Practical Exercise


I decided that after lunch I’d spend more time mapping the library.  Triskittenion Hall has several library rooms with floor to ceiling shelves, library ladders with rails near the top, and second-floor balconies similarly shelved and laddered.  In the Great Library, library shelves are low enough that I could reach their top with a two-step stool.  When I grow up, I won’t even need a stool. The ceilings are far above the top of the shelves, allowing light and air to circulate freely. You need a larger building, but that sort of cost rarely constrains the Commonality.  Besides, this is the Academy.  The shelves need to be practical for young adults, many of whom are shorter than I am.  I spent much time walking, making clean notes on page after page of paper.  I did take one of the not-quite hidden stairs up to the top.  The fourth floor was in large part the domain of the librarians, but one end of the building was a large Hall labelled Exotica and Esoterica.  OK, I’d found that Hall. I also discovered the freight elevators, clearly marked ‘Librarian Use Only’.

Until I healed I was supposed to avoid vigorous physical activity; I had to limit myself to walking the library’s corridors.  The place is enormous, not to mention ill-organized, not at all like my family’s library. The spellwork keeping it cool, dry, and dust-free is well-maintained, but that does not put books in particular locations. Supposedly there are forty miles of corridors separated by bookshelves. That’s a long walk, even if you don’t stop regularly to take notes. By early evening I’d covered part of the building.  The chimes and my nodding head agreed it was time for me to go to bed.

On return home I found a polite note from Chancellor Everbright.  She apologized for the infringements on my safety, and assured me that if I were to stay that the events I had experienced were not typical of life at Dorrance Academy.  On the other hand, she promised, if I wished to leave the Academy, I would receive a full refund on everything I had paid, doubled for the inconvenience I had suffered, and a  letter of attestation to any school I might wish to attend instead, anywhere in Outremer.  I wondered why she wanted me to leave, but allowed that was an issue for my attorneys. I sent her a polite thank-you note and forwarded the letter to Heath.

Library Reform Society

The Library Reform Society met weekly in the Library’s Western Star Conference Room.  I’d very vaguely heard of Western Star.  It had been some sort of reform movement about the time the Library was founded, a quarter-million years ago.  I have no idea what else Western Star did, but they had endowed a very nice set of rooms. The floor was polished stone, some sort of quartzite at a guess; the walls and ceiling were a very pale blonde granite.  A line of ghost lights hid in sconces around the walls, giving the room pleasantly uniform indirect lighting.

We were before the start of the term, so a fair number of students had not returned to the Academy yet.  There were still several dozen students seated along the length of a large polished oak table.  The rows of elevated seats behind them were almost empty.  The fellow who’d invited me, Ambrose Parkhurst, was seated at the near end of the table.  He waved and pointed at the chair he’d clearly saved for me.

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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