Both authors attempting to write stories set in the 1632 universe, and down-timers in that universe have to deal with any number of changes that the presence of Grantville imposed. Some things are cultural; food, clothing, music, the role of women, religious tolerance, republican democracy. They all force the down-timers to deal with new things in their world. Some things are technological; airplanes, radios, telephones, high explosives, antibiotics. Of all the “things to deal with” in that new world, one of them holds a unique position as both something that came through the Ring, and something that was created to help deal with, and advance, the new world.

Very early in the first book, 1632, the characters avail themselves of the high school library to solve problems they’re trying to deal with. Why was the high school library so important? Grantville has a perfectly nice public library. You would think that “libraryness” would have coalesced around it. There were several pressures that made that wrong.

The public library, built in what once was the Mannington trolley barn, has absolutely no room to expand or to increase its collection. It is full. If you attempt to increase the staff and fill the building to handle the researchers that will come, they quite literally will be standing on each other’s feet. The building is poorly situated for security. The entrance is directly onto the street. There is neither parking nor sufficient room outside to do any real additions to assist in that.

The public library’s collection was in no way a reference collection. While they did have a decent selection of material on West Virginia geology and the coal mining industry, the library was primarily a fiction library with an excellent collection of travel and cookbooks all tuned towards the reading taste of the aging, impoverished, community of Mannington. If a member of the public needed a reference work, the state interlibrary loan program made it simple and fast to request whatever a patron wanted, but the staff at the library have told fans during the early minicons that the number of such requests was always quite low.

Finally, while a lot of administrative things were happening in downtown Mannington, the vocational-technical School, the music building, the science classrooms with their precious up-time materials and equipment were in the high school. The location of the public library put it at a serious distance from the work being done to re-create up-time tech and to scale down what they couldn’t re-create.

On the other hand, the high school library was securable. The door to the library was onto the front hall of the Grantville high school, behind the infamous trophy case, directly across from the equally famous gymnasium. The high school had airlock doors, then the entry hall, then the entrance to the library.

The library was spacious. While by no means would one walk in and say “wow echoing space” there was space, and in an architectural oddity, probably to decrease heating bills, the library had a suspended acoustical tile ceiling that was six to eight feet below the roof of the building. Also, the high school had classrooms to spare, at least at first. Many of the teachers at the high school were left up-time, and their classrooms were “unclaimed” in some sense, so one or more could be grabbed by the library staff for workspace without having to build. In the long term, the high school was built outside town and had open (if steep) ground around it. If expansion was needed, space could be built.

Finally, the library’s collection was designed for looking things up. The library collection was assembled for the needs of high school students doing reports. While it is true that there wasn’t professional depth on any subject, there was astonishing breadth and in the first days that was most important.

As a result, the high school library became far more. It became the National Library.

The Collections

There is the original collection of the high school library. This comprised approximately 320 to 350 linear feet of bookshelf. Using an average 1 inch per book, the high school library had on the close order of 3,500 volumes at the time of the Ring of Fire.

The first “collection” effort by the librarians, in consultation with the school’s faculty would have been to bring into the library copies of each of the textbooks in the building, and to gather the reference books and other miscellaneous books which were in the individual rooms of the teachers who were left up-time in order to protect and conserve them. Staff members were encouraged to also move “spare” books from their room collections beyond those they needed for their purposes in their rooms into the library. The librarians would have added the in-room collections to the catalog, noting their location. This would have increased the count by an indeterminate but very real number, probably approximating an additional 500 volumes or so, perhaps more if some of the language arts teachers were packrats.

The second collection was the first “public book drive”, the effort to salvage up-time knowledge and organize it and make it available. It is about that time that the reconstruction of the library begins. Rebecca’s TV show, and the newspaper and the radio and door-to-door canvassing encourages people to donate to the library copies of books they don’t really need, especially non-fiction texts—although they’ll take anything. The triage at the acquisitions desk would have sent some duplicate or triplicate or more volumes to the public library, others would have gone into off-site storage (one of the storage units at Higgins’ storage yard.) Eventually, doubtless, spare and duplicate copies of books were sold off as a fund-raising mechanism to fund the on-going improvements and operation of the National Library.

