May. 30th, 2010

bloodyrosemccoy: (Librarians)
I am becoming known at Job as the aide who is really good at catching small errors. At least once a week I will find something like a book on CD with a mismatched bar code and jacket, or a book that belongs at another branch sitting on our shelves, a book on how to speak Spanish in the books-in-Spanish section,* or—most often—some error in the call number.

I’m not sure if this is good or bad, since you have to send the books in to our tech services to get them re-labeled when I find them.

“How the hell do you spot these things?” my coworker asked today, after I’d brought him another book with the wrong call number.

“It’s the colors,” I said without thinking.

“The what?”

Oh, dear. “Uh,” I said, “Synesthesia. I see the letters and numbers as colors. Like, this one with the wrong name—it was misshelved in the first place. It was in the M’s, which are white, and this call number has a C, which is scarlet, so it really stood out, and then the author’s name on the book starts with an E, and that’s green—definitely not a C.”

He stared at me for a minute, eyebrow raised. “So you see this row of white books, and if one is red …”

“It’s in the wrong spot.” I thought about it. “And I don’t have to be reading it consciously. The color is there even if I’m not focused on it, so I can see it out of the corner of my eye.”***

He considered this for a moment. “… Huh,” he finally said.

And then what I’d just said hit me fully in the face. “Oh, god,” I said, “do you know what this means?”

He raised an eyebrow.

“It means that nitpicking is my actual, honest-to-god mutant power!”

“Just don’t use it for evil,” he said.

“Too late. I’m already filling out the form for Tech Services.”

So now I’m the Mutant Error-Spotter with this crowd. I just hope they don’t blow my identity to the tech folks. If I’m not back in the next few days, assume a secret cabal of angry cataloguers got me.


*This seems to be a complete mystery to all the other librarians. I’ll find Spanish for Dummies sitting amongst books like La Cocina Mexicana and Cómo seducir a las mujeres.** I always assume that the books that are written in English that tell you about Spanish go in the English section. If it’s in the Spanish section, we’re going to assume that you already know Spanish.

**Yes, really. It’s a terribly battered book, and it gets pulled off the shelf all the time.

***It was cool to realize this, because I am Not Making This Up. You still process letters and numbers even if you aren’t actively “reading” them, or even looking straight at them. They proved this! Using science!

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