Here's a confession: whenever I go out with any of the people I used to work with at DIT (hereafter known as 'the librarians'. Cos that's what they are), we play a particularly strange and embarrassing game. We all pretend to be really chilled about it but adherence to the rules is extremely important and something of a matter of pride. Okay. Deep breath: we play 'Dewey-Decimal Guess-Who'.
I may have to explain this. As you might know, Dewey Decimal book coding is an international bibliographic standard for the archiving and arrangement of non-fiction books and journals. Also known as the little numbers taped to the spine of your book. It goes all the way up to 1000 and each one-hundred band is assigned to a general subject. In academic libraries because subject matter is so derivative and expansive numbers can run to huge decimal points. So knowing them off, especially the more obscure shelf marks, is a sign of greatness amongst us nerds. You get me? It's a type of sexual preening in a way. Whole courtships have been based on Dewey testing. Sad but true.
So anyway, I was down in Tramore library earlier today, picking up some books on Irish folklore for Mags who has to do a project on teaching children myths or some such crap. Well, Mum was doing it; I was faffing about picking up books and trying to hide them up my jumper.
"Put that Jonathan Strange down, Lucy. And don't think I don't know you took that On Beauty off the hold shelf. Mind you put it right back there, you wretch," warned my Mamma. You see, I have a bit of a history with nicking books from the library, keeping them out for months and losing them. I am proud to say that my overdue fines are the highest in Waterford county: over €200 at last check. Yes, I am a legend. Your admiration is deserved.
"They should be over here," she went on, slipping on her librarian secret disguise, reading glasses on a chain, and sliding tutored fingers over book spines, "somewhere around 398".
"Yeah, right." I wasn't really paying attention. "What's there then?"
Sighing, she turned her attention back to the stacks: A daughter who doesn't know her Dewey Decimal inside out is a sad disappointment to a librarian. "Folklore," she said, "legends".
"Ahem? Shouldn't I be up there, then?"
She did not appreciate this humour. I may be cut out of the will.