Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Tale of two references

Tale no. 1
"I'm the only guy with a library card at a girl's Catholic high school," he laughed. Seems he was searching for criticism about The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, and the only local library was a high school. So he went there and pled for mercy--no pun intended. Of course, we had material, but this student had done extensive searching and knew more about The Imitation than I ever cared to learn. Unfortunately, like most Early Christians, much of the criticism on The Imitation of Christ is in Latin. A little more looking in our library unearthed Schaff's History of the Christian Church which did have a little of what he was seeking, but as he said: "All the writers do is speculate on who wrote the work, and I'm not interested in that as any criticism about it."

Tale no. 2
"Do you think Cornell would have a review?" The question was unexpected. We had been searching for a scholarly book reviews of Gies Life in a Medieval Village as per the professor's assignment and with little success. Why Cornell? Well, she lived near there and was going to be home before the topic was due. I didn't post this because I knew where I should be able to locate reviews; I just didn't have the right years for the Humanities Index in our collection. In retrospect I probably could have asked someone on a list serv, but she didn't seem eager to wait too long. I suspect she will go to Cornell. As I trudged out of our bound volume collection with her, I was thinking "For want of a nail."

These two incidents happened on the same day, and they are indicative of how far students have come in their expectations for locating information and in their ability to obtain those "nails."

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