Read Me: "Still Life in Books"

A serial about working in a public library...

*Part the Second: A Poor Standard of Classification*



The door to the public space opened and Chuck the Counter Jockey stuck his
head inside.
"Has anyone seen a baseball cap left here recently?"
"I'll field this one," Sheila said to me. She got up and went outside, taking the cap from the book chute with her.
Outside Chuck indicated an anxious-looking, bespectacled woman who stood nearby. As soon as the woman saw the cap in Sheila's hand she sighed with visible relief.
"Thank you ever so much," she said to Sheila as the item was handed over.
"Where did you find it?"
"In the non-fiction shelves under 646," the Shelving Fairy joked. The woman smiled gratefully and thanked Sheila again, not having seen the amusing side of Sheila's comment.
As the woman left, Sheila felt a gentle tap on her shoulder. She turned to find the tall, dark and handsome form of Terence the Reference Librarian standing behind her, impeccable as ever in his Armani suit. How did afford *that* on a librarian's salary?
"I heard what you said to that client, Sheila," Terence said sternly. "You shouldn't make jokes like that in front of clients."
"I'm sorry, Terry, but I didn't think it would do any harm."
"It doesn't," the Reference librarian smiled, "but she obviously didn't get it. The first rule of library humour is to have another librarian around to appreciate it, especially if it involves making fun of customers to their faces without their knowing it. By the way, I don't agree that a baseball cap would be catalogued in the 646s. That's in the context of 'Technology'. I think a more appropriate number would be the 746s."
" 'Textile arts' in 'Arts and Entertainment'? I can see how you'd think that, but you don't know the circumstances under which the cap was found, which was the book chute, so reference to technology is quite appropriate in this case."
"The technology of the book chute?" Terence asked doubtfully. "A rather tenuous connection..."
"Will you guys please not start an argument in front of my customers?" Chuck interrupted. "I get enough of *those* from the customers themselves as it is. Go ask Kate to settle it, or something."
Kate the Cataloguer was busy in the workroom.
"Kate, what classification number would you give to a baseball cap?" Terence asked.
"What context is it in?" she asked in reply, not in the least bit surprised that she was being asked such a question.
"It came down the book chutes," said Sheila.
"How on Earth did it get there? Never mind." She thought for a moment. "I'd put it in the 391s under 'costume and personal appearance'. It's only a piece of clothing, after all."

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