Friday, 5 July 2013
Thank you Library and Archives Canada
There's something about the national archives that always makes me happy. It's not any one thing - the view out over the river, the pseudo-Stalinist modernist architecture, the rare privilege of being away from the children, with the permission to be a historical voyeur for several days... it could be any one of these things. Or just some ineffable happiness that comes from knowing that I'm actually getting paid to do this. A privilege indeed.
And then, alas, there's always something that snaps me out of my reverie. Every trip.
Today it was a wrist strap for my phone. I didn't have one. But I needed one, or so I was informed. There I was snapping picture after picture of correspondence from the Pierre Trudeau fonds when some kind lady came to tell me that I needed a wrist strap.
No doubt I looked confused, but she patiently explained to me that I might drop my phone and damage the documents. Apparently all 112 grams of my iphone were going to fall on the paper and... well... you know, hurt the paper.
As she left, she looked just so pleased to have helped me.
Then later in the day I sat and listened to an audio recording of Blair Neatby, the former official biographer of Mackenzie King. He was speaking about how the archives used to treat professors. In the early 1960s, when he would come to work on the King papers for the summer, they gave him his own office! He could, if he liked, just go and pick up the documents off the back shelves, though he said he preferred to go to one of the archivists.
Me, I had to stop taking pictures at 5PM. That's when the reference folks go home. You can still stay in the archives until 11, but you can't take pictures. Can't be trusted, you see. They really are looking out for us, the good folks at Library and Archives Canada. I'm as grateful as a broken cup.