Monday, July 31, 2017

The Nagging Question

Passing through the Library to see what goodies they were giving away this week I noted three sets of books waiting to be adopted. I get excited when I see sets. Especially free ones. Well, one set particularly grabbed my attention: "The History of Civilization" by Will and Ariel Durant (Simon and Schuster, 1954).

I've touched these books before and have always appreciated the comprehensiveness of these works. Ahhhhh, life before Google.

Ok, it's dated material. So what? Such a set has it's own kind of value to me. I'd love to have these books . . .

How many volumes make up the entire set? I picked up one volume, and found the list of titles by the author. Eleven Volumes in the set. So I counted: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 . . . 8? Missing three. Where could three volumes of a withdrawn set of books be?

Approaching the student working at the desk I inquired if said person knew the whereabouts of the missing volumes. The worker did not know, but (I was told) the set did sit in the Research Librarian's office for a while--maybe he'll know. While waiting for him to get off the phone, we searched the stacks to see if the three volumes were inadvertently left on the shelf. Nothing. Then the worker said what I was already thinking . . . and hoped that what I was thinking had not happened.

"We put these out yesterday. Maybe someone took the books." I swallowed hard. I tried not to say it. But it came out anyway.

"Who breaks up a set?"

I'm sure my voice was raised with incredulity. Maybe a little. The worker just looked at me. Who knows what thoughts just occurred there.

The Librarian finished the phone call then did some behind-the-scenes checking for me. Nothing.

"Maybe we never had the entire set in the Library." I was stunned, refusing to accept or believe what I just heard. Do libraries do that? Acquire and provide partial sets?

Maybe, just maybe, the three books are being used at another campus or checked out by students . . . they'll keep an eye out for me and will direct the volumes my way should they present.

Maybe they got lost.

The nagging questions haunts me: how was the set broken up? "Who breaks up a set?" I need medication.

In case you're wondering, I took the set as it remained. That way I can keep my eye on it. 

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