The Incredible Shrinking Collection

 Yes, it's happening: The Collection is shrinking.  There was the Great Weed of 2012 and the Rethinking of 2021, not to mention the Rise of the eARCs and the General Tidying of 2017... but there are fewer books.  And, also, fewer bookshelves.

Before the Great Weed, The Collection and Mt. Bookpile were too big to fit comfortably on the eight 8' bookcases, the six 7' bookcases and the three 4' bookcases.  Things were sorted into so many genres: Children's/Young Adult, Mystery, Speculative Fiction (which included all Science Fiction and Fantasy), Legal, Political Science, Humor, Horror, Cookbooks, French, Literature, Popular Fiction. Reference, Women's Studies and History.  

After the Great Weed, there was room on the bookcases, but it wasn't until I left the townhouse that two of the 7' bookcases left to take up residence in two other homes, helping colleagues house their collections.  The different genres stayed, mostly because Move One required that The Collection remain boxes (Mt. Bookpile was on the few shelves that fit into that home).

Move Two brought The Collection out and back onto shelves.  There was a General Tidying, and the genres shrank to Children's/Young Adult, Mystery, Speculative Fiction (which included all Science Fiction and Fantasy), Humor, Horror, Cookbooks, Literature/Fiction and Non-Fiction.  The 4' bookcases were repurposed, serving as organizers and home office supply holders.  And then, just about a month ago, I embarked on the Rethinking of 2021, compelled by Move Three.

I'm on the other side of that move (mostly), and none of the 7' bookcases are here; of the remaining four, three are in off-site storage and one fell apart while being moved.  There are enough empty shelves to get rid of one of the 8' bookcases (which I am not going to do!  the Mantle Cats and some memorabilia/knickknacks/photos can be displayed on those shelves), and one of the 4' bookcases is also about to bite the dust and will be allowed to expire as soon as additional shelving for the linen closet can be purchased.  

Yesterday, I got seven new books.  All were eARCs, courtesy of publishers.  I still purchase print, but usually only books that I know I'll re-read or books that Thing One would also like to read.  And even though I've just moved in, Move Four is in the back of my mind due to my impending retirement (by 2024/5).  What will The Collection look like then?


Chapter Seven

 In which a sense of normal would be appreciated...

If you've ever moved, you know that things take some time to feel normal.  It's a question of where you've put things, getting used to new noises and new layouts, and figuring out your new shopping/commuting/life routine.  

For some reason, packing always feels worse than unpacking.  But sometimes things get a little weird.  Weird how?  

  • When I was packing, I put all my laundry into a mesh laundry bag. We had the moving company do the big packing, and my assumption was that if anything, they'd put the bag in a box.  End of.  Well... these packers unpacked my laundry, putting it into a box along with the laundry bag.  Luckily, they'd also put shoes in that box so there was no "is this clean? is it dirty?" confusion.
  • The other lucky part of the laundry being packed separately is that my "delicates" are missing.  All I have right now is whatever was in the laundry.  I really don't want to purchase replacements, so I'm hoping that the unopened boxes that are labelled LR or K were actually supposed to be MBR 
  • Along with that box, all my personal items (including deodorant, make-up, hairbrush and the like) are also somewhere.  I could swear I saw a box marked "make up" but I think that might have been move-happy hallucinating.
My bedroom is unpacked, although there is still the whole question of whether certain items belong where they are now.  I've also gotten the Very Strong Impression that I am not the preferred renter in this building. You see, there are 9' ceilings, and the Elfa shelving in the closet is arranged for someone more like Kareem (7'2") than li'l ol' 5'45" me.

Next come the book boxes, all 30+ of them, which will leave a few that could possibly hold the missing items.  If not, it's back to the Old Place to see what might have been left there (several items are going into storage and those will move Tuesday).  

And then there's The Herd.  Packing Day they stayed under the beds all day.  Moving Day they were put into a bathroom filled with their favorite plushy furniture, along with water, food and a litter box.  Where did they stay?  Under the vanity. As the unpacking has been going on, they've been exploring, hiding (Baby Girl does a great impression of unmade sheets under a tidy bedspread) and generally getting to know the New Place.  