That first collection has to be a wild guess. The population of Mannington was approximately 3,500 comprising approximately 1,200 households. How many books were donated to the National Library, and of that, how many duplicate copies of the Encylcopaedia Americana and how many quintuplicate copies of Valley of the Dolls in aging 1960’s paperback?

Waving my hands in the air, I assume that the donations added between two thousand and four thousand items, taking the National Library into the range of eight to ten thousand “volumes,” counting a single issue of a magazine as a “volume.”

So, we were at approx 10,000 volumes at the end of Collection Phase 1. Then the fire happened, and Brother Johann began the great paper drive. This resulted in people turning in way more books than they had before, plus some individuals who had been keeping their personal libraries concluded that they were frankly endangered in their homes, plus books kept being turned in from other oddball places they were discovered around town (remember we found the EB 11 shelved on a two-by-four nailed between two studs in the round-barn in the real world) and we bring in unique copies of books and “spare” volumes from the junior high school library and the various elementary school libraries . . . We don’t want to lose the only copy of Where the Wild Things Are, and so forth. They were not stripping the schools, but selectively preserving. The junior high library and the elementary libraries collections are very different from a high school collection. Figure at that point that the primary of the National Library collection is in the neighborhood of 13,000 to 15000 items. If the National Library does contain the only surviving copy of Thomas the Tank Engine and the Great Race to Sugar Plum Hill, at least it will now survive, and if there is/was a demand for it, it can be copied and re-printed.

But wait! I got distracted, what happened during the great paper drive? Right. Magazines. Maps. Brochures. Newspapers. The owners manual for a 1963 Whirlpool refrigerator. The 1972 Sears catalog. The input from the paper drive was assembled at the Blackshere elementary school multi-purpose room, stacked in piles. The volunteers were given lists of “types of stuff of real interest” and a frantic triage happened. Stuff on the “list of interesting things” went into smaller piles on one side of the room. Magazines, maps, travel anything, tech anything, etc. Less obviously interesting stuff went into much bigger piles on the right labeled, if they knew, by who donated it and where it came from. The “less interesting stuff” was dense packed, frankly without any sorting of any kind, and without any consideration of preservation beyond “get it crudely safe” and was put into boxes and stacked in two storage units at Higgins’ Storage Yard.

The things that cleared the triage hurdle were quickly sorted by the library staff. Runs of magazines were assembled, with duplicates removed into the “middle category,” duplicate maps and books were sorted out, “no, we don’t need the refrigerator manual in the national library . . .” etc. Things sorted out from this ranged from high-value objects, duplicate issues of Playboy, duplicate issues of People or Time or Newsweek or National Geographic, duplicate tourist maps of London, things down-timers would gladly buy for real money (remember, the National Library is expensive to operate) and stuff that was not readily salable and not of obvious utility, that went back into the “unsorted” piles to be boxed and stored.

Counting individual magazines as “volumes” and adding in “objects” like maps and brochures and such which are individually cataloged as opposed to being cataloged as a collection (box of photos of Philadelphia from the 1960’s) the great paper drive added approximately another six thousand catalog entries into the National Library catalog.

This brings us to 19,000 (low) to 21,000 (high) unique catalog entries in the national library without considering books which have been printed in SoTF and the USE since the Ring of Fire, books written by library researchers, and books purchased on the open market because they freaking need them.

The SoTF declared the National Library in Grantville to be a repository library, for books produced in the SoTF, so book printers were expected to submit to the library one copy of any new title produced in SoTF. As new books were printed, the library collection expands automatically. As you can see below, this does not continue forever.

By the end of ’34 then, the overall collection would comprise somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 catalog entries with a potential high end of 30,000 but I don’t think so, comprising approx 20,000 up-time source texts and up to 5000 down-time texts, both original down-time books and down-time secondary sources derived from the collection in the library.

