library shlibrary

November 16th, 2006

So this week I started another course and I was pretty excited about it. The subject sounds interesting and it's definitely something I want to know more about. In a sense a regret from my previous college that we barely touched on it. But in fact, I'm rarely this excited about starting a new course, so I wanted to take the opportunity to get right into it. The course website lists a total of 17 books, one of which is the textbook, 4 of which are locked up in a special room and not-for-loan and 2 are in Dutch. That still leaves 10 books that are supposed to be in the library, not bad. I never do this, but I thought that for once I would do some extra reading aside from what is assigned, just to satisfy my own curiosity on the subject.

So I print the list and head down to the library. The building has seen some major reconstruction the last few months and they library has just reopened, which shows. The book shelves look normal, but the reception area is a bit of a mess. I get stuck behind some person trying to borrow an overhead projector, which easily takes 15 minutes of chit chat, interrupted by phone calls to the reception desk, trying to find stuff and figure out how to do that. When it's finally my turn, the distressed librarian, with a hint of impatience, tells me I don't have to ask at the reception desk, I can look the book up myself. So she walks over to one of the computers, marked "staff only" and moves the mouse. The screen remains black, even though the machine is on. Beside the linux machine is a Windows box, also marked "staff only". She moves the mouse, a login window appears. She logs in and waits. After about 30 seconds of the login still being processed, she turns back and looks it up on her own computer at her desk. The book I'm after turns out.... not to be in the library. In between more phone calls to the reception desk. I ask if there's a web interface for this and apparently there is. The whole process of trying to find this one book took about 40 minutes and accomplished nothing.

When I finally found the web interface for the library, it turns out only 3 of the 10 books are actually in the library. They can be ordered online, but again I couldn't log into the library system, it's not accepting my password.

Btw, what is with those not-for-loan books? It's like visiting a prisoner in jail. It's not even that much of a problem when the library is a big building and you just can't take the book out. But in my building there's a little room where all of these books and and it's locked, possibly open by appointment only. It's like a doctor's waiting room. Who would sit in that little room for hours on end reading a book of hundreds of pages? And you won't be done in a day, you'll have to keep coming back, like a doctor visiting his patients.

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2 Responses to "library shlibrary"

  1. erik says:

    "It’s not even that much of a problem when the library is a big building and you just can’t take the book out."

    I disagree, it's a hassle whichever way you look at it. I have the misfortune of needing books like that for my thesis. The library in Middelburg is huge, four stories. But I can't get any work done in there, it's such an unproductive environment for me. Doesn't help that there's no internet available for my laptop either, if I don't get something immediately (history can be confusing in books that don't follow chronological orders), I like to read quick summaries on wikipedia or wherever...

  2. numerodix says:

    Oh, I agree with you, I can't stand sitting in the library. In fact I've no idea how so many people do it. I need a comfortable, quiet spot, most libraries don't come close to meeting my needs. Back in Trondheim the city library had this row of desks behind their bookshelves, by the window. It was a nice place to sit, right by the heater, but plenty of light with the huge window, and not adjacent to anything else, the desks were about 3-4m from each other. But those seats were always taken, in fact just about every seat in the whole building with a desk was occupied most of the time.