New Qs, Old Qs | Newberry

New Qs, Old Qs

Once again this year, I wrote down the things people asked me during the Greatest Book Show on Earth. I learned that, in spite of my blog on the subject, people were expecting a Graphic Novels section, and that some children who are too old to want to be called children (this starts at about the age of 7) wanted to browse in a Young Adult Section. And I found again that no one really knows where the restrooms are, or where Room 1 is, or where the price is. I do appreciate tradition.

Among the specific authors and books I was asked for this year were Out of Egypt (a new biography not to be confused with Anne Rice’s book subtitled Out of Egypt or Mrs. Sadat’s A Woman of Egypt), Jane Garden (probably mystery writer Jane Gardam, but the customer was adamant), Dick Tracy, Charlaine Harris, Alfred Wainwright (the man who asked denied being the customer who asked about Alfred Wainwright last year), Elizabeth Huddleston, Stephen King, Herman Melville, Dale Carnegie, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle (that customer wanted all three in one volume), the Legend of Zelda, George Weigel, Devil in the White City, Agatha Christie, Griffin and Sabine, and Chicago History magazine.

But there were seekers who had more specific wants, and I would like you to consider these people whenever you think Uncle Blogsy has an easy job.

“Would you buy The Joy of Cooking or The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American?” (This customer made it easier by going on “The Joy of Cooking, right?”)

“When will the bathrooms be cleaned?” (This was asked because, officially, our first floor restrooms are Closed For Cleaning until 4:01 P.M. on Preview Night. Way too many eager customers come in to hide out until opening so they don’t have to wait in line.)

“Is this the Main Lobby?” (They were trying to figure out where they were on the map.)

“Is there a table where I can sit with my pile of books and my laptop?” (Perhaps in your living room, Ma’am. This customer did walk around the Book Fair with her laptop lighting her face the whole way.)

“Can you get more light in here?” (Room 6, of course: on the overcast days the whole Biography/Books and Authors aisle was shrouded in shadow. For the 30th Book Fair I’m suggesting a sun roof, if somebody can just move the second through fifth floors for the weekend.)

“You built a wall!” (Not a question, but still one of my favorite moments.)

“I heard you bring out more stuff on Sunday. Where is it?” (Just look for the sign marked Stuff We Brought Out on Sunday, sir.)

“Are ALL the books half price?” (No, just the ones for sale.)

“Is this the back?” (I think she meant “Have I been through all the rooms now?”) “What’s vibrating under this room?” (I was tempted to say “That’s our special party room for donors of $10,000 or more”, but, in fact, Room 1 is directly over our boiler room. I sorted bookends in there the Monday after the Book Fair. Ever sorted six hundred rattling bookends? No wonder my hair can’t decide whether to turn white or fall out.)

People also stopped me to make a comment on the general set-up, the library’s excellencies, and life in general, but that’s something we can pick up on Friday. I need my sleep: I keep dreaming about those bouncing bookends.


I saw the woman with the laptop; how does anyone look for books for carrying a My wife and I had a great time this year and came home with many new treasures; especially liked finding a series of essays by the former head librarian at the Newberry

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