Well, I have seen the future, and it doesn’t look so awful, after all. I’m referring to the Book Fair, of course. The rest of you will have to get along somehow.
Last night, the Newberry had an “Opening Our Doors” reception: good food, a glass of wine, and a tour behind the scenes of construction. The food was good, and there was a modest selection of soft drinks for those who weren’t indulging even AFTER Lent (and for those of us who had a glass of diet caffeine because, hey, the wine is for the grown-ups in the audience.) But I basically went for the tour.
Part of me was impressed by the newly revealed ceilings and nineteenth century door frames, and part of me was impressed at how much of the twentieth century they’ve stripped away. But most of me was thinking, “Yeah, there’s plenty of room here to have a Book Fair.”
First of all, we were assured that every week, the Powers What Are asked the contractors, “Are we on time?”
And every week the contractors have replied, “We’re on time; we’re on time”. The only thing that WON’T be quite ready is something the City of Chicago added to the plans at the last minute, and that won’t affect Book Fair customers. You won’t even notice as you walk by it. (For good reason: it won’t be there yet for you to notice.)
But the way we’ve got this thing sketched out, it should work like this. Come that grand day when you arrive to do your Book Fair shopping (the price to get into the Preview is still just a meager Associates’ membership: a hundred bucks for most of us and half that for those born during the Clinton Administration and after.) you will walk up the stairs in front, as usual. Perhaps you will pause to marvel at the graphic enhancement of the entryway, or ride up in the elevator for the differently-mobile. Or perhaps you will be like ninety-nine percent of our customers and just come charging in to scrabble for books. There will be days to admire architecture later.
At the top of the stairs, though, you must pause in wonder. We’re not really expecting a lot of “Wow, look at all the state of the art improvements!” We’re waiting to hear wails of “Where’s my paperback mystery section?”
Here’s what you do. Room 6, the big room, is not changing. It will be in the same place, will have much the same subjects in it, and will even be numbered Room 6 (even there are only five rooms this year.) So if you seek History, Religion, Reference, Biography, or the CD section, you need only turn right as you come up the stairs and go seek treasures where you’ve sought them before.
All the other rooms this year will be to the left of the stairs. If you turn left and then make another sharp left, you will be in the room which used to have lockers in it. Here you will now find Children’s books, Music, Dance, and LPs: kind of like the old Room 5, only now it will be Room 4.
If, after taking that first left, you move straight ahead, you find your way to Room 3. This is where we plan to put a lot of the subjects from the old Room 1 (no one said this was going to be easy: stay awake). Archaeology, Anthropology, Foreign Language, and African-American Studies will be there, along with a migrating subjects from the old Room 2: Games, Humor, and Nature.
There will be a couple of ways out of Room 3, but I’m not perfectly clear where these will be. But you can find your way farther west and find two more big rooms. The one on your left will be Room 2, with Mystery, Science Fiction, Romance, and such (the old Room 4); the one on the right will be Room 1, which will take over from the old Room 3, with Art, Chicago, Cooking, and Collectibles.
So it’s easy: 6 is 6, 4 is 5, 3 is 1 and 2, and 2 is 4. What could be simpler? As for Room 5, well, we had to find someplace to put the people who complain about prices. Stay out of there.