I was late to the library yesterday and was lucky to find my favourite desk still available. Now I love this desk, despite the implied nerdiness and even if it doesn’t, strictly, count as a desk, being as it is, a mere table, a long thin strip of book-sprawl potential jammed across the end of a real desk-carrel, with lamps and demarcations ready for serious students. No matter, it’s perfect, sited as it is in a cubby of numismatic catalogues, sunlight spilling over it through iron-framed glass doors, a light-filled oubliette where I can commit the heinous transgression known as using a phone in the library.
Now this phone is strictly forbidden and strictly necessary as it is fine-tuned for library time-saving. I have a mortgage-paying full-time job that cuts library hours to, at most, three each on Tues-Thurs evenings, and seven on a Saturday, 16 hours maximum each week. Worse, the library closes in the evenings and on Saturdays during academic and bank holidays but, as I study though the OU whose timetable’s different, it’s open to me least when my deadlines are closest.
So, first off on my phone there is Dropbox. All my notes, proposals, downloaded-from-JSTOR-papers, maps of the library with shelf number locations, all are filed with the rigour of an OCD accountant. And even before I get there, I search the library catalogue, sometimes even during a break at work, and splat the references straight through to my phone. Then I can in the shortest possible time pull from the shelves all the books, papers or whatever else I need.
Simply finding the books is another problem, as I’ve dyslexia*, which makes the library more than usually labyrinthine. Even simply remembering shelf references for the length of time it takes to check if it I’m looking at the right shelf is nigh on impossible. But lo, on my phone is a map to help me steer round, and on screen too in a convenient manner, are all those oh so forgettable numbers and names that I need to check repeatedly as I quest for the books.
Reading matter collected, I return to the desk where my phone acts as an aural mask, a stream of white noise** screening out the Saturday-happy academics chatter from the room beyond, helping me stay study-focussed after a full-already week. Before I finish for the day, the phone becomes a portable photocopier, camera snapping appendices and bibliographies, recording frontispieces ready and accurate for citation, capturing whole pages of books for later reading.
Hopefully, if my phone is noted, noted also will be the absence of noise or calls. Still, whilst the ‘no phones’ notice persists, I shall continue to attempt some kind of discretion.
* Or something like it; a years-ago assessment suggested dyscalcula or dysxpraxia might be a better description.
** Through headphones, of course. Yes, they are non-sound-leaky ones.