Tuesday, November 22, 2005

1815 Libraries are still amazing

And frustrating if you know as much as I do. Today I drove over to Ohio State's main library to look for a 1958 magazine. I think the last time I did this trip was May. All the neat tricks I'd learned about streets and parking between 1978 and 2000 are useless now. Roads are blocked off with chain link fences, and there are numerous traffic lights where we used to play dodge the students (ca. 50,000 on one campus). I usually don't bother God with small details I can handle myself, but realizing I probably wasn't dressed warmly enough for a hike from a campus parking garage, I prayed for a parking place! I have a hang tag that let's me park anywhere you can put a car, but it only works if no one else is parking there. Yes, I know God is busy right now with Katrina victims and your mother-in-law's cancer and your son's custody hearings, but there were three of them!

Inside what used to be a grand lobby but now is a computer room, I double checked the call number and groaned when I saw, AP2 is on Deck 11. My recollection of Deck 11 was dark, unsafe, and body fluids here and there. The elevators were the only thing I saw in Main Library that hadn't changed. The desk staff actually had coffee cups! Still two elevators, still too slow. But Deck 11 was a wonderful surprise. Light and airy, with pictures on the walls, display cases, and comfortable furniture.

I found Mademoiselle, AP2.M18 v. 46 and carried it to a comfortable chair. I looked everywhere for the picture I'd referred my mother to in April 1958, and it just wasn't there. But it was a blast looking through the volume, and just as I suspected and commented on in my sewing blog, the late fifties were harbingers of style and shape changes--blousy and bouffant that would become more popular after 1960. So I decided to look at some other titles to see what they showed about that era--I love researching by class number (reading the shelves rather than the catalog) because of the thrill of discovery. But when I went back into the stacks, I discovered that AP2.M is the class and cutter scheme for literary journals that start with "M." I looked all over the section and couldn't find another fashion magazine. Not exactly the thrill I had in mind.

Anyone else would have said, "Oh, well," and gone home, even if she suspected all the other fashion journals had gone to the storage facility on Kenny Road. But I couldn't drop it. I went to the basement and had a pleasant reunion with Magda who is now Head of Cataloging. "You haven't changed a bit," she told me, but she couldn't answer my question and took me across the hall to serial cataloging. The two women I conferred with were not librarians, but had worked many years in the serials cataloging department. Together we looked into an in-house program of the classification and cataloging tables--this doesn't show to the public. After trying several possibilities we discovered at AP2 was (or still is) the class number not only for literary journals, but for foreign journals. Mademoiselle was started in the mid-30s in New York, I think, but whether it was actually foreign, or it was the foreign word as a title, it went into the AP2 class. I checked Cincinnati, Akron and another large university in Ohio and they also used AP2. Each issue did have some fiction (James Baldwin had a short story in April 1958), but I don't think that would put it into the literary class.

So I learned something new about something old at the library, but didn't find my picture. Still, not a total loss of two hours of research.

Update: When I checked the holdings of the Library of Congress I see AP2 was for "general periodicals" even Time Magazine. So this is a class number in which a shelf browse wouldn't be much help. Most fashion magazines went to "Technology" class number. I'm guessing many of the titles around Mademoiselle had gone to storage, leaving only the literary journals.

Interesting site here: Mademoiselle Covers

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