Thursday, November 29, 2007


I had the most frustrating experience of my life today.

I have to write a research paper about a work of art that we have studied this past semester in Art History 201.

So I go to the library tonight to work on a Book of Mormon Paper when I check Blackboard and see that I have a rough draft due in Art History 201 tomorrow with a mandatory peer review! For those of you unfamiliar with the correlation between numbers and subject matter, 201 means "Ancient to 1500's" and believe me, there is a lot to cover. Needless to say I started freaking out. TOMORROW! I've never been a student that just blows things off until it's the night before it's due, but now I felt the pressure like I've never felt it before. My only consolation was that it was only a rough draft due and the final draft wasn't expected until the following Wednesday. Phew!

Back to the library. I soon start to decide what work of art I want to research. I eventually ended up narrowing it down to two and decided to pick the work that I thought would have the most information on it. At least the two I narrowed it down to were ones that I felt I had the most to say about them. Both were sculptures.

So I head to the reference desk, hoping that the little sign which reads "Need help jump-starting your research? Let the Humanities Reference Desk help you!" wouldn't let me down. A cute girl asked me how she could help and I asked her if they had any material on The Augustus of Prima Porta or The Tetrarchs. She answered, "Sure who are the artists?" "Uhh...they don't have artists? At least we don't know who they are. I can give you dates..." "How do we not know who the artists are?" "Um, they come out of the first century and we just don't really know?" So awkward. She obviously I was poorly equipped to start my research seeing as I didn't even know the basics. But I thought she was poorly equipped to be a reference desk helper. So I tried to further explain the assignment and what I was looking for. She lead me to a large set of encyclopedias on paintings. She explained that you can look them up by either artist or title of the painting "Okay" I thought, "Let's try this again..." They're sculptures. And the titles aren't definite. They are just names we call them. I don't think they're going to be in there? Sorry? Don't hate me for making you do your job?...I was scared of her. And we were both getting frustrated. "Alright, come back over to the computer" she said in a little huff. Sheesh!

Back at the desk she told me to pull up a stool behind the desk with her and she showed me how to search for things online. Well I could have done that. And the things she was searching for were so not going to find anything about what I was looking for. Had I explained things horribly? Or had she just really missed the mark? Whatever the case I ended up thanking her for her "help" and said that I'd figure it out. She wished me a very snide "Good luck" and I was back off to my table to mourn the early death of my research paper gone wrong. Actually, it didn't even have the chance to go wrong yet! It was like a stillborn in the paper world.

But I was set on doing one of the these. I decided that I'd just do the Augustus. There was NO WAY that the library didn't have information on this sculpture. I wanted to shake the reference desk girl when she said that and say "DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW WELL-KNOWN AND IMPORTANT THIS SCULPTURE IS?!?" But I kindly refrained.

I moved my stuff to the aisle with all of the art history reference books, took 10 - 20 books off the shelf, piled them on the floor next to me and started searching. What I was finding was scant, but I refused to believe that the dummy at the desk was right. So I got online, and tried searching that way. I had more luck with these. Then I searched for journals and articles written on it and looked that their bibliographies. Bingo! Almost every book they used the Library had. Jackpot!

Now the trick was navigating my way through thousands of books and trying to locate the one I needed. I was lead all over the library and explored the vast underground spaces like never before. I was led to the first floor, the bowels of the library, to some dark corner for the last book on my list about the Pax Romana. While running my finger along the spines and searching for the call number, I heard a giggle. And another, and another. It was completely incessant, and I was completely curious. I followed the sound until I found myself peeping through the shelves at this very preoccupied couple having a little make-out session. It was golden. The only thought going through my mind was that I had to get a picture for the girls as proof that I really saw this. (Sidenote: We made a pact just weeks before that we would make-out in the stacks before we graduate. The fact that I was witnessing one was just too ironic to not document). So I pull out my phone and begin to slowly reach my hand through the shelf to get a good enough picture. Then they saw me. I felt like an idiot but couldn't duck in time because my arm was stretched through the shelf so I just smiled and slowly recoiled my arm. They just giggled some more and flitted off to a more secluded spot. I followed them a little ways just to get a lame picture for reference, but it turned out blurry. Slightly disappointed but still excited to tell the girls about my encounter I surfaced from the underground floors and practically ran back up to our usual stakeout on the 5th.

I guess the library isn't SO bad after all. Only that reference desk girl...

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