The Political Environment

During the early period post-Ring of Fire, the high school library is referred to as the “National Library.” At the time of the formation of the USE and the parliament, with the capital at Magdeburg, the government of what is now known as the State of Thuringia-Franconia have no desire for “their” library to be boxed up and moved to Magdeburg—or worse, considered a possession of the Vasa and moved to Stockholm. The signs and the name are very quickly changed to State Library of SoTF. This blocks the USE government from “grabbing” the SoTF “state” library.

Doubtless the USE forms a new “national” repository library, which is not the Grantville SoTF state library, but that’s not the subject of this work. The “National Library,” presumably in Magdeburg is a repository library and a library containing primarily contemporary works for the use of the political and commercial entities in the capitol. The function of the State Library of the SoTF is quite different. Additionally, the USE government is blocked from “grabbing” the SoTF “state” library out of Grantville and taking it to Magdeburg or worse. Doubtless the USE forms a new “national” repository library, which is not the Grantville SoTF state library, because honestly, there isn’t room, and the primary function of the SoTF state library is the availability of up-timer material and down-time references and guides to that up-timer material and down-timer texts on the exegesis of up-time texts, and translations and so forth. The “secondary” collection at the SoTF state research library then is those books about the collection in the SoTF state research library. It’s a very specialized library for all that its collection is amazingly eclectic, comprising tech and nonfiction and romance and porn and science fiction and God alone knows what.

In any event, the burgeoning collections of manuscripts and new publications happening all over the USE and beyond do not belong in the State Library for a second reason. There isn’t room. The physical restrictions of land space inside the Ring of Fire and of space in the high school restrict what can, and should, be done there.

The Physical Arrangement

It very quickly became clear that serious remodeling of the library would be needed to accommodate security, the expanded collection, and the expected researchers, but the shelving and space available in the early days was sufficient.

In the period after the Croat raid, when the National Library was being formed, when the internal and the beginnings of the external collection effort were just starting up in a vague and disorganized way, the first remodeling of the library itself began.

The original high school library was essentially a large open room. Like almost all American high school libraries there were open stacks. Anyone could browse the shelves and take a book down, look at it, put it back, take it to the desk and check it out, or sit at a table and work. When you entered the library through the door from the school’s entrance hall, you were in a large area approximately 20 x 30 feet which had low waist-high shelves holding what librarians call “ready reference volumes.” That is, the encyclopedias, the dictionaries, the atlases, and so on. These books are frequently used and are not circulating; you can’t check them out. Also in this area was shelves holding out-facing current issues of the magazines the library subscribed to, held in magazine protectors. Further in you find both comfortable chairs and an area of work tables surrounded by chairs where individual students could work on their projects.

To your right as you entered was the circulation desk. This was a square area perhaps 15 feet by six feet with a counter dividing it from the public areas of the library and with a desk inside it and providing something to rest books on as you consulted with the librarian or checked works out. Immediately behind the circulation desk was the librarian’s office and a work room where aides and student volunteers could sort books being checked in, catalog books and prepare them for circulation and so forth.

If you enter the library and turn to face the circulation desk, to the right of the desk is the card catalog. At the time of the Ring of Fire, the catalog comprised waist-high card drawer cabinets on metal legs, with four layers of drawers. Each of the three sections (title, author and subject) were perhaps four feet wide. In addition, a “shelf list” set of cards in shelf order was maintained in the library office.

On entering, after the ready reference area and the work tables, were the stacks. The original metal shelves were seven feet tall in units four feet wide. Since none of the barflys has ever posted a photo of the interior of the school library (Don’t ask me why. I’m kicking myself as I write this) I’m fighting between my memory from my own high school and my several visits to North Marion, but there were twelve to fifteen bays of books. Thus, there were on the close order of three hundred fifty feet of shelf space.

