In the category of “best unexpected surprises ever” and also “why academics should blog”.
I posted my syllabi this fall on this blog. In one new course in particular, I’m using a bunch of new texts that I knew were mostly in the three-college catalog that we hold jointly with Bryn Mawr and Haverford. But I knew they were almost all held at the other two campuses.
This is not a really big deal. The libraries at the three campuses have made moving books around as convenient and hassle-free as possible. Still, it does mean that I can’t browse those books casually, that I have to one-by-one order them to come down here so I can make a scan of the short selections of material that I’m assigning from each. It means that there’s a one day delay, which isn’t so great if you’re like me and sometimes trying to prepare for teaching in a foresight-challenged manner. Even though I’m only giving students a small selection out of many of these books, I want to be able to look at the whole book myself while preparing for class.
It makes a practical difference in my ability to work well and smoothly to have a book I’m going to use heavily held here at Swarthmore. Once upon a time, the faculty here did most of the collection development, but for various reasons, they’re doing less of it than they used to. So what we get is sometimes less driven by particular planned usages in classrooms and research as a result. Our librarians have always been very obliging about ordering anything we want, but they’re not psychic.
Or are they???
Because here’s what our librarians did this December. Rather than waiting for me to get off my ass and actually order the books that I’m teaching from for our Swarthmore collection, they pulled off all the titles from my syllabi as posted to my blog and ordered them for me. Without me having to ask or beg. Just because it seemed like a good idea and a good way to help out. It’s like they knew that I would be sitting around grumbling in February, cursing my own inefficiency, festering in the stew of my own procrastination, mumbling about our monograph collection and my part in failing to develop it.
Isn’t that a one-hundred pound bag of pure awesome?