Grave-Digging and Periodical Backshifting

Although I had originally intended to use this blog as a place to share news and updates regarding my written work (i.e. books and poems), I have found that it is much easier to blog when I extend my horizons to tidbits from daily life. And, as most of my creative writing has been placed on the back-burner due to graduations, work, and limited times when I can use the internet, I have decided that my blogging will now include stories of my own personal experiences (as if it hasn’t before). Anyhow, enjoy!


I felt like a grave-digger as I entered the narrow space between the shelves of periodicals. There is a lot of work going on in the library this summer, and the projects have extended into the periodicals department. My current project: back-shift several shelves in order to make room for the books that are being back-shifted. (For those of you who haven’t picked up on the meaning of the term “back-shift”, it means we’re condensing items to make room for more stuff).

Anyhow, I stood there, staring at the shelves for a few minutes before I reached up and began moving the journals and magazines from one shelf to another. Dust flew in every which direction as I unearthed the ancient volumes from their resting place. Who knew how long they had been there?

At last I worked my way up to the top shelf. I was moving our set of Discover magazines and had already placed a few on the shelf. Now, as one might know, magazines are not the most sturdy things in the world and so no sooner had I stood a few up on the shelf than they all slid down. Balancing a handful of magazines in one hand, I attempted to prop the other ones up. After a bit of a struggle, I managed to get them all up and put the new ones on the shelf. Those promptly slid down as well. Grumbling, I grabbed a bound volume and shoved it up against the loose magazines, hoping it would hold them up. No luck. That, too, slid down, adding an additional bang as it came to rest on the metal shelf.

Grumbling under my breath, I grabbed a metal bookend and shoved it up against the stack. I pulled my hand back and watched it nervously. They stood this time. Sighing in relief, I reached for another handful of magazines. Crash! Bang! The bookend had slid out under the pressure of the row of magazines and had gone flying off the top shelf, hitting nearly every other shelf in the vicinity as it tumbled to the floor. Frustrated, I picked the bookend up off the floor, shoved the magazines back, and reached out to put the bookend back in place. One corner hit the shelf with a metallic twang and slipped from my hand. A great clatter ensued as it bounced like a football backwards and forwards, coming to rest on the other side of the row of shelves I was working with.

Great! I thought to myself, walking around the bookshelf to pick the bookend up. Someone’s gonna think I’m tearing down the library at this rate! Well, forget the bookend. I’ll fill up a box instead.

I grabbed an empty container and filled it with loose magazines. Then, supporting the others with one arm, I slid the container up against the stack. This time, they stayed. Thank goodness!

It wasn’t long before the process began to repeat itself, however. I quickly came to the conclusion that the dusty, old journals and magazines had a vendetta against me for disturbing their ancient resting place. I just simply didn’t have enough arms to catch everything that jumped out at me.

At last I came to a set of psychology magazines. While most magazines have smooth covers, these were particularly smooth. It was like trying to juggle slime as I attempted to keep them from falling as I placed more on the shelf. I wasn’t having much luck. The ones I had been supporting were sliding off the shelf in all directions while the ones in my hand were mirroring the process on the shelf. Wrapping one arm completely around the stack, I felt like a contortionist as I attempted to get the other magazines on the shelf. It was comforting to know that few people came to the library during the summer.

Finally, I shoved the last of the magazines onto the shelf, then stood back. Any longer and I just might have needed psychological help.

Next, I moved to a set of journals called Current History, most of which are bound volumes. This should be easier, right? After all, they’re just like books. I shifted the first few onto their new shelf. Bang! Bang! Two of the volumes came crashing down onto the surface of the metal shelf. To me, they sounded like gunshots. Visions of the grim reaper played through my mind as I waited for the final “shot”. After all, “third time’s a charm”, right? Apparently, however, the other volumes decided to leave me be and stay upright.

Quickly, I moved the remaining volumes onto their new shelf, then gathered up the remnants of my work and headed downstairs. Who knew moving periodicals could be so stressful? I didn’t want to think of the other twelve or so shelves I had yet to shift. Well, the sooner I got it done, the better. Until then, I’d just have to deal with feeling like a grave-digger.


5 thoughts on “Grave-Digging and Periodical Backshifting

  1. LOL!!! I love when you write your observations of you adventures! You always make me laugh! Have you ever seen “Marley & Me”? I think you should write a column, like the main male actor in that movie. Keep it up!


  2. I loved it! You have such a way to make the most normal situations come alive. Thanks for sharing Lyn. I hope tomorrow is less frustrating.

  3. Awe, Lyn! I’m not going to lie, this post of yours did make me laugh! Partly because this sounds like something that would happen to me. I hope things aren’t so bad now. Good luck shelving and re-shelving books!

    1. Well, things are going as smoothly as they can. I’m hoping to finish back-shifting before July, possibly even sooner. We’ll see. Anyhow, thanks! I need all the good luck I can get!

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