It occurs to me that I do not want to have to haul all 43 of my library books back to campus at once, so I decided to start taking a few of them back at a time. This was harder than I expected, psychologically. It's not that I have such a deep emotional attachment to most of the books; it's more that even though I am really, truly, officially done with school, I can't shake the nagging feeling that I might need one of those books later.
I understand that I cannot logically have a legitimate scholarly need to keep these books any longer. Even if I wanted to add something or make changes to my thesis, it's too late. It's been filed with ETD. The paper copies have gone to the printer for binding. The ship has sailed, the bridges have burned, the Assistant Dean has signed the paperwork. But at some deep, visceral, almost wordless emotional level, I fear that if I take back Brissenden's Virtue in Distress or Trumpener's Bardic Nationalism or, heaven forbid, Butler's Maria Edgeworth: A Literary Biography, I will somehow discover within a week or two that I need to look up a page number or verify some obscure fact or reference, and the book I need will be gone.
So, baby steps. Tonight I took a deep breath and started by returning the easy ones: the critical editions of Edgeworth's novels and Practical Education, all of which have searchable full versions available online anyway, and Kowaleski-Wallace's Their Fathers' Daughters, which turned out to be less relevant to my project than I had hoped, in spite of the fact that she is one of the few modern critics who have anything at all to say about Helen.