Libraries can be incredibly romantic.  Not the WiWi (economics) library here, obviously, because economists wouldn’t know romantic if it hit them in the face. That library is touted for being brand new, but like many brand new things, is chock-full of problems: from the mandatory use of lockers when there is an inadequate number of them to the computers that can’t read PDFs and don’t have Microsoft Office or any alternatives to the never-staffed Info desk, it’s the perfect example of how not to design and run a library.

my window seat

The SoWi (social science) library I’m sitting in right now is the polar opposite. There’s shelf after shelf of books and journals, lots of windows, lots of little rooms with five or so desks if you want more quiet, and single desks arranged throughout the entire winding, maze-like facility in the hundred or so nooks and corners and hidden-spaces-behind-bookshelves. I took so many turns that I don’t know where the main exit is anymore!

It’s a warm, cosy space that feels and smells like knowledge and studiousness. There are lockers too, but when I asked the librarian if he had change for a 5 euro bill he said I could just take my bag and coat in. In other words, they are HUMAN! There is even a Teeküche – tea kitchen – in this library – I mean, a kitchen inside a library? Is this heaven? Maybe it’s not for students or visitors and only for staff. But maybe it’s for everyone. Who knows? I’m checking it out later on my snack break for sure.

I recently saw a blog post about the most beautiful libraries in the world. And from the photos, they do look mighty impressive and grand. But I am also wooed by the small, musty, dusty labyrinths with shelves sagging from the weight of wisdom that exude a culture of knowledge acquisition. They remind me that education starts with the self rather than the institution.

Speaking of institutions, back to studying for Monday’s exam on institutions :P

What do you like to see in a library? What’s your favourite library, and why?

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