X Marks the Spot | Newberry

X Marks the Spot

It may or may not be obvious when you stroll (at top speed) into our Book Palace just twelve or thirteen days from now, that we try to arrange things in rooms so they KIND OF go together. We can’t suit everyone’s notions of association, of course. No two people see book categories the same way. When the floor plan changed a dozen or so years ago, one loyal customer complained bitterly because Music was no longer in the same room as Humor.

But we do try to help out in that way, however little sense it may make to some customers. Some people read both mysteries AND science fiction, while others growl at the customers over in THAT section. Room 1 is a descendant of the old “Cheap and Easy Room” as one of my volunteers used to call it. Mystery, Science Fiction, Romance, Military Fiction, Graphic Novels…everything she would have called light reading is in there. This year we have shoved Large Print and Games in there as well, but it isn’t TOO much of a stretch to see how they go together.

Room 2, however, is another kind of grouping. This room has only three categories, and you can make connections through logic and reason if you like to, but the reason they’re there is because they FIT. Cooking, Art, and Collectibles each has over 200 boxes of goodies to be set out, so there just wasn’t room for anything else. Usually, we put Antiques in that room because it sits so well next to Art, and Chicago will be there because that makes it a room of High Interest Topics. I hope it still is, even with fewer topics.

Room 5—the Big Room—is meant to represent the Humanities. It’s where Literature sits close to Poetry and Drama. Books and Authors plays nice with this group. This is also where you’ll find History, as well as Military History, Civil War, and Biography. Religion, Philosophy, and Judaica can be found in close proximity, and so forth.

Room 3 leans more toward the sciences. Science, for example, is in there, close to Math. Sociology is here this year, too. It usually sits closer to History, but if you call it “Social Science”, then…it still doesn’t make much sense. But we had over 200 boxes of History, so something had to move out of Room 5. Nature sits near Gardening, as always. Travel faces Foreign Language. This is where Show Biz and Fashion sit next to each other, too, and Business waits near Computers. I have had people ask why Dance and Music have to be so completely divided from the CDs and LPs. Well, when we build the Book Fair Facility (currently on schedule for some time after our hundredth Book Fair, in 2084) we’ll have a room for that, probably with piped-in music (something else people are always asking for. There are people who could warn you what happens if I am allowed to program background music, but I try to make sure they don’t tell anyone when their keepers allow them contact with the outside world.)

Room 4 is a little like Room 2. We put the 200 boxes of Children in and then tried to figure out what else might fit. Chicago will be there this year, and Humor. I realize that there are going to be books with Adults Only themes involved, especially in Humor. (Records will be in there, too, but I didn’t see a lot of naughty songs by Rusty Warren or Belle Barth this year. Anyhow, most kids won’t know how to play ‘em, anyhow.) Last year, I watched with dismay as volunteers kept spreading things from the Games section into the Children’s area, hoping no grade schooler would pick up the game Spank the Yeti and ask Mom what some of those words meant. Again, come the day when we design a Book Fair Facility, we will have a separate room for Children, so nothing will break into their innocent enjoyment of thick angst-ridden novels of postapocalyptic starvation and despair.

So this is the theory behind our layout, and, I hope you noticed, one more opportunity for you to plan which way you’re going to charge when the doors open just about (gulp) twelve days from now.

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