This is my first in situ blog post. That is, I am currently sitting inside the SSL, typing this on my laptop after a brief moment of panic when I forgot my internet password. This is one of the beauties of blogging about libraries. Your subject matter caters to your wireless needs.
As it’s the first Bodleian library other than the Law Bod I’ve ever studied inside, it is really refreshing to have a change of scene. The SSL on the inside feels much more like your standard university library to the student, the kind where you walk past rows of shelving, peering down their lengths, and spotting the odd person standing there gazing into a book. There are currently two students whispering sweet nothings into each others’ ears opposite the desk where I’m sitting. It’s all very nice and normal.
That said, the large size of the library and number of collections is very comforting, and you get the feeling you could find any book to do with anything about society in this place. After skimming around for a while, I took two books off the shelf and read a chapter out of each, and they happen to be Roosevelt and the Munich Crisis: A Study of Political Decision-Making by Barbara Rearden Farnham and Benjamin Wittes’ Detention and Denial: the Case for Candor after Guantánamo. And then there are the odd Bodleian quirks, like the fact that the place where I’m sitting is called the Douglas G. Smith Reading Room (despite the fact that it’s not a room because it only has three walls, so it can be more accurately described as a corner of the library), but it makes my desk sound very grandiose.
I think I’ll stay here to work for the rest of the day. It’s a great place in this city to find some sense of normality. Or, as Roosevelt would have put it, ‘normalcy’.