To the left of the bookshelves was the libraries collection of audio—LP’s and CD’s. I do not recall that the library had any circulating collection of video. If they did, it would have been VHS tape.

This layout was unsustainable. The single biggest issue was that the library needed to control access to the stacks. With the exception of a limited number of references of which duplicates were available which would remain in the ready reference collection, the stacks needed to be closed. It was also apparent that there wasn’t enough room for books. The collection was going to expand and that had to be dealt with.

A wall was built between the “ready reference” collection just inside the door of the library around behind the reference desk producing a closed “L” shaped room which held the stacks of the library. Immediately behind the reference desk, a small room was built which was the “staff room.” Just outside the staff room, inside the closed shelves was the “re-shelve” shelves where books were put, waiting to be re-shelved by a staff person.

In the re-model, the acoustical tile ceiling in the library was removed. It was already quite high, at least 12 feet, but removing it provided free access to the ceiling of the high school, not less than 20 feet. A substantial amount of discussion went into it, but the simple reality that many of the people who would be working the library were not young eliminated the ladder idea. The existing up-time steel shelves were moved around and the space was divided vertically into two ten-foot stacks. Bookshelves were built densely—everyone kept thinking about the wonderful up-time dense pack archival shelving that you can slide from side to side to move a single opening between whichever shelves you want, but that was impossible. So, dense pack shelves . . . you can’t work the library if you’re fat. Only approximately two feet of walking space was left between shelf units six feet deep. Lights over each nook individually switched, the shelving is usually dark. There is a six foot area outside the stacks between the stacks and the new security wall, which is open and not divided vertically, a stairs at each end accesses the walkway outside the upper stacks. This contains the work-tables for the library staff and the stack-access allowed researchers.

After the reconstruction, the library had approximately 40 of those two-foot niches of six foot long shelves, each of them approx 8 feet tall. (Stools, yes.) So . . . assuming 1 foot tall shelves (some will be more, some less) the reconstructed library contains 40 x 12 x 8 = 3820 feet of linear shelf space or the capacity for approximately 40,000 one-inch volumes.

There was no direct entry to the stacks from the public area. You would have to jump the circulation desk, then go through the workroom and exit into the stacks, which required breeching two separately locked doors with different keys.

A guard’s desk was placed directly in front of the entrance door. To enter the library itself you had to show your ID to the guard, who opened a gate to allow you into the ready reference area. Eventually only certified researchers were allowed into the reference area to consult the card catalog. People who were not certified to use the library were directed to a converted classroom where summaries produced by the library staff were stored and where trained researchers were available for them to commission to do their research for them.

The library did not discriminate against those who could not afford to hire researchers. The certification classes to become a researcher were available on a regular schedule for free. Of course, many people who wanted information were prepared to trade money for time. Additionally, the Grantville Public Library remained free to access with open stacks, recognizing the limitations the institution had.

In addition to the classroom grabbed for public use, two other classrooms became part of the library. One was the workroom for certified researchers where they could rent a cubby with a few shelves and a small desk and store their work-in-progress materials which could not leave the building. Of course, researchers with more money could rent larger cubbyholes. The second classroom became the library’s technical services room where books were cataloged, the card catalog cards were typed up, the acquisition marks and so forth were placed in the book and so forth. The technical room contained a duplicate of the shelf-list cards.

The Unsorted Archives

In addition to the cataloged material at the high school, after the great paper drive there was the two containers, approximately 2000 CUBIC FEET of unsorted archival material held in boxes of one to two cubic feet, each labeled with the donor if known and the address that was the source of the material. That material is slowly being gone through by volunteers, researchers from outside Grantville as they become certified, and high school students (the high school history classes do a box each semester). Processing two thousand cubic feet of random material which up-time would probably have been classified as “trash” will take a while because the process of cataloging it is non-trivial.

The sorted and cataloged stuff from the paper drive is not put onto the shelves at the National Library except in rare cases like the discovery of the photos of the Patealla State Monorail Tramway. It is cataloged and described, and stored in boxes which are shelved somewhere. That archival catalog is quite different from the card catalog of the SoTF library. (Thank God the Ring of Fire happened before the high school abandoned its card catalog for electronic cataloging.)

