Saturday, January 03, 2009

Outside Looking In

I tried to get on EEBO this morning, only to find that our institutional subscription has run out. I hadn't heard anything about it, and surely if the library decided to cancel the subscription, one of the librarians would have emailed about it, no? Because in reality, libraries don't make decisions, librarians do, and ours seem to be thoughtful, smart people.

But we have a budget crunch around here and it's pretty overwhelming looking at the numbers. So maybe someone decided that a few folks in the English department don't really need that database? (No one in the history department does England much.)

I'm hoping it's just an end of the year glitch about re-subscribing.

So in my panic, I screwed around on the web, reading some blogs, and ran across a blog I haven't read previously. It's one of those blogs that clearly has its own world going, and its commenters are part of that world; they seem to know each other in non-web ways.

So this blog is just a totally different world, a world of luxury, easy travel, time to travel, drinking tea here and there, chatting about the stuff this or that important person owns.

It's a totally different world.

And it's a grad student blog, a lit grad student, a lit grad student whose undergrad place apparently gives hir free access for life to things such as EEBO. There's discussion of the lattes at fine institutions of research.

It's a far cry from wondering if my institution can afford the c. $4-5K a year subscription fee.

Growing up, I was never really aware that there were people like this student. I mean, I read books about princesses and stuff, but they weren't real. Reading a blog though, makes me think about their reality, though. And it's a totally different reality, though we're nominally in the same line of work.

I wonder if out there, somewhere, is someone reading my blog and looking at my level of privilege with the same sort of alienation? It's easy to imagine.


  1. I hope it's just a momentary glitch for you. *hustles on over to her own institutional EEBO account and sees that her own access is working*

    I've never not been a member of some university community or another, but it doesn't mean I've had unlimited access to resources. Neither of the universities which I attended provided any access after graduation and at my current institution, we had to demonstrate the demand for the resource (English dept. & History dept. joined forces to get lots of students using EEB0 and ECCO so now we have both).

  2. Ooh ooh, privileged grad students and snarkery? Please, please pass it on; I sooo want to get in on some good gossip.

  3. The only privilege-envy I have here is the fact that you have a job. :) I love what you write here -- "I mean, I read books about princesses and stuff, but they weren't real." Seriously. Some people have no idea what they have. And even if you took it away, they'd still feel completely entitled to it. I grew up very poor - we had absolutely nothing - but it was good for me in the long run. It made me realize that if I wanted something I really needed to work for it. And it gave me a good work ethic. Some people never really understand that. (not that you MUST grow up poor to understand it -- just need to grow up in reality.)

  4. I attended an elite undergraduate institution, and a much less wealthy but prestigious graduate one; neither (I think) would provide me with access to EEBO for life. For many years I snagged EEBO off my husband's institution. Jeez. Lattes at research institutions? I spent a year at the Huntington (paradise for the early modernist) but the lattes were lattes -- and I paid for them.

    So sad that some people don't realize their privilege.... And as a historian, I apologize for your colleagues who don't use EEBO. Hope the snag is quickly resolved.

  5. Funny, I was talking today with a friend about "the beautiful people" and the life they lead. Who knew grad students were so lucky? But I suppose money is money, no matter what you're doing with it.

  6. I did my master's at a school with an amazing library. (I loved that library.) And amazing facilities. And incredible concert halls? But you know what? I was utterly miserable because it was such a competitive, snarky atmosphere.

    I'm now teaching at a school where no one can even imagine such luxury. And that's ok. Because I have a job that I usually enjoy, teaching students who will never, ever experience such fairytale institutions, either.

    Still, I can't help but feel a little envy at friends and colleagues with online access to the Grove Dictionary of Music...

    I hope you get your EEBO back.

  7. If it helps, we've never had EEBO (although we should), and the librarians make databases appear and disappear as if they are magicians and we're the unwilling audience.

  8. Janice, Thanks; I'm hoping it's just a glitch! I think we use it pretty well, and it's not all that expensive.

    Sisyphus, There's no snarkery there, really. The writer comes of as smart and nice, but just in a different world. Email if you want the url.

    Fie, /comfort I've still got my fingers crossed for the job market. But more, I'm hoping the economy turns around and we decide as a nation to prioritize education. I really do live in a fantasy world, don't I?

    Susan, Oh, the Huntington is other-worldly, isn't it? I love that place! We have good folks in history, just none do English or UK history. It's a matter of trying to use resources as well as they can, and that's how things have come out.

    PhD Me, I knew some grad students who lived pretty well in grad school, but none quite like this one. Heck, I lived okay in grad school, thanks to already having a car and not having to make payments on it. (That was key for me, I think.)

    TD, Thanks :) Yes, our students make me feel like I've got good work to do with them, and that does mean a lot! How's your kazoo?