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Oh Library of Congress, How You Disappointed Me

I wanted to title this something really mean, like “The Library of Congress Sucks” or “The Government Lied to Me” but that’s not really fair.

libraryofcongress.jpgSince today is one of my weekend days (since I work on the weekend, I take Tues and Fri off…at least a bit), I decided to head over to the Library of Congress to track down that pesky book. I have a reader card, after all.

So I filled out the form and settled in to wait. I had checked beforehand to make sure I went to the closest reading room. Well my book was supposed to be in the Jefferson building, so I went to the Main Reading Room. That way I could get it comparatively sooner.

Having seen the notice before about 45 minute (or longer) wait times even in the building, I brought along another book. Thank goodness.

45 minutes came and went. Whatever.


Hour and fifteen minutes.

Hour and a half.

Hour and three quarters—the book-fetcher delivered me ………………… my request back. And in the upper right corner you’ll see a red “x” for “Not on Shelf.”

I suppose they lost it…or it “walked out” (can books do that at the LOC? they do it all the time in our county library but we don’t have good security). That’s rather disappointing since it’s out-of-print and very hard to get one’s hands on. Ironic, too, since I grew up in a public library which did have it.

Of course, it could be that two of us came in one the same day with the same frustration about not finding it elsewhere. And since I don’t have all the facts I shouldn’t blame it on the library. I was quite nice to the lady, however, and thanked her for handling it. I know how it feels to be the one to tell a patron that we don’t have the book or it’s not on the shelf. And I know how it feels if the patron gets angry with me over something I didn’t do.

Anyway, while I ended up with a bit of a headache, I decided to make the most of my trip. So after emerging into a glorious day in DC, I walked from the library (across the street from the Capitol) down the National Mall until I got to the Smithsonian Metro Station (which actually has an exit on the Mall).

Birds were singing, trees and flowers were blooming, the sky was bright, the air was crisp. I’d advise bringing tissues in the future because the wind was also blowing up the dust, which made me sneeze. But on the whole it was a delicious walk.

Next step: Contact my mother, ask her to check the book out and mail it to me (perhaps on my old library card…it should still work).

Update: A few months later, I’ve gotten the book and taken extensive notes and completely forgiven the LOC, though I’m worried about whether or not they’ll find their copy. Even if I don’t need it any more, it’s a good book.


Jen the Librarian March 25, 2008 at 5:35 pm

Sorry to hear that LC disappointed you.

Is this the book you’re looking for?
It’s at 383 libraries in the country. If you’re in the greater DC area, you might be able to get it at the Alexandria (Va) library (it’s checked in at all 3 branches that have it – Beatley, Burke, and Duncan), or one of the 3 MD libraries that seem to have it. It’s surprising to hear that your local branch won’t get it for you through Interlibrary Loan since so many libraries do seem to have a copy. Maybe go in and wave a printout of that WorldCat record.

Hope you can track down the book at a library near you! (But, fellow readers, please don’t “lose” library books, no matter how dear – there are undoubtedly others out there who may one day stumble upon such gems on the shelf and have a world open up for them too!)

Mrs. Micah March 25, 2008 at 5:55 pm

Hi Jen!

That’s the one. Apparently my MD library won’t talk to those ones…I guess. They have a weird policy about ILLing. The last county I worked in would get you a book from Japan if that was the closest copy (my coworker who ran the ILLs was so proud of that one). This one’s not as flexible.

Since I work at the library, waving the record probably won’t work…though I can try insinuating myself with the ILL dept and see where that gets me. 😉

Christine March 25, 2008 at 6:25 pm

Birds singing? Trees blooming? Sheesh.

It snowed again today.

Susan March 25, 2008 at 8:40 pm

Sorry it was a frustrating time for you. Hope you get a hold of that book soon.

Birds singing here; haven’t noticed much blooming, though.

Mark @ TheLocoMono March 25, 2008 at 9:52 pm

You can always look up on Google Books, or even ask them to add it to their book collection, here’s a link where you can find a copy in the Baltimore area.,%20MD#tabs

Mark @ TheLocoMono March 25, 2008 at 9:55 pm

Disregard, I just noticed there’s a link already. My bad.

Rachel @ Master Your Card March 27, 2008 at 11:03 am

The decline in library use makes me sad but when you get the sort of service that you experienced it is hardly surprising. It is a great way of being frugal but if the choice is limited or not available then it is not surprising that people would rather buy the book instead.

ex LC March 28, 2008 at 10:43 pm

Sorry your trip wasn’t a success–this isn’t always the case, but sometimes the people doing the book retrieval are only looking at exactly where the book should be, rather than scanning the shelves above and below too. I saw that there’s another copy available in off site storage, and you actually might have a better chance of retrieval with that one. You might try the Science and Technology Reading Room (Adams Building) Ask a Librarian, see if they can get a request in and have it ready for you when you come.

Give the Library another chance (the more you use it, the more your expectations will both lower and rise!) It’s still an unbelievable resource and if you’re ever researching hard core on a specific topic and manage to find the right librarian, you’re golden.

Interesting info:

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