Statistical impossibilities

the stacks

the stacks

We keep our collection of older periodicals in rolling stacks, as many libraries do. Each stack is about seven shelves tall, that means that only 1/7th of the shelves can be top shelves… Do you agree? Good.

How is it then, that most of the time I go in there to fetch a volume, the one I need is on a top shelf? A shelf that requires me to haul and manoeuvre step ladders round corners and between stacks? I say most of the time because it’s well over half, maybe even more than two thirds of the time. How can that be?

Impossible, you say? Exaggeration, you mutter? No. I have proof.

This very afternoon I went into those stacks looking for four different volumes – three of them were on the top shelves. 3 out of 4 – and that was only today!

As a very small librarian in a library of very tall shelves, I fear the Universe is mocking me…


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