Monday, 30 August 2010

Library Envy

I have a great library, for its size. It doesn’t have a gigantic collection, but it does have dedicated librarians who are always happy to help with inter library loans. I have nothing really to complain about. I should use the library more than I do, my biggest problem is actually access. I don’t have a car and I live outside the village. This means that my mum often ends up picking up my ILLs and returning them for me. But generally I have nothing but praise for my library. However, occasionally I get a BAD case of library envy. Usually when I read about great libraries on book blogs. Libraries that seem to have the latest books in. Libraries that have scores of audiobooks for downloads (mine now does, but only in Swedish). Libraries with vast collections. I get jealous. No bones about it.

 Mike-Wazowski2 Image Credit

I am also geeky enough that when I am in a city, if it is at all possible I like to check out the town library. Yes I am THAT geeky. Libraries are my happy place. But this can also lead to bad cases of library envy. This was the case a few weeks ago when I took a day trip to Stockholm.

After wandering around Söder (the South side) for a couple of hours, my feet were tired so I hopped on a bus to the main city library. Ho boy! Green eyed monster envy here! Not only is the library gorgeous on the outside

Stockholms-stadsbibliotek-2003-04-14 Image Credit

but it also looks like this on the inside

Stockholms-stadsbibliotek-rotundan-2003-04-14 Image Credit

“Okay, okay” you say, “the library is PRETTY but a library has to be so much more than pretty! It needs to be functional!”

Well let me tell you, this library is so awesomely functional I don’t know where to begin!

Let’s start with the room in the picture: The rotunda. It doesn’t actually look quite like this anymore. The librarians desks in the middle are much smaller and have been replaced with several short time use computers and self-check out machines. Don’t get me wrong, they haven’t replaced the librarians, I saw several while I was there, but their workspace is smaller.

So to the collection in this room. This room contains mostly fiction in European languages (including Swedish and English).

Off this room (through the door in the middle for example) are smaller rooms that hold, as far as I can see, primarily non-fiction collections along with plenty of study spaces. The collections seem to be quite extensive (I browsed the teaching section and religion sections), I added several books to my virtual TBR pile and cursed the fact that this wasn’t my library so I could borrow them straight away.

There were tonnes of people studying, doing homework etc at the study places and it had a busy but not disturbing feeling to it. I could easily see myself working there on a regular basis.

Mike-Wazowski Image Credit

Off the rotunda, through a corridor, the children’s and YA library is located. I didn’t spend a great deal of time in that part of the library, but, from what I saw, it was a great space. The first room you come into had children’s books in different languages, which is great in a city like Stockholm where we quite a few recently arrived immigrants. Allowing their children to have access to books in their own language is great. The space also felt very cozy. It was warm and quiet. I really liked it. Looking at their website they also seem to have many activities in the children’s section.

I’ve visited libraries on two continents, in several countries. Libraries never fail to excite me, be they tiny or large, be they in modules, busses or grand buildings. Libraries are my cathedral. The ultimate place for this bookworm to worship. But occasionally I come across a library that seems more than others, that was the case this time. It was just a little bit more.

Clear background Mike

So my dear readers: Have you ever had a case of library envy? What caused that envy? Was it the service? The catalogue? The location? The way the library worked? What causes the green eyed monster to visit you?


Copyright ©2010 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


Jenny said...

I am very fond of my hometown library, and so far I have never had the opportunity to regularly patronize a library that was better than the one in my home. Not to say that better libraries don't exist, but just that I don't get a sense of a library until I have used it regularly, and the only libraries I have used regularly have been less good than my home one. But in an abstract sense, it's the good nonfiction collections that I envy in better libraries than my home one. I am always wanting nonfiction that my library hasn't got.

Kristen M. said...

Luckily my local library is in a county system where you can request any book from any library (which appears to be *46* libraries right now!). It's been a very rare occurrence when I haven't found what I'm looking for. If I ever move, this will probably be something I miss the most. I need to remember not to take it for granted!

leeswammes said...

The Stockholm library looks a great place to visit (even when you're not borrowing books). Very special.

I had a gigantic case of library envy when I lived in England (envy for just about any library in the Netherlands). The library I went to just wasn't very good. They had a lot of old (worn) books and not many recent books. Just noticing a recent book would mean I'd pick it up, not caring about the genre or anything! :-)

I decided it wasn't worth going to the library there, but I did visit a mobile library for a while. I did so especially for the children, but also picked up some books for myself. Those somehow weren't that bad, although I did read a few more thrillers than I would have liked! :-)

Library Cat said...

Well, I work at an academic library so I go there every day and can get just about any book I want via InterlibraryLoan. But I know it could be better...look better, serve people better, and so on. I wish we were more forward looking.
I used to go to the public book mobile when I was a kid and nothing made me happier than seeing that big green bus drive up. Little did I know that the bookmobile was the best part of our local county library. Serious under-funding.
Thank you for the post and the photos!

Carin B. said...

OK...that library is SUPER AWESOME! I love it. I really liked the architecture in Stockholm--it was very unique so I'm not surprised the library was cool like this. It looks like the Beauty and the Beast library except circular. Nice! Love it!