Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Alley Archivist



The purpose of a library is to circulate items over and over again. This morning I witnessed this ideology being put to the ultimate test.

While enjoying my morning caramel macchiato, and chatting on the phone with my Mom, I noticed a set of legs sticking out of the dumpster behind my house.

Egged on by my Mom to find out more, I went out my back porch to get a closer look at what I was seeing.

There was a 30-something woman in this 20 degree weather, without a coat on, diving into the dumpster. When I say diving, I literally mean she could have been pearl fishing, minus the snorkel. She was retrieving an amazing amount of stuff from within the garbage. From a future librarian's perspective she seemed quite prepared.

She had several brown paper bags with handles waiting to hold her treasures. In the mean while, she was learning something about all the neighbors, and their obviously disposable incomes. She retrieved a mini-TV set, a kitchen phone, several yards of what appeared to be cable, an old window screen, a soiled, but well upholstered dining room chair, and a stereo speaker. The stereo speaker was acting as her step stool- despite the fact that she had found a chair during another one of her dives. Resourceful, and pro-active. Good librarian skills, eh?

Do you suppose, dear reader, that she is setting up a museum to commemorate her excursion down my alley? OR is she looking to furnish an apartment in a 'rustic' way? At any rate, I was relieved to tell my mother that we shred all of our bills before we put them in the trash. I felt kind of bad that last night I had changed the cat litter, and thrown away a chicken carcass. I suppose this made her adventure even more rewarding, having to work so hard to retrieve the items.

At any rate, I hope that she was enjoying herself this morning in this crisp weather, sans her jacket. She seemed to be having a good time. I've actually seen people looking quite similar at the Marshall Fields Whites sale on State Street in Chicago. They always seem pleased walking away with their bags of goodies. I only hope she perhaps found a bottle of perfume in her adventures in excavation. She's going to smell mighty ripe.

Which reminds me of one of our latest patrons. She comes to the library with tons of receipts, and she smells like she might have been "shopping" too. She lays all the receipts out on the desk to dry, and then sits there while they do. I have no idea what she is doing, but she really does seem to have an agenda. Perhaps that is drying on the desk too, but I can't get close enough in fear of being over taken by her putrid smell. Maybe she has that chicken carcass I threw out tied to the inside of her jacket. At least that would explain the smell.

My best wishes to both of them in their endevours.

Moral of this blog: Retrieving items from the bowels of an archive can smell like you actually retrieved them from the bowels of an archive.

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