The Boy is one of those strong silent types: quick to hiss if he feels his space is being invaded, even faster to nip at hands (requiring doctors and medication), but never actually vocalizing.  Big Girl coos, chirp, purrs and talks; Baby Girl squeaks, chirps and purrs so loudly it can be heard two states over.  The Boy never made a sound beyond the hiss.  Until the first night in the new place.  Apparently he can make sounds, loud ones.  It's like a baby crying and yelping at once, a pained "OW" that made me first worry that someone had gotten hurt thanks to a semi-rigid box and household item that wasn't put away properly.  But no, it was just The Boy, showing us he could talk, too.

Can we just go back to normal?

To be continued...

ETA: apparently the movers thought Thing One liked wearing women's undergarments and wore make-up: there were two boxes marked "his" that in this case were "hers"


Chapter Six

 In which Our Heroine contemplates collapsing and never moving again...

Everything got packed and moved to the New Place.

How it started How it's going

Next step, unpacking.  Starting any moment now.  Really.  I promise.

To be continued...



 Because I'm stuck at MPOW waiting (and watching) our basement get emptied out, I decided to do a little housecleaning on the blog.  Yes: there are new links on the right.  Check them out and enjoy!

Chapter Five

 In which Our Heroine deals with a deadline...

The move is fast approaching.  As in, later this week.  YIKES.  

Last week I took time to go through each section of The Collection and Mt. Bookpile and did some weeding, and then (with a huge assist from Thing One) every section was packed back into the boxes that had brought them from my house to the last place to here.

(Pro Tip: Home Depot/Lowes small boxes are great, but they only last 4 moves, max).

 I even took the time to re-inventory Mt. Bookpile so that what was in the boxes actually matches my list of To Be Read Books.  Over the summer I'll re-inventory everything else and make sure my catalog matches what's on the shelves.  For insurance purposes only, I swear!  Really!  My closet also got a good going through, and there's a nice pile ready for the charity shop.  

Because of course there's also a huge project on at work, I've been sitting here all day waiting for a truck to take some materials away.  That means the "errands" for today will be pushed back to tomorrow.  And today will be spent looking at items in the kitchen, the "basement" storage and all office supplies.  We'll see what stays and what goes from those.  I still have to pack my art works, jewelry and bathroom (that'll be one of the many things that gets done tomorrow).  

It'll be close, but I'll get it done.  There's a deadline, after all.

To be continued...


More about the past year...

Cribbing, as usual, from Philosophy Mom, who does a Friday Five, which this week is a "taking stock of quarantine" question set.

1. In what ways has pandemic life been positive for you?

MPOW has been incredibly generous, allowing those of us who felt uncomfortable going in to work every day (for personal health reasons, or because we lived with/cared for someone who had health reasons, etc.) to simply say that and work from home.  Because there were so few students allowed into the library, the four librarians just rotated weekly and did the WFH thing the rest of the time.  We were also provided with weekly COVID tests, and more than enough PPE/cleansing wipes.

I got reading and binge-watching done while I've been home, and I haven't managed to get so irritated with Thing One that I've killed him (although my staff promises that they'll help me hide the body and/or get bail... do I trust them on that? maybe... maybe not... they really love his cookies...) 

The flip side (which isn't asked about here!) is that being at home and cooped up has irritated my dust allergy beyond belief.  I've gained some weight, although that's starting to come off.  I know, not the biggest problems in the world.   

2. Where (and how often) did you get your pandemic news this past year?

Daily, and from a variety of sources: MSNBC, BBC, The Guardian UK, The Washington Post, Toronto Globe & Mail, Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal.  Sometimes someone would tweet a link to a story on another platform, like LA Times or HuffPo.  The Massachusetts COVID website.  My school (for what our plans were, what protective steps were being taken, etc.).

3. Where did you find unexpected comfort in these crazy twelve months?

Our weekly family Sunday Zoom (for which I've come up with interesting titles–that's another post much later this year). The yahrzeit for my mother and the memories that brought back. The Herd and cuddling with them more frequently.  

