Shelves of treasure

By Josh Albrecht

A lot of things puzzle me in this world, but sometimes nothing confuses me more than Founders Memorial Library.

I have no qualms with our beloved library, in fact, I think it houses more information than I could ever use. But the more I try to understand how the place works, the more difficult it becomes.

In the past, understanding the inner workings of a library was easy.

Ever since third grade, when I had an extensive nine-week, 20-minute-a-day course on how a library works, finding books, periodicals and the like has been a cake walk.

But then I came to NIU.

My first big research paper came, and I was forced to find 12 sources so that I could write at least 10 pages of drivel.

The paper started out as a time-honored piece about the impact of nature on our contemporary world.

However, because I had no idea how to find the books I needed, my paper quickly became a 10-paged beauty on architecture.

“Why architecture?” one might ask.

Because the only books I could find were on architecture. Not only that, there were more than 100 books directly pertaining to architecture.

I bet the Hardy Boys couldn’t top that.

But recently I have become more accustomed as to how to find books in the library, and I like to think that I have learned a few tricks along the way.

Sure, I didn’t learn that the term “main stacks” referred to the general book storage area until last year, but believe me, the main stacks are the general book storage area located mainly where the books are stacked.

And if microfilms are your cup of tea, or for that matter, movies (that’s right, you can watch movies at the library, but remember, no food or drink allowed), then head right on up to the third floor.

Now, the third floor is what I like to call the floor of fun. The reason why it is the floor of fun is because about 80 percent of the research that I have done has occurred on the third floor.

Plus, that’s the lucky floor with the computer lab.

As far as the fourth floor, I have only been there about two times, and I think it contains more books and possibly a small museum, but don’t quote me on that.

The second floor, I do believe, also contains books, and I once photocopied some stuff that was on reserve for one of my classes on that floor. I realized later that there are a good baker’s dozen of copy machines on the first floor.

The first floor is also a fun floor because it has such highly sought-after items like encyclopedias (I recommend World Book Encyclopedia. Sure, even my fifth grade teacher wouldn’t let me use it for research, but the thing reads beautifully. I don’t know why it has received such a bad rap, but let me tell you, it rules), journal articles and a vast bank of computers.

But most importantly, the first floor is where a majority of the library workers sit and talk to other library workers and make fun of me when I forget the name of my teacher, thus not allowing me to check out a reserve.

At first, I was hesitant to break up their conversations and ask them questions about where certain items, like books on architecture, are located But one day I decided that I had done my own work long enough and I asked.

As it turns out, the library workers know how to work the library and will tell you the exact floor and general area where a book is located & usually.

Yet, a few good things have come from my mindless wanderings through the library.

I once saw an actual moon rock, and I always find a hidden piece of art on one of the walls. And there was another time when I found a PAWS copy card on the floor.

However, the true inner workings of the library remain enigmatic to me. After all, I have no idea if there is anything in the basement, if they have magazines or newspapers and if all the stories that the security guards have told me are true.

I hope, though, that I am able to become proficient in the ways of the library before it’s too late; maybe there is a pamphlet that explains how to work the library and where everything is located.

Then, I finally could appreciate everything it has to offer (like its 1.6 million circulating volumes, 1.2 million governmental publications, 3.2 million microfilms, maps, recordings and audiovisual materials and the Illinet Online System) and be able to utilize it the way that I should.

Otherwise, I am doomed to a life in the main stacks.

At least the carpeting is nice.