An archival catalog gives the item a number, describes it in brief, and then assigns it a series of keywords which refer to things which you might relate this document to. So, if you have the church newsletter from the Methodist Church from Sunday, March 23rd 1960, donated by Mrs. Smith from a collection gathered at the Mobil Oil gas station and 123 W 4th street, you assign it a document number, you note in the master storage list which is a book kept in document number order which BOX and FILE FOLDER that document is found in and a brief description (like the one I just wrote), and then, you go to the keyword journals for Methodist church, 1960, and perhaps some “names” if someone is named that seems worth it. Now, assume that it contains a mention of the thank you for the donation received by the African Mission in Kenya. You would go to the keyword journal shelves which contain the keyword journals which are a set of three ring binders and find the “K” section and flip to the page for Kenya and enter into it just the document number. Now, do the same thing for each other keyword you plan to assign. You may need to add a page for a new keyword, but you only do that after consultation because needless keyword expansion is the death of an archival index. Instead, if you don’t find the keyword you’re interested in, you check it in the notebook that contains the keyword thesaurus. We don’t, for example index under both phone and telephone. We chose one, and the other is cross referenced in the thesaurus.

Any future researcher will go to the keyword ledgers, and note the numbers of the documents he’s interested in, go to the DOCUMENT ledgers, look at the short description, and if he’s interested note the box and folder number, and go pull that document, replacing it with a card that says “Fred Removed document XYZ123 on 1634.3.27 ” or, more likely, he glances at it, says “nope” and goes on to the next box.

Eventually, another set of binders gets built by the people doing that kind of research . . . “Guide to the good stuff.” But deep searching doesn’t work that way. There are no shortcuts for deep searching.

A copy of the keyword list, along with a periodically updated count of documents which are referenced by that keyword is stored at the National Library. You can see that the archives contain one hundred twenty three items that mention Kenya, and no items that mention Wakarusa, Kansas. (Unless the cataloger missed a geographic reference on something. The archival catalog is continually expanding as researchers realize that a particular document had keywords missed, or incorrect keywords chosen, or there were transcription errors.

Summarizing: as of ’34, the 2000 some odd cubic feet in the SoTF national library paper drive collection is about 15% processed and there are about 1700 cubic feet of “stuff” still sitting there unprocessed. The rate picks up as other governments send people with the express instructions to work on it, and pay for work on it. I assume that the entire collection is processed by the end of 1637.

The Catalog

In an amazing blessing and gift, the public library had a copy of the large, detailed three volume guide to cataloging in the Dewey Decimal system. No such reference existed for Library of Congress cataloging, so the National Library started, and remained, a Dewey library.

One of the first jobs of the newly formed National Library staff was duplicating the card catalog so that a copy of the catalog could be held in the public research room and a separate, safer copy in the restricted area. The idea of cataloging, and the wonders of the invention of Melvil Dewey were a revelation to the community of down-time scholars. No one had ever considered any such thing. The idea of the quadruple catalog (shelf list, author, title, subject) was entirely new. Some few libraries had shelf lists. Some organized their shelves by general area. Some libraries had works written about them, discussing and listing the books within providing a catalog of sorts. Most libraries of the period, be they ecclesiastical, university, or personal, were shelved in the order the books were acquired, with the shelves grouped by size, Big books, medium ones, and small books on the same shelf in date of acquisition order, unless the owner also chose to shelve by color so that the shelves looked pretty. It was a librarian’s job to know what was in the library, and where to find it. If the librarian was asked for that Greek book with the witch that turned men into pigs, he would not only know you must be talking about Odysseus, but on which shelf he will find it. Most books did not have the title on the spine, and putting a shelf number or a catalog code on the spine would have been considered desecration at worst, and gauche at best.

