You, my anonymous (or, as seems more likely, not-so-anonymous) reader(s), will remember that I’m in graduate school. This summer, I’m doing an internship in an academic library. This is in addition to working full-time, and lest at any time in the future excessive tiredness should overwhelm my capacity to express gratitude, let me say now that I am very grateful to my employers for letting me work an alternative schedule during the seven or so weeks of my internship. I am also very grateful to my internship hosts for the opportunity to gain some real library experience.
This alternative schedule means that, Monday through Thursday, I’m working – either at work or my internship – from about 7 in the morning to 7 at night. Friday I spend a regular day at work, and then I spend Sunday afternoons at my internship again. So, needless to say, I’m pretty tired. In fact, I’m amazed that I’m still awake right now.
The biggest project that I’m working on for my internship involves sorting through two year’s worth of interlibrary loan request data and ultimately performing some data analysis once I’ve gotten through all that sorting. But the sorting is very tedious work. Up until yesterday, looking at every single line of data in a several hundred thousand line spreadsheet has been an entirely humorless process, and one during which I have debated sticking toothpicks into my eyes to keep them open, if toothpicks were available.
Yesterday, however, I noticed a few of the titles that had been requested through interlibrary loan, and I would have laughed out loud in my dark little room on my not-height-adjustable excruciatingly uncomfortable intern’s chair, but I didn’t have the energy. This photo demonstrates the level of enthusiasm I found myself able to muster outwardly.
Without further ado, the titles requested by users of my academic library:
Teaching Grammar in Context, Human Rights Watch 2004. Now, I suspect that this is one of the many data errors in the data I’m looking at, but I still found it funny, if it were true, that a human rights organization would be the publisher of a work about teaching grammar in context. It’s funny, right? In my head the humor is entirely bound up in the idea of grammar being pristine and inviolable, and my sense of people in general viewing their abuse of grammar as a basic human right. Ha ha ha!!!
The Ethics of Star Trek. I’m hoping there was an analogy they were making somewhere.
The Ultimate Verbal and Vocabulary Builder. Last time I checked, verbs were vocabulary, too. Does using two words that mean essentially the same thing count as building one’s vocabulary?
And now, my personal favorite:
How to Write A Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing. Oh, there’s just so much that could be said about this title. For instance, are we sure that “a lot” is really the best descriptive term with which to title a work about academic writing? Then, there’s the obvious question about whether any academic writing is productive. But put those two things together, and it’s been my experience that having as a goal to write “a lot” does not lead to “productive” writing, unless you measure productivity by quantity of words, rather than quality, or by the overall work’s ability to stand the test of time. I’m just saying. Maybe they could have spent a lot more time on that title.