The other day I was at a library. I won’t say which one as I don’t want to embarrass anyone. However, they seemed to be doing a fine job in that department on their own, and most certainly do not need me for it. I was looking for a book by Eliot. I went to the E section, and found an Eliot, but not the right one. However, in the same section I found Jane Austen’s Emma. I thought this was rather curious. Further down I located Eugene O’Neill’s work. Hrm. Most strange. I realized that their alphabetization system is most peculiar, and dare I say, haphazard.
So I went to the T section. No, the book I was looking for was not there. S? No, not there either. By now you must realize I was looking for T.S. Eliot. The Waste Land to be specific. So I looked under W, T again, and even L, for good measure. None of these places had what I was looking for. In consolation I managed to persuade myself that someone must have surely checked it out. Even a library that doesn’t seem to know how the alphabet works must have a copy of T.S. Eliot. Somewhere.
I know what you must be thinking. That these books were misplaced by patrons. And this would make the most sense, except the actual call numbers on the spines of the books indicated that their placement was indeed as it was. For example, Austen’s Emma had the call number that started with EMM, and was “properly” arranged in the E section.
I walked around some, and found Shakespeare under H, for Hamlet. George Orwell’s 1984 was in the X section, which I understood to be a snide commentary of his work on the part of the librarian. Meyer’s Twilight was under Y, for reasons unknown. Unless the librarian was asking “why was this ever written?” In which case that might just be the only accurate placement in the entire library.
I spent about half an hour perusing the various sections. Once in a while, whoever devised this system got it right, and the books were actually placed according to the author’s last name. But for the most part it appeared as though someone randomly picked letters from the middle of the author’s name, or title of the work, and stuck them on the book. It quickly became a game of “how did this book end up where it is?” Sometimes this was obvious, and other times I made up my own scenarios. Next time I am looking for a book, perhaps one that I don’t immediately need, I will try this library again. For amusement purposes. And pictures.