The printed catalog of the library of the University of Leiden was first printed in 1595, and in the OTL, the famous catalog of the Bodelian library at Oxford University in 1674. Most scholars producing catalogs or beastiaries or gazetteers or other reference works did not organize their work in dictionary form (in alphabetical order) nor did they provide a dictionary form index. The idea of organizing information in dictionary form rather than by some less arbitrary means was uncommon and only just beginning to be used in the early modern period. A book of animals might be organized by geography, or by type (cats, dogs, beasts of burden) or by domesticity or ferocity or some other method the author thought reasonable. Reference works weren’t yet seen as random-access memory. While the scroll had long been replaced by the codex, the concept of jumping into a book at a random place, or jumping into a library at a random place based on something as arbitrary as the first letter of the animal’s name, or the city, or the author of the books in the library was not something that had yet dug deep into the minds of scholars.

The 3×5 index card wasn’t standardized until the late 19th century. In the OTL the very first card catalog was made in Paris of confiscated books during the French revolution in 1795, but the first functional card catalogs appeared in the U.S. in the 1870’s.

Melvil Dewey, director of the New York State library, working with Thomas Edison, not only standardized the first truly effective cataloging system but also standardized how the cards were to be produced, right down to developing the “Library Hand” system of handwriting. A sample of a card produced in “Library Hand” can be found at Part of the reason for the lack of complex cataloging was that even the largest libraries were quite small. At the time of the Ring of Fire, the famous Bodelien library at Oxford university comprised no more than five thousand books and manuscripts. The Nomenclator shelf-list catalog of the aforementioned University of Leiden Library comprised a grand total of 442 books and manuscripts. It is thought that one of the primary reasons for printing the catalog was to praise the donors so widely that it would encourage further donations.

By any standard, it is unarguable that by 1634 the National Library is far and away the largest library in the world in terms of the size of its collections, and it has absolutely unique cataloging requirements. The students who are certified as library researchers in Grantville spread out across the world and result in a major restructuring of the organization of knowledge worldwide. Dictionary Form, the Dewey Decimal System and the 3×5 card change the world.


The staff of the State Library is complex to describe and evolved over time. Without trying to trace that evolution, here is an overview of the “evolved” staffing after 1634.

The paid staff of the library

The core, of course, are the original librarians of the high school. The head librarian in 1634 is still the person who was director of the high school library in 2000. She had two paraprofessional assistants and ten student aides at the time of the Ring of Fire, who helped with the checking in and out and shelving and with cataloging and receiving magazines and rotating the magazines on the ready reference shelves.

By 1634, the job title of “Librarian” is restricted to those staff who have an understanding of the cataloging process both for books and the archival cataloging system, and who are trained in library management. A librarian can on any given day work as the duty librarian, or as a technical worker.

The librarian on duty while the library is open is charged with being available to the certified researchers and to review the flow of materials in and out of the closed stacks, and to and from the public reading room. The duty librarian is at what was originally the circulation desk of the high school library, and along with the door guard, controls access to the stacks, which can be entered only by passing through the duty desk and then through the staff room. The small ready reference room inside the door, outside the stacks, contains the ready reference collection and work tables for those researchers certified to work there. Anyone applying for a job with the title “Librarian” is required to pass a range qualification, and to re-qualify each month on the .38 caliber revolver kept in the ready holster at the duty desk. Being a librarian in Grantville is serious business. If you can’t take that, go work at the public library, or a university. By 1634 there is a head librarian, a deputy librarian and twelve staff librarians who work the desk in rotation. In 1634, the library has not yet gone to 24-hour-a-day operation, and is open from dawn to one hour after dusk, six days a week.

After the librarian come the library technical staff. This includes shelvers, who are responsible not just for shelving books, but for retrieving them based on call slips filled out by researchers. These are frequently young people who not only have the flexibility to deal with the cramped shelf spaces but the endurance to deal with being up and down the stacks throughout a shift.

