around the front desk and out into the many rows of books. When Connor returns, it will be my turn to take a break. And I will go where I always go, where I will always go: to the post office.



  1. A good jumping on point for new readers. This episode reminded me of some of the smelly (and suspiciously tactile) library books I have come into contact with in my life. I am now off to wash my hands.

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