The Sort Center is the furious beating heart of the Library, where all books go to be sorted for their respective home branches, or delivered to other branches where waiting patrons snatch them up like Saturn prizing away scrumptious babies from his titaness wife. Every hour, at least sixty crates' worth of books are unloaded, sorted and reloaded from incoming to outgoing platforms, whole truckloads of books and tapes and cds and videos, the lifeblood and mother's milk of literacy in our fair city.
In my itinerant Library workschedule, I spend occasional hours here in the heart of the beast, earning my bread by speeding books on their way to their eager readers in parts unknown. I imagine cold, lonely nights in the wilderness, when the courage of the stalwart homesteader fails, and all they have to hope for, in the growing din of famished, howling wolves, is the mild caress of civilization locked away in the leaves of a tattered Library book, now speeding its way through wind and sleet and barbarian hordes and teenage skater-punks wreaking havoc on the delivery lines, only now set in motion by my humble, calloused hands.
But more likely, the books placed on hold are typically such rare incunabula as the latest Sue Grafton thriller or Martha Stewart's incarcerated lifestyle screeds. Ocassionally one comes across treasures like live recordings of James Brown at the Apollo or Supreme Court caselaw texts, but these are rare pearls in the sludge of Idiot's Guides and chick-lit.
I'm being disparaging, yes, forgive me, o reader.
These late evenings I've spent poring over the imposing file of documents my Aunt has sent me, in preparation for this coming Philippines trip. It's a maze of certifications and notarizations, passport and citizenship photocopies. I dream of papers and crates and teetering towers of books, while I stand in the knee-deep muck of a rice field. I bury my face in her neck and she holds me.
T-16 Days to the Philippines Expedition. Woe betide the unready.