Back to the Bible. O.T.

Back to the library. I've had the good fortune in my lack of fortune to spend several days working at my old library job unsnarling cataloging problems.

People have strange interests and hobbies. I don't understand train and plane spotting or coin collecting. Why someone would collect army tanks (fullsize) is beyond me. Ditto for climbing the highest peak on every continent, Star Trek conventions, and editing Wikipedia.

You will not understand why I enjoy library catalog snarls. Can't explain it myself, except that it uses perserverance, patience, and attention to detail that were rewarded traits in my formative years, along with big doses of bifocal squinting. Cataloging is probably equal parts of nature and nurture and nuttiness.

Cataloging is a very slow game in which the rules change slightly every ten to twenty years. All the participants realize they are tiny workers in the cosmic ant farm. When the Human Genome Project runs out of work, the scientists can search for the markers in classification strands and trace the origin of librarians. Are we all descended from the original Dewey in the Library of Eden (where everyone whispered and no one had sticky fingers)?

So this week I've been cleaning up the Bible. It's a bad job, but somebody's gotta do it, as Noah once said. You could high-center the Ark on the mountain of confusion in the catalog of your town public library's subject heading tangle of O.T. and Old Testament mired in obsolete computer subfields and codes.

The only snarl I can remember worse than Bible headings was A.S.T.M. Originally the American Society for Testing and Materials, now known as ASTM International, it's a voluntary standards development organization which has created thousands of standard test methods by which materials and produced items are tested and evaluated and compared. And I have to add that for each of those thousands of standard test methods there are hundreds of committees, subcommittees, conferences, monographs, and annual reports. Then there are the cross references that lead a searcher through the acronyms and name changes since 1898. All that's needed is the word "begat", and maybe the seven sacks for the seven wives met on the way to St. Ives. In the olden days just after the dinosaurs died out, I used to glare at the card catalog (now obsolete and sorely missed), and think A Serious Thorn in My (backside).

In my hospital volunteer "Candy Striping" days (C.S.D.), I got off work at seven p.m. Dad would pick me up, and about the time I climbed into the '54 Chevy, the peppy theme song for "Back To the Bible" would be playing on the radio. "Back To the Bible" was based in my hometown, and perhaps prepared me in some small measure for my future life in the fundamentalist Bible Belt. On lucky Wednesdays, Dad would drive me to King's for a burger and fries, or a tuna frenchee sandwich (a tuna salad sandwich battered and deep-fried in holy hot grease). All I can remember of the song is:

Back to the Bible
Back to the Bible
The wonderful word of the Lord

A word for today
and a word for tomorrow
The wonderful word of the Lord

Barbie was a Candy Striper. She never got old enough to be a Pink Lady. She never got the library bug, either.

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