31 January 2007

Pandora's Stacks

"Others were busy in the lab, but who really cares what is in the stacks?" - Hugh Nibley

Okay, as if I don't have enough crazy projects to embark on this year, I just read pretty much the best thing ever in Hugh Nibley's An Intellectual Autobiography:

Berkeley was more of the same, with one difference--they had a library. I decided to put it all together in the stacks beginning at the southwest corner of the ninth level and working down to the northeast corner of the first level, book by book, stopping whenever something significant caught my eye. It took four years . . . .
I get chills just thinking about it: canvasing an entire library for fun. Is it possible? Well, BYU's library is a lot smaller than Berkeley's, it just might be. (Then again, Nibley did this in the 1930's. I wonder if there's a way to determine the size of the collections at that point. Hmm. I may have to fire off an email about that. But to who? Hmm.) And regardless of actual building size, five floors sounds much less intimidating than nine floors. I definitely don't have four years left here (then again maybe I do; you just never know).

I think I just might be crazy enough to try it. It just sounds so right: walking through the stacks, reading every title, pulling one out occasionally to peruse . . . . I'm resisting the urge to set up some complicated rules regarding how to go about making this managable--must read every title, can only check out one book per session, maximum of ten minutes for any book pulled off the shelves (stop! Stop!). As much as I like arbitrary rules, I think that would kind of ruin the purpose. On the other hand, arbitrary rules help us get things done.

Anyone else interested in the Nibley challenge? Think of it as NaNoWriMo for your inner reader. If we got enough of us together, maybe we could start a club.

Or a support group.

4 comments:

Ben Crowder said...

One word:

~drool~

:) (And I suspect you already knew what my reaction would be.) I'm all for it. This is delicious. Mmm. Yes, mmm.

Not Too Pensive said...

It's not just me...

This is why I'm loving my capstone class so much this semester. There are recommended readings, to be sure, but mostly it's self-guided - study what you want, then write on it.

I've got step 1 down... I've plowed through a few books already on my subject. Step 2... that whole writing bit... yeah, not so much.

I tend to do this online as well. Just go to wikipedia and hit "random" a few times, wait for something interesting to pop up, read article, read all articles referenced in that article, keep following links, realize it's 2 AM... read just one more...

Must... stop...

The Girl in the Other Room said...

... Liz? Do you remember quite clearly what happened with NaNoWriMo? It failed. I will not be subject to another fruitless quest. I am not from La Mancha and I happen to love windmills. Good luck anyway though.

Liz Muir said...

. . . but it's an adventure! :D