My university has a big library, a big-huge library.
Then it has a smaller departmental library, unnaturally and grotesquely shared by mathematics and physics.
Then there is a handbook-library of mathematics for the faculty, a half-hidden broom closet that also houses a water tap (for the coffeemaker, of course) and a noisy scanner.
This third, the tiny library, hasn’t a clerk or an orderly, so lending is done by an honor system: when you take a book, you leave behind a slip that tells who took it and when. There are no other rules.
Upon flipping through the slips I just noticed that Professor Lastname has three books on a loan, two of them since 1988. (To help the reader, I note this means a loan of twenty years.)
An exclamation of mingled horror and surprise might be appropriate at this point!
Another faculty-member, a Dr. Pseudonym, has a book loaned in 1987, and Professor Unknown has loaned a double handful of books in the mid-nineties. By comparing the loan lengths and the seniority of the loan-takers, I deduce that most loans aren’t coming back until the person in question retires.
Even though I am but a callow grad student (between MSc and a licentiate, aiming for a doctorate), maybe… maybe I should loan a book now, just to get the clock started. This might be one of those ineffable metrics of respect.
Or maybe it would be easier to do enough blackboard work to become a respectable chalkdust albino.