ASSOCIATES (2004, July, v. 11, no. 1) -

Rainbow's End

Chapter 5


Tinker Massey

Mr. Crumly was always helpful to us. We could count on him to scavenge monies from the deepest pockets of the Engineering College, or gifts of books from the strangest sources. He always seemed to be full of energy and walked everywhere in the city and on campus. I think he actually gave up driving a car because he knew he had a drinking problem. He was like a clock, though. Every Thursday evening, he would venture to a friend’s house for chess. Friday morning was a mixture of interesting emotions from him. Sometimes there would be gaiety and life abundant, and other days he murmured and pondered the previous chess moves that lost him the match. He and Dr. T. were the best of friends and great competitors.

Early one Friday morning, Mr. Crumly came into my office and asked if I would be interested in setting up a new Physics Reading Room in Williamson Hall next door. He explained how they needed to have some materials available for the students and faculty and had built a new wing on the building, including a lovely reading room. I nearly jumped out of my chair. My Dad worked in that building and I would get to see him from time to time. What a great idea! I took the chance and started on Monday. At 8 AM, I was allowed to see the room and get an idea of what they already had. Wow! They had a small closet full of books accumulated from the editing of the faculty. Mostly, they were freshman physics textbooks with lots of practice problems. I would have to catalog them in some fashion to fit in with our other books. Mr. Crumly had promised the Physics Department support from Engineering, by having me move the physics materials into the reading room. Engineering could certainly use the extra shelves to house the new materials they were anticipating. This would be a great way to give everyone what they wanted. I approached my Dad about the possibility of using those texts in a bibliography for his freshman students, so that they could come into the Library and get some extra help. He agreed it would be helpful, so I talked with the Physics Department head and told him what I wanted to do for the texts, the movement of physics materials from Engineering and the possibility of donations of physics periodicals from the faculty in swap for us binding them. He was astounded that our planning was going so smoothly and told me to proceed with the plans.

Everyday, I would load up old solid oak four wheeled, three foot long, flat shelved book trucks of materials and head down the fourth floor elevator to the back of the building. I was literally dragged down the ramp by the truckload and then faced an ugly hill. The technique was to get the truck at an optimum speed going downhill, so the push uphill was less exhausting. Many days I almost lost control of the trucks, but one thought kept me going. I could read the obituary in the paper that said, "Young woman run over by a truckload of books as she tried to push them up a hill." I could not let that truck get me! It would be an embarrassment to lose that truck. Who did he think he was anyway? I was able to handle that hill from then to the day we finished. The street between the buildings was not much better, and the unevenness was rattling my head. You must also understand that the move occurred during July and August, our hottest months in Florida. The sweat poured down my cheeks and back. Well, they did let me wear shorts for that task, so things were better than they could have been. When I got to the back door of the Physics building, there were steps…oh, perhaps six, but they were there as a reminder of the reality of the situation. I found a piece of plywood sheeting and ran them to the next plateau, through the double glass doors and then I had to move the sheeting so I could go up the next six stairs to the freight elevator. This elevator had a pull strap so you could open the bivalve heavy steel doors. Once inside, the light was almost so dim that you had trouble seeing the selection panel. I found the right button and pushed. Nothing happened. I pushed again. Nothing happened. I pushed again. Silence reigned. I opened the doors and asked a young assistant if there was some magic trick to getting this thing to move. He laughed and got in the elevator with me. He shoved his key in the slot and turned it to the right, then pushed the button. It moved with a jerk and a myriad of noises, which sounded like the depths of an Amazon jungle in full spirit. I was amazed and he was delighted. He helped me push the trucks into the hallway and around the corner to the new facility. I made it! He could see my relief and laughed again as I began to wipe the dust from the books and put them on the shelves. We waved at each other and I yelled some words of thanks. I was on my way to having a library of my own management. It was like a dream.

The shelves filled more quickly than I imagined and soon the job was done. Well, it was just beginning too. I had to make a catalog for these materials. I decided on a card catalog, remember we were still in the late 60’s. The main library on campus didn’t even get its first computer and modem until 1974. The catalog would be used for a number of years. I typed cards for author (white), subjects (pink) and series (blue), while keeping a white institutional shelflist for myself in the office. The guys were enjoying their very own library. By the fall semester, we were fully operational, with catalog completed, and bibliographies for special freshman courses. Each day the Reading Room opened its doors to more and more people. Each night, unbeknownst to me, faculty and graduate students used their keys to come into the facility and get books they needed for research. I began going to the different sections of the department and begging the people to use the self-check-out system for any books they wanted. We were getting so many requests for materials that had disappeared, that I was afraid we would have nothing left. I sent letters to everyone and eventually things toned down and we were able to maintain a status quo for the book check-outs.

More and more journals were being donated, and I had to establish some quick binding to get everything in preservable shape. Contacts with a university in Virginia, some in California and Oregon and one in New Mexico yielded us a fairly large number of preprints in Low Temperature Physics and Quantum Physics. We were on an exchange routing that allowed the students and faculty a chance to read new research two years before it hit real print in the journals. My filing cabinets were getting full. Things were finally getting to a point where daily work was beginning to bore me.

Mr. Crumly came on one of his walks that morning and announced that Mr. Jenkins would be around to see the facility that morning. It happened about an hour later. Mr. Crumly, Mr. Harold, the Director, and Mr. Jenkins, the Asst. Director, all came for the visit. They remarked how clean and quiet the facility was. It had good location, being on the second of four floors. They peered into the journal alcoves and remarked about how uniform and clean the bindings were. I always kept an immaculate room. Mr. Harold mentioned that perhaps we shouldn’t be using library money to pay for a "bootleg" library’s bindings. I crooned back that the journals would not even belong to the library, if this gifting had not occurred. Our part of the deal was to bind them for posterity. I thought that $35,000 work of gifting was worth our $1200 worth of binding. He was not aware of the magnitude of the gifts and how much those materials actually cost the initial subscribers. Everything settled down. He announced that sometime in the future, there would be a Science Library built on campus and all of this would be moved. I told him I would wait for that and enjoy what we had at this time. He left with his nose in the air and I was happy to breathe oxygen free of his existence once more. What really mattered was that the faculty and students were well serviced by this facility. They always came first!

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