Chapter 13: Dewey Decimal System
Corrie did as asked, and she, Edie, and Annie joined the group slowly following the teacher out of the room. "What do you think is going on?" she asked her friends in a soft voice.
Annie shook her head, looking amused. "Maybe we're going to a park to look at birds."
Edie grinned. "She does seem like that sort of person."
"She wants to be our friend, huh?" Corrie looked up at the back of Jasmine's silvery head as she led them out of the building. "I think either I'm going to love her or she'll drive me crazy."
"I hope she means what she says about the essay not being our best work," Edie said, nodding but looking concerned. "I don't know how good of an essay I can do in two days."
"Yeah, you'd think she would tell us about an assignment like that a bit earlier--we do all have school email," said Annie. They were marching (in a straggly, unsure sort of way) across campus in bright sunlight. The fog had all burned away and Corrie had to shade her eyes at the sun, not too far above the trees.
"Maybe it's practice for all the assignments we're going to procrastinate on," Corrie suggested. They all laughed. Jasmine seemed to have reached her destination: she was holding the front door to the library open, and gesturing for the students to precede her inside.
Corrie had never seen the library before. It didn't seem to match the other buildings on campus. It was tall--at least three stories--and looked wider at the top than at the bottom. The facade where the door was looked modern--glass surrounded by slate--but above that it was all faded wood, too weathered to even hold paint well. She wondered if it could have been built back when the school was first founded. It certainly looked old enough, and so did the trees surrounding it: a few massive oaks, towering over the building and shading its small windows. They didn't quite make a forest, but passing under their shadow still made Corrie shudder. Maybe they reminded her of Ever.
Once inside, the library was cool and modern, with thick carpet on the floor and cheery blue paint on the walls. They passed the circulation desk, Jasmine leading them further back. Eventually, they found themselves in a large room; there were circular tables surrounded by chairs in the middle and books all around. "Sit down, everyone," called Jasmine over the chatter. "We'll get started in a moment."
"I'll take over from here, Jasmine," said a male voice with a slight accent that Corrie couldn't place shortly after she, Edie, and Annie found seats at one of the tables. "Welcome, students. My name is Harry Knox and I'm one of the librarians. Now how many of you are familiar with the Dewey Decimal system?"
About half the students in the class raised their hands, most of them uncertainly. Mr. Knox smiled, though it was hard to tell under the bushy grey beard that covered his face. He was tall and angular, but the beard gave him a jolly, Santa Claus-ish look. "That's fine. First rule of using the library: don't try to put the books back yourself. Let the students who work here do that." He indicated an empty cart. "Just put them on the cart or the table. Getting the books mixed up is a problem for everyone. But you do need to be generally familiar with the Dewey Decimal system to be able to use the library."
He picked up a book, pointing at its spine. "Every book has a call number. This is pretty straightforward; each room in the library holds a range of numbers, and books are in numerical order. As long as you find the right room and the right aisle, you'll find your book if it's on the shelf. Of course, reference books are all in their own room--that's this one. Any book that can't be removed from the library is in here."
It sounded very straightforward. Corrie felt her mind wandering to the lovely, if warm, day outside. Mr. Knox continued speaking. "You can find a book's call number either by asking someone who works here or by looking it up on the computer. There's a map on every floor by the stairs, so you can find where the room you need is. You probably don't need to be told this, but I will anyway because it's the rules: never tear, write in, or harm a book in any way. We all share a library, and making the books unreadable is a problem for everyone. Also, it makes your tuition go up." Several people groaned good-naturedly at that.
He walked over to a computer that was hooked up to a projector and flicked the projector on. The blank wall they were facing now displayed a search interface. "This is the site you'll use to find scholarly articles," Mr. Knox explained. "You won't always want to use books; the right articles can be even more effective, and easier, as most of them are available online. The site will show you those as well as articles the library owns." He took them through an example search, showing them how to narrow or broaden their searches as needed, and how to get the actual article once they'd found what they needed. "Jasmine, of course, will be teaching you how to use research effectively and cite things correctly. But now you know how to find what you need."
Jasmine returned to the front of the class as he flicked off the projector. "How about a round of applause for Mr. Knox?" The class dutifully clapped, though Corrie didn't think anyone else felt any more enthusiastic about it than she did. Mr. Knox seemed embarrassed, in fact. "All right, that's all for today, class," Jasmine said. "I'll see you all on Thursday."
The class couldn't get out of there fast enough.