today i made my usual trip to uni’s library to pick up a few cds i had on hold for me, and something came to my attention walking into the building. i’d seen this sign before, but i guess today was the first time it made me double take. as you walk into the rod library building, in the area between the two sets of front doors, there is a bright yellow sign on the wall, a little higher than eye-level, about the size of a speed limit sign. this is what i saw:
weird huh? i don’t know why i’d never taken note of it before. so anyway, i go up to the circulation desk to pick my cds up, and in passing i ask the librarian what that sign is about, if the library could serve as a real fallout shelter in the case of some kind of weird nuclear emergency. she responded in sort of a surprised way, like she had never really noticed the sign before either. she wasn’t sure what exactly it meant. i said, “it’s not really a big deal, i was just curious.” she proceeds to let another librarian check my cds out while she goes to do some detective work. apparently she went to the dean’s office, which is located in the library directly adjacent to the circulation desk. in the meantime i’m waiting for this second librarian to finish my check out. the first librarian comes back out and says “well the dean isn’t in his office, but let’s go ask at the reference desk.” i assure her it’s not at all important and i just asked on a whim, and she says something to the effect of “that’s what the reference librarians get paid the big bucks for” and leads me toward the reference desk.
at this point i have no real choice except to follow her, or i guess i could’ve just walked away and acted like a huge a-wipe. but i didn’t want to do that because these librarians know me by now, having gone into the library every two or three days this summer to get cds. so i follow this lady to the reference desk, where we find an averaged age college kid sitting and doing something on a computer and also a old lady with white hair. probably in her 60s. the circulation librarian asked the reference librarian if the library was an actual fallout shelter, and she replied she didn’t know. at this point, i stressed again that it wasn’t any big deal and i was just curious, but she said she’d go ask the library director.
are you kidding me? i tried to stop her but it was no use. she came back with a middle aged guy, a little nerdy looking but nice enough. like the others, he told me the library basement was definitely used as a shelter for severe weather, tornadoes and the like, but he wasn’t sure if it was actually a legitimate fallout shelter if some kind of a nuclear accident were to occur. he also told me that if i was really interested (even after me telling him and the other two women that i didn’t care all that much), i could google “fallout shelters in eastern iowa” or “shelters for severe weather around eastern iowa”, or i could probably find something on wikipedia or somewhere else on the web. i said thank you and finally excused myself to leave.
luckily i wasn’t stopped by any other librarians trying to help me on the way out. the worst part of the whole deal was that at one point, i tried to give a look to the college kid behind the desk, like an eyebrow raise that meant “man these people really are going overboard with this aren’t they?” and i didn’t really get anything back in return. so i asked a simple question with a yes/no/i’m not sure answer and i end up looking a fool in front of three librarians and a kid my age. embarrassing. i bet working at the library is super boring if all the librarians get in a big kerfuffle over a silly question like mine.