Into the labyrinth

Memo to any future maltriculants to Duke Divinity School or Graduate Program in Religion:

Don't skip the library tour.

The library tour was the only thing going on at orientation the day I was supposed to take it, so I figured it wasn't worth the schlep in the hot August sun over to campus for that one event. After all, it's just a library. If there's anything I know, it's my way around libraries. And this way I can have the fun and adventure of exploring on my own time.

I should have remembered that, in three years at Yale, I never did figure out how to navigate Sterling Memorial Library.

But Sterling was the big university library. A Divinity school's specialized library ought to be manageable. Right?

I was still discovering new parts of the library well into my second semester, if not my second year, of the program. It wasn't until my third year that I finally understood how the various elevators and stairwells correspond.

The elevators are the craziest part of the system. There are two of them, one with levels 3, 2, 1, and 0 (also known as B); one with levels A, B, C, D, and E. The one with four stops goes to all four floors; the one with five stops only goes to three of them. Level 1 is not the ground level, the level on which you enter the library. That's Level 2 (also known as level A). Level 0=B (as in basement) is not the same level as B (as in between A and C). If A = 2 and E = 0, B is about 1.5. C = 1, and D = 0, too. (It has to do with split levels and wheelchair accessibility.)

Now I navigate the labyrinth, down into the bowels where the open carrels sit, without a second thought -- until someone stops me in the stacks and asks how to escape from this place. I gave inadequate directions, but he seems to have gotten out anyway, because I didn't find him wandering lost in the maze later on my own way out. It wasn't until I was leaving the library myself that I noticed that the door to which I had directed him, through which one must pass in order to get to the exit, has a big old sign over it:


I should have told him to take the elevator.

Maybe the library is one big spacial reasoning/memory test. Maybe it's designed that way to weed out the faint of heart. Old graduate students never die -- they just get lost in the library and waste away among the books.


Sarah said...

I never ever use the elevators in that place.

They scare me.

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