My office is closed to tours

FSU main library

To look at this place (my office), nobody would ever guess that I worked my way through college as a student assistant, and then a graduate assistant, in the Florida State University and Syracuse University libraries. In those days, I knew all about the Dewey Decimal System, the Library of Congress System, vertical files, special collections and papers, and (of course) how to collect fines. Whenever a professor assigned a research paper, I always knew where to find stuff.

Today, however, whenever my muse assigns a new novel, I don’t know where to find anything. In the first place, stuff was never organized when it was created. After various hard drive crashes, moves to new houses, changes in software, etc., notes, books, papers, general ephemera, lists of sources, and so-called work products became widely scattered, often labeled simply as “stuff.”


Tour busses used to bring 1000000 people a year to my house for a personal tour of my den because somehow my house got listed in the “places to go” section of the online guide about the city where I lived. People came inside, after paying their $10 entry fee and asked where things were. I said, “right here,” but then they pressed for more information and all I could do was shrug. Nobody thought a shrug was worth $10, especially when one could go to the local brothel and get a whole lot more for a whole lot less.

So, the Better Business Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce told me to find my stuff or cancel the tours.  I told them that my office tours were an example of chaos theory in action. They didn’t buy it. But let’s face it, organizing my stuff was just too much trouble. It would have caused my PTSD even though the tours were more profitable than my novels.

Case in point: In my last post, when I wrote about the Monticello, Florida opera house, I wanted to include information from Cathy L. Berlow’s 1981 thesis from the University of Florida about the 1890 building. But, where was my copy? Even the cats didn’t know. And, if they didn’t know, nobody knew. So, the post was less informative than I planned.

I used to get frustrated with this sort of thing. Now I just shrug.


Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing


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4 thoughts on “My office is closed to tours

  1. Dear Malcolm, I get it. Life was so much better when I didn’t have to computerize it. I have a vast book collection that people kept telling me to “downsize”. I started to do that, then needed to look up something from the discards. No more. Whither I goest, so go the books. It sounds like the BBB and Chamber in your town had a very limited perspective, and no sense of humor at all. Terrifying. Keep on keeping on.

  2. :-))

    Me too. Whither + paper books. And my hard drive is definitely in better shape than yours ;-).

    My fiction selection is filed neatly in alpha author order. But how to deal with the Books About Stuff? Currently they are loosely grouped by the projects they might be useful for. But that does require a rewind of thought processes (sometimes by more than 20 years) to the reason I first acquired the book I need *right now*.

    But it is a good problem. A problem I am happy to have. And don’t suggest the Dewey system for the fact books. I have (sorry Mr Ex-Librarian) better things to do with the years I have left.

    1. Needless to say, I don’t catalogue my books with the Dewey Decimal System In fact, I don’t catalogue them at all. They do on the shelf wherever they fit, and that includes putting some books behind others. Nice to hear your books are arranged neatly.

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