Anyone who has visited a rare book room has had the experience of asking for a particular book and finding, on arrival, an object that is not quite what was envisioned: a photo facsimile in a dull green cover, a note from librarian including the word reliure or one of its many variants, an empty desk, a reference to EEBO, the wrong book. There is obviously just as much evidence (of something), just as much “thing-ness,” just as much interest, in any one of these objects or nonobjects as there is in the desired object, but library patrons in my experience are not satisfied with that. These are not the right things, the things containing what one wished to know. The conversations one might have with librarians in these situations are generally as memorable as anything one could get out of an old book, yet they are never enough. Those conversations?—they are just not “it.” The politics and policies of rare book rooms, although known to be the single most important factors in the history of books-these are not the issue. That is not what one wishes to know. One wants the thing itself, behind the policies, apart from the politics, abstracted from the insecurities and bureaucratic burdens of the Head of Collections.