Chapter 12: The Magic Section
Sunday, November 9
Dawn went to the library a few hours before she had to start work. Jerry had spent the night—again—and while he was a nice enough guy, neither he nor Naomi seemed to have any sense of modesty when he was around. They were still asleep in bed when Dawn left, and that was the way she wanted it. Besides, she needed the time for research; she had a major project to work on for her psychology class, and while it wasn’t a complex enough project that she was worried about finishing it on time, it did take some research.
Still, when she’d read and taken notes on two articles and a book chapter and felt very happy with her progress—the project wasn’t due until the end of the month, after all—there was half an hour still left before her shift started. Well, she knew what she wanted to do with that time, too. And, conveniently enough, it was in the same room in the library; psychology was the 150s, and magic was 134. Books on magic were just a couple of aisles down.
Oddly enough, it was a seldom-used section of the library. Not that any part of the library was as well-utilized as Dawn and the other library workers thought it should be, but the few times Dawn had directed people to it, they’d just been looking for the readings for Professor Lal’s or Professor Rook’s introduction to magic classes. Maybe the other classes were all practical, or the theory didn’t start until the second part of the semester. Then again, if there were no papers to write in the upper-level magic classes, maybe that would help her pick a major—she still hadn’t narrowed it down among magic, sociology, and psychology.
The aisle seemed dimmer than many of the others, and dustier, and certainly smelled more strongly of old books. Dawn recognized the readings from the classes immediately on entering it, and passed over them. True, she was looking for the basics, but she’d already read most of those, or at least their tables of contents.
She read titles, bent sideways with one hand on a shelf to balance herself, frowning. A few times, she brought a book out and read through the table of contents or skimmed the book itself. None of it was what she was looking for; nothing explained the theory of magic itself.
Despite being in the building, she was almost late for her shift. She ran down the stairs to the main desk so she could clock in. Emi, her ever-present student supervisor, raised her eyebrows when she saw Dawn. “You have dust on your nose.”
“Thanks.” Dawn rubbed it off with her sleeve. “Did I get it?”
“Yeah. Where have you been, the newspaper archives?”
Dawn shook her head. “Magic section. Somebody ought to dust that.”
“Well, don’t let me stop you. Did you find what you were looking for?”
“Not really. But I guess I wasn’t looking for anything in particular.”
“We’ve got a new box of books.” Emi kicked at a box under the desk. From the faded covers and cracked leather, “new” was relative. “Why don’t you dust first, then get to shelving these? There’s all kinds of stuff, but I know at least one of them is on magic.”
It wasn’t usually Dawn’s job to dust—usually she either shelved or stood the front desk to check people out and assist them with finding books and using computers—but at least she was motivated today. There were rags kept in the back room, along with special spray stuff that would wipe the dust off easily without harming the books. She did the magic section first, wiping all the books down thoroughly. When she was finished, she could actually read more of the titles than she had been able to before. Then she went through the other shelves in that room, the work stations, the computers, and the windowsills. Almost everything else was significantly less dusty from use.
Finally she got to the books. “New” was indeed relative; some of the books in the box were from the early twentieth century. She recognized a few as replacements for books they’d lost to mold, though, and a few more as books that were popular for some history class and that they’d wanted extra copies of. The magic book she shoved off to the side while she shelved the others.
When she had finished shelving all the books but that one, she took the box to the magic aisle and finally pulled out the heavy, red-bound book. The Practical Use of Magic: A Primer by Miranda Swick. Dawn raised her eyebrows. That sounded like exactly what she was looking for. Leaning against the shelf, she opened it carefully (the binding creaked) and began to read.