Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Difficulty of Working in a Library

I am sure you are wondering - "What could be so difficult about working in a library?"

First let me assure you, we do not have time to read books in between checking books out to patrons and checking them back in again. At least, not at the busy libraries where I have worked (this includes the one I work in now). We are lucky to get all the extra jobs done that keep the library humming as efficiently as it does!

The difficulty to which I refer is the one inferred by the oft quoted statement -
"So many books, so little time".

Daily, hourly, I see books coming and going that I would dearly love to read or at least look through. I have tried making a list of them, but that is all it remains - a list. Possibly a list of books to read when I retire? Unfortunately, retirement is not in my near future so seeing all these wonderful, intriguing books go by is akin to turning a child loose in a candy shop with only a quarter to spend. (Yes, I know candy costs more than two bits but that is the point!)

Recently, a book came in to fulfill a request for a patron that I had to take the time to look at. As soon as I opened its cover and glanced through a couple pages, I knew I had to request a copy for myself - a copy I could check out and take home to look through and read more closely. So I did. And another copy arrived within a couple days (oh, the wonderful efficiency of the Berks County Public Library System!).

The book?
"fragments: poems, intimate notes, letters by Marilyn Monroe"  

This is a collection of her own notes and writings - diligently reproduced photographically. The left pages are the photographs of her writing (sometimes very hard to read) and the opposing pages have the editors' ideas of what she wrote, typed out, including all the arrows and cross-outs indicated. The editors noted they tried to put an order to her writings in their typed out pages but sometimes it was not clear what she was trying to say. Some of the poems she wrote had sections crossed out or arrows showing she wanted the order of sections changed or that she was unsatisfied with the words she had chosen. It was obvious she was not finished with many of her writings either, some were just half-formed thoughts and ideas.

One "poem" in particular was transcribed by the editors in a way that I don't believe she meant. I have worked on it, reading and re-reading it. Writing it out and moving the phrases around - trying to see what her arrows may have meant. I think I got it figured out a little better than the editors but it is hard to say. I don't really think Marilyn was really finished with it. In any case, I will post my own transcription of her scribbles and let you decide on the coherency of her poem. Of course, you will have to borrow or buy the book to compare my transcription with that of the editors of the book.

Marilyn Monroe was an amazing, deep, intelligent, sensitive as well as sensual woman. Of course she was troubled. Her life was full of turmoil. Her childhood was filled with things a child should not have to deal with. She had to grow up WAY too quickly, but she was very quick to learn important lessons and was able to understand herself and her actions and reactions very well.

I will leave you with one of her statements, an admonishment to herself, but one we should all take to heart:
"There is nothing to hold on to - but reality
to realize the present, whatever it may be - 
because that's how it is 
and it's much better to know reality
(or things as they are)
than not to know.
To have as few illusions as possible."

1 comment:

  1. I requested and indeed received this book as a Christmas present. There is so much in it to ponder, to play with, to enjoy that I knew just borrowing the book from the library for 3 short weeks would not be enough. I am so thrilled to own it! Thanks, Dennis.