4. What are some little things you miss most about what used to be normal life?

  • Pub trivia 
  • Going to Montreal and Europe
  • Eating in restaurants
  • Seeing students
  • Lunch with colleagues
  • Hanging out with friends
  • Wearing more than my pjs most of the time (well, miss might be too strong... I definitely miss the need to wear something else, but pj's are so comfy!) 
  •  Live theatre and music and dance, be it professional or a student production

 None of those are terribly "little" are they?

5. What do you think life will be like twelve months from now?

Work with be mostly on-campus, and most of the students will have returned to daily classes.  We'll still be wearing masks, and I don't know if that means we won't be dining out or travelling, but it does mean we'll be able to be out in public a bit more.  I'll be able to see my father more easily, and maybe my sister (who is in Canada, so there's a whole border thing to deal with).

Mostly, I hope that we'll have begun to heal as a country, with the divides narrowing (I don't think they'll ever go away) and the screaming heads on both sides will have less influence. 


What a year it's been

One year ago today, I got the phone call that said that we were closing the school a day early for Spring Break. I already knew that we were going to be closed after Break, at least for a while, reopening as a remote learning institution.  Little did I then think that we'd be remote or hybrid a year later, or that I'd still be scared to go outside.  And the deaths.  Over 500,000 of them

Nearly one death for every minute in a year.    

Let that sink in.

As happens with any major new change, language has changed.  Language Log had this post pointing to some of the other word bloggers and words that sprang up as early as May 2020.  Some, like "Boomer Remover" or "Infits" haven't had staying power.  These, on the other hand...
  • Quarantimes 
  • Covidiot
  • WFH
  • Beforetimes
  • Jab
  • Infodemic
  • Shelter-in-place
  • Social distancing
  • PPE
I wonder if we'll be using them this time next year.  Part of me is afraid to find out.



One idiot, two idiots, red idiots, blue idiots

 This whole "Dr. Seuss is cancelled" thing has gotten so far out of control it's not funny.

Apparently, Fox News has been going on about this for days, ignoring other, more important stories.

As a librarian, I've known that the Dr. Seuss books have been problematic 🔒for a while (yes, even Cat in the Hat).  Luckily, my students are at least nine years old, so it's not a collection development issue for me.  

What's getting lost here is that the "canceller" is the actual publisher, on the advice of Seuss' estate.  And it's only six of his books.  Of those six, I know one (I think my copy is still in my father's basement, along with my Richard Scarry books [also racist/sexist], but they may have gone to my sister's children): And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. The other five?  Nope.  And I have a copy of The Tough Coughs as He Ploughs the Dough!  So it's not like I only know one or two of his books.  

If a librarian who works with young readers doesn't have these six books on their shelves now, or removes them to add other, newer books, no one would say anything.  And it's incredibly unlikely that the blowhards on Fox had any idea they existed before now.  So please, let's just ignore the fuss and move on to other, far more important things.

Oh, and cancel culture?  This ain't that.  Unless you're trying to gin up anger over a nothingburger. 


Chapter Four

 In which some small steps are taken...

We have keys!  And measurements... so now I have to figure out how to fit the 21' of bookcases onto the walls (I'm thinking 4 x 4, which will also leave room for the tv).  Yesterday the mover came to give an estimate and we organized which items would go to the new place and which would go to a new storage space.  The storage pickup will be later this month, taking the remaining items from here and our current storage and moving them all to a new storage space (to be arranged later).  

The movers are going to pack up most of the apartment.  But not, of course, the books.  Nope.  I am, perhaps unsurprisingly, finicky about those.  The boxes from the last move are in the current storage space, already labelled with the appropriate genres.  Yes, more will be needed but it's a good start and a great opportunity to look over The Collection to see what might wind up being exiled.

Clothes and knickknacks and everything else, oh my!  

Utilities are being changed, as are credit cards.  I need a new EZPass, one from Massachusetts so I can get the tunnel discount.  Slowly the checklist is growing... growing... I'll never catch up.

To be continued...