the definition of irony

the first time i saw this headline, i thought, “oh, how nice. darnton’s standing up for freedom of access. go him.”

and then i went away.

and i thought about it.

and i thought, “gosh. how many times have i been in widener and thought— wait. i’ve been in widener once. to pick up photocopies. for my professor. and i needed two forms of i.d. to get into the basement. they almost never do ill. they don’t do consortia (that i know of). they barely do the neighborly thing of letting faculty of other colleges use their collections (unless you’re some hot shit like niall ferguson or simon schama in which case they’ll be all over you). you practically have to run over broken glass (and make some friendly faculty member at your own institution do it, too) to get six days a year of access as a graduate student. possibly they should look to their own access issues before bitching about other people’s.”

(i should note here that my quibbles with the harvard library system are largely with widener and their absolutely ridiculous access policies. the harvard special collections and archives are more than charming — nice librarians, beautiful facilities, great collections, and, if you go to houghton on friday morning, they give you coffee and scones!)

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