I have figured something out. Something that I should have, in retrospect, already known. Graduate students are the grunts of the academic world. You need some extra help with registration for that conference you’re putting on? Call the grad students. You’d like to unload some of those old texts you’ve got lying around the office? Get the grad students to put on a book sale for you (and buy most of the books themselves, incidently). You’ve got a bunch of unpublished letters sitting in your research library? Assign your grad students to edit them as a class assignment.
Just got done with that last assignment, and I swear, it took me three days to just figure out who all the people were that were referenced in the letter. Two-paragraph letter. And finding out information about unpublished letters when you don’t have the time to fly all over the world looking at various uncatalogued collections in research libraries is not easy. So I largely gave up and went with what I had. I’m sorry, but giving us one week to do this sort of thing, when we don’t know how to do this sort of thing? I did enjoy finding out the stuff, but I’m really fairly content with just knowing things. I don’t care whether the things expand our knowledge of such and such or shed light on this or that (which we’re supposed to write a bit about in an accompanying essay). Maybe I should be a librarian instead. I have seriously considered this…if only to work on getting better electronic search tools. Libraries have come a long way in the last several years, very true, but there’s so much more that could make this research easier! To start with, Amazon.com-style “recommendation” algorithms would be extremely useful. Also, tags. And community features. Yep, we need Libraries2.0, complete with Web2.0 folksonomy features.
But to do that I’d probably have to quit here and go get a degree in library science or something. Grrr.