Monday, October 5, 2009
A System. Their system.
Coming from Sarah Lawrence, where the library might as well be listed as a social hotspot on campus, the British Library came as an awakening to the way other libraries work. Striking, to say the least, this library is a behemoth. It is sprawling in the greatest sense of the word, but i have to say that it doesn't look like i so desperately wanted THE. BRITISH. LIBRARY. to look. It's brick. All brick. Not the good old kind of brick though, it's the scary kind of brick. The imposing kind of brick that when you stand next to it feels like it will most certainly topple down on you. And all those marble steps, genius idea in the rainiest of cities. The more i look at pictures of the building the more i don't understand what the architects were thinking. But, now i must digress, because what i really want to talk about is their rules. These aren't just library rules these are THE. BRITISH. LIBRARY. RULES. These are rules for the place that has 150 MILLION items. Million... 25 million of which are books. I can't even fathom that number. And boy are they serious about these 150 million items. You must order your books ahead of time so that when you get there they're waiting for you. None may be checked out. Ever. They must be read in the reading room that you specify. Coats aren't allowed in these reading rooms. They have to be checked along with your bag, and most importantly your pens. No pens allowed. And of course no food, or drinks, especially no gum. Whatever you want with you (that's permitted) must fit in a clear bag that they provide, then check as you enter (and exit) the reading room. So many rules. Such an imposing scary building. The place makes me nervous. It's the opposite of the magical library i see in my dreams.