“If it were not for the library secession…”

This is the third of the three Horrors discovered this week in an old gradebook while I was rummaging around for those elusive bits of paper so vital to the Income Tax Rite of Spring.

My student made no mistakes except for the extra two letters in the eighth word of the sentence. Just a typo: I imagine she typed a “ce,” then realized her error and went back to replace it with an “se” but got an insertion rather than a replacement. Happens. But a rather wonderful little scenario emerges from those interpolated letters.

Here’s what she wrote:

“If it were not for the library secession at the beginning of the semester I would not have known how to find information in the databases.”

Can’t you just see the library (books walking on tiny legs, pages aflutter? borrowable laptops on skates? librarians determinedly waving the flag of their new independence? perhaps the building itself, humping along? —the architect gave it no wings, alas…) marching off to a place of its own? Did the university threaten to fight to keep it, or simply let it go? What does the new flag look like? And will students be permitted to continue to use the library, as long as they have valid passports and visas?

Anyway, the secession has occurred, evidently, and my student is grateful for it!

What is she most thankful for? Well, had the library stayed around, finding information would have been more difficult. Or at least, finding information in the databases would have been more difficult. Was the library erected on a foundation of databases, then, a basement of databases, pillars of databases, a slab of databases? The base of the library thus resting squarely on data(bases), how could my student have seen them? But now that the library’s separation from the university has been accomplished, it must have moved off its database base, and so now students can SEE the databases! and find information in them! Databases, the library’s buried treasure, as it were, finally revealed and accessible!

Every semester we take our first-year writing students to the library for a session of instruction on using the library’s resources for research. But if instead of a session the library decided on seCEssion, maybe instruction would be unnecessary, and students would take the initiative themselves to explore the facilities available to them. Like the Olden Days. When their professors learned to use the library. Hmmm.

I think I’ll walk down the hill to the library and see if I can stir up a little trouble!

p.s. I can tell the true story of an actual secession of part of a university from the rest of it, but that’s not exactly the purpose of this blog…


About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

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