So today we seemed to finally start emerging from the cold snap that had been holding Paris down for the past couple of weeks, which meant that the ice that had formed over the past week had melted enough for me to actually venture out on a bike to work.
Work itself was fine and productive and all that, but the highlight of the day was going online and discovering that there was a seat sale for Paris-Berlin flights in March on EasyJet. Yay! I also managed to find a good price on tickets to Berlin with Lufthansa in February, so I bought tickets on the same weekends that my friends from London will be in Berlin, both in February and in March. Party-time!
After that, it was straight home to catch up on blogging, compose a new track, and do some work trying to track down some books that I need to consult for the next draft of my chapter. As it turns out, almost all of them are actually available somewhere in Paris, but the problem is where. I finally found a catalogue that covers all of the holdings of the various academic libraries in Paris. As I started punching in the various books that I needed, I was at first delighted to see all of them show up in the listings. However, as I started taking note of the institutions, I realized that every book was in a different fucking library. Seriously. Unlike most major academic libraries in the US and Canada—which are connected to universities that teach a wide variety of topics—Parisian libraries are usually very topic-specific. This is fine when you’re doing a project that focuses on a topic that covers one discipline and one topic/region, but if you’re doing something interdisciplinary or trans-local, this means you have to go from library to library, consulting your various sources.
But wait, it gets better. As anyone who is familiar with French bureaucracy might expect, each one of these libraries has a separate set of hours, regulations, borrowing policies (whether you can take a book off-premises or not) and—most frustratingly—borrower registration. That means that, in the next couple of weeks, I will apply for and get borrower’s cards for about 6 different libraries in Paris, each of which has a different set of requirements and forms and procedures. I suppose this is the price of interdisciplinarity: incessant border-crossing, with all of the hassle that entails.
And, since I’m sure you’re incredulous at this news, here is a link to the online GoogleDoc version of my list of books, which shows where each one is located. The first three authors are articles rather than books, but after that you can see how each one is located somewhere different in Paris.