Reference staff are cross-trained as catalogers and as researchers and are generally a first-level escalation for non-staff researchers who need help finding something. They work assigned shifts rotating between the library tech room performing cataloging and other functions, and the escalation desk in the research room.

Security is a separate department with a department head and twenty full-time guards. After the first attempt to burn the library, security was increased and guards operate in pairs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. During the time the library is open, one guard must be at the door desk at all times. When the library is closed, the guards base themselves in the staff room. Day and night, one guard does a walk around inside the library and outside the high school hourly, using a clockwork driven paper tape recorder which has to be punched with the distinctive keys chained to check stations inside and outside the school. The guards refer to these check stations as “the stations of the cross.” If a guard fails to make a checkpoint, or fails to make a circuit, the guard commander knows when they review the tape and disciplinary measures are taken. The guards are armed with arms provided by the library, although they may also have personal arms, and have rules of engagement which permit them to shoot to kill to protect the library from arson or other destructive actions. If a guard fails to return from a check-walk, the other on-duty guard has both telephone and radio access to the Grantville police. While not sworn peace officers, the security staff is authorized to hold individuals on suspicion until the police arrive. The library guards, inevitably, provide an overall security function for the high school complex, but they are trained that, given a choice, they will protect the library. Many of the guards are highly professional and regard their mission of protecting the only source of up-time learning a holy mission.

The auxiliary staff

There are several groups which may, at some times be considered library staff but are not paid by the library.

Certified researchers have passed most of the training for library technical staff described above, but instead of working for the library, take on commissions from outside individuals and groups to research topics in the library and produce reports for their employer. Some of these are actual employees of individuals and outsiders, others are free lancers working on commission on a project basis. Researchers are certified at two levels, catalog access and stacks access. At the lower level, the individual is allowed inside the ready reference room, full access to the reference catalog (not the public copy in the public reference room which is frequently difficult to get to) and unlimited “check out” privileges. These researchers can rent cubbyholes in the researchers’ room and hold books in their cubbies while working on projects. Fully-certified researchers have all the privileges mentioned above plus access to the staff room and the stacks, and the right to use the work tables inside the closed stacks.

Certified archival catalog volunteers have passed a certification course on processing unsorted archival material as described above. They do not work at the State Library but rather at the archives, which I think is in the old elementary school, which is the Mannington Museum (not the round barn, the old school building), but might be somewhere else.

Library users are the lowest level of access to the National Library. They have passed a minimal course on the organization of the card catalog, dictionary form, the Dewey Decimal System, library hours and procedures, and care of materials. Library users have access to the public research room, the public catalog, the duplicate ready reference material stored there, and can request materials from the stacks by submitting a call slip to the reference desk clerk in the reference room. Library users can enter “past the bar” in the public reference room into the working area where materials and most work tables are.

Getting a book: When a user or a researcher submits a call slip, a shelver will get the work, unless it is checked out to a cubbyhole, in which case he or she will note who has the work and tell the user who he needs to contact.

If the user requests it, a recall note will be passed to the person who has the work so they have a chance to remove their notes and bookmarks. If they don’t get the book back within two working days, all the works in the cubby will be retrieved. If a book is missing, it will result in loss of certification.

Public access: If a member of the public wants to consult a researcher, and does not want to do the user certification class or do the research themselves, they can go to the public reference room “outside the bar” and consult with any of the users or certified researchers who will be hanging out there to solicit commissions to do research. A few small tables are provided outside the bar, but generally the negotiations will move from the public room to the cafeteria. Many such contracts are also concluded at the Gardens, and at Cora’s Coffee Shop, where researchers are known to make themselves available.


Few things have the influence on the future of humanity that the State Library of the SoTF does. The Crucibellus Manuscripts, the Declaration of Independence, the charter of the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church, the proceedings of Vatican II, “Dueling Banjos,” and “Can You Hear the People Sing?” come to mind, but arising from the humble beginnings of the Grantville High School, the State Library of the SoTF belongs in that pantheon of the achievements and the noble goals of humanity.