They have a really wonderful system that I use (abuse?) regularly, in which you can browse the online catalog and request delivery on any book in circulation. Which is great, because I can pick out a half dozen books from various libraries around campus, or even in auxillary storage, on Monday morning and pick them up Tuesday at lunch.
So I dove in on fact-checking and fleshing-out research for my latest project, tentatively titled December and set in post-WWII Chicago. I have one character who was part of the Women's Land Army, so I picked up On the Farm Front, which is really fascinating for its exploration of how different regions accepted or didn't accept female farm laborers. For instance--many places were fine with women as seasonal workers, thought not as full-time laborers, and women would sign up for two weeks picking cherries or peaches. Some recalled these temporary stints as nearly a vacation, though a hard-working vacation.
And then I encountered one of the drawbacks of not browsing the stacks myself. Another character was in the Army Air Corps, and requested Masters of the Air, which is a history of the Eighth Air Force. Eeep. It's something like 700 pages long. A tome, if you will. I was hoping for about half that. On the bright side, it's engaging writing and I love reading about this era. On the downside, finding anything is brutal, and I'm having to search subjects in the index and then look up individual pages to get a concise history of the development and use of the various elements of the Air Corps at the time. For instance, I wanted to know how fighter escorts worked, and had to read pages 44-46, then 132-22 and then 213-15 just to determine when it became standard for bombers to use fighter plane escorts. Sheesh. I'm ashamed to admit that I might resort to watching old episodes of Dogfights on Netflix to fill in the blanks...
Isn't research grand?
In the meantime, I also requested one book just for fun--The Postmistress, which I've been dying to read. Pure coincidence, of course, that it's also set in WWII! The fellow checking my books out must have thought me a bit of a nut!