[Note: updated 06/12/22]
I am not allowed to talk about the people who were working at the library with me. I am supposed to keep any trace of them away until it's safe. This is no different until they find me on their own. So I will pretend some of the details. In exchange, I can build the story onto itself.
I was in training at a different library, during my MLS. There were two of us. Here, I'll call her Mellie. We worked with some of the more fragile materials in their archives: onionskin, salmon newsprint, lightweight scratch paper for impressions. We don't have to worry about humidity in the archives, but the paper can dry out. We keep it dry. We must.
She took breaks often. Cigarettes. She said they calmed her down. Not a great idea when we work in a building full of paper. But she knows as well as I do "we don't choose our vices".
I don't even remember which page we tore out of the signature. It was original. Just as thin as chiton but not nearly as strong. Maybe ten pounds on a good day. And we cracked and tore it.
So, of course, we learn our first hard lesson about preservation - you can't keep everything, but you have to try.
And then the second lesson - take your friends where you can get them.
You don't make friends faster than when you have to work outside. In summer. Preparing beeswax to re-bind an old manuscript. With a hive a hundred yards away and closing.
The slowest ten minutes I have ever lived. Horrible. Tedious. And I've never torn a binding since.
I wish for those days now. Anything would be better than this.
I completely forgot about this for a long time. Look too long and when you look up, the rest of the room shakes, too. You ever get the feeling that there is no good choice to make, but once you've made it it's still the wrong choice?
Not the first time I have been told my work isn't helping anyone.
Sorry. I have had a fever the past few days.
I don't sleep anymore. Which I guess is appropriate. I know where I am. Nothing is familiar to me. I see it so often I stop recognizing it. When it's dark, I see […]
The telling changes the memory.
If you see this, sorry about the choice of name. And thank you. You have made me so happy, more than you can know. Thank you. I'll keep everything shut.