Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Library Woes

It's been a trying afternoon.  After my friend's thesis defense (which I attended because I really need to see as many of these as possible before my time comes), I went to the library to check out some books for my thesis research. I took the time to hunt them down, looked through them to see which would be relevant, and when I got to the circulation desk to check them out the library assistant told me that I can't check books out over the summer because I'm not a registered student. I'm alumni, but it doesn't matter. I'm registered for the fall, that didn't matter either. They were unpersuaded by the fact that I'm a current student at the university. All that matters is whether or not I'm registered.

This wouldn't so much be a problem except that the first chapter of my thesis is due in 3 weeks. Yeah, 3 weeks and I can't check out books... not. cool. It means I also can't get interlibrary loans, which I need because our library only has about half of the books I need on hand. Again... not. cool. I can still use the database, but nothing else. Our library is normally so friendly and accommodating, but this is really frustrating and the frustration is compounded by the fact that I don't have the resources to pay for all the books I need (which would run me about $500 or so).  They're also not available through the local library. I might be able to get them online, through Google books, but not complete editions. Google books always cuts huge chunks out of books that are under copyright. So, without the university library I'm up a creek.

But there's more, you see. There are actually research grants available through my school to pay for materials for research projects (like a thesis), but when I inquired about it was told, gently, that they don't give them to people in the humanities because our materials are books, not beakers, and we can check books out of the library--this is a point of some frustration for my committee chair, too, because they treat professors looking for research grants exactly the same way. There's a huge bias toward the sciences; they have zero problems getting grants to pay for their beakers and slides, but ask the grants board for books and you might as well be invisible, or nonexistent, or speaking an alien language for all they snub you. It's disgusting and uncalled for. Our research is important, too, and books are what we need to get it done. But, whatever. It's a battle we can't win and an entire topic for another day.

On the verge of breaking down, Matt took me to Chilis for dinner where we plotted ways to get the books I need. Nothing was coming to us, except to get a friend to check them out for me, but that's not a good option because I don't want to care for books someone else is ultimately responsible for. There're too many things that could go wrong with that scenario. Then I remembered that there's a program called "Friends of the Library," but I didn't really know anything about it. When we got home, after some grumbling about it on Facebook, I was reminded by a friend about the program. I checked it out and it turns out that for $15 I could sign up for the program and have full library privileges for a year. The girl in the library didn't bother to tell me about it, though, so I was stuck feeling bad until I worked it out on my own. Would it have killed her to have said something, especially since I told her that the reason I was trying to check them out was that I was working on my master's thesis?

They've always been so nice, today they made me upset--though she did offer to hold the books for me, which I refused, and now wish I hadn't. So, I filled out the paperwork and now have to wait for 5-7 business days for the program information and "library card." It's annoying, and more of a wait than I really need right now, but it's the best I can do and it solves the problem until the fall semester gets here and I can use my Texan Card to check books out again. Of course, my first chapter will be done by then, so it's a somewhat moot point.

Anyway, the evening has been marginally better. We're having a killer storm, so I thought I'd share a few of the pictures I took.  They're not great, as I don't have an SLR camera--though I want one terribly!--but they're alright...

The first picture is the sunset, from over the fence behind our place [IMAGE REMOVED]. The metal fence separates our neighborhood from the rodeo arena and is like 9' high. Holding my camera up, that's the best I could do, but I think it came out pretty anyway. The other picture is the opposite side of the sky from that sunset, but about the same time. It's a rainbow, hopefully you can see it. It was so remarkably beautiful. So hard to believe both things are happening at the same time. The whole evening sky was burning orange, casting everything into hues of rust. It really was lovely and it helped to take my mind off of this library thing, as well as some other issues I'm having right now.

So, with all that, I'm off. Whether I have the books or not, I still have thesis research to do. It's 11:30 p.m, so I won't be doing it tonight, but getting an early start tomorrow morning is a great idea. A fresh start will be helpful for my psyche, but I can't get that without fixing my sleep schedule and getting back on track. Good night.