"To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom....Since our office is with moments, let us husband them."
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Library Labyrinth

Carleton's library is great. I know exactly where it is on campus. I know exactly how to check out books. I know exactly how to do research. And I know exactly who to turn to when I have questions. There is one problem, though. I'm not at Carleton anymore.

This problem has reared its ugly head quite a few times recently, as I have been assigned 4 different papers. Obviously, for these papers I'm having to do some independent research. Luckily, for almost all of them I have been able to make use of the Carleton online resources and ILLIAD (inter library requests), which have made my life a whole lot easier. I've also been able to contact Carleton reference librarians by e-mail to ask questions about where to look for certain information, and they have been incredibly helpful, as always.

Where my real adventure has come is with one paper that has required me to check out books from the Danish Royal Library. This is the library associated with the University of Copenhagen. They have a great website that lets you search their entire collection online, and then request the books -- if they are available -- to be held at one of the branches. This is all in English mind you, too. So I find the books I'm looking for online, and request them to be held at the Amager branch. No problem. A couple days later, after I've been e-mailed and told the books are ready to be picked up, I head over towards the campus after class.

Unusually, on Amager there is an actual University of Copenhagen campus that has a cluster of academic buildings. As I got off the Metro and consulted a map nearby I had a general gestalt of where I was heading. Clearly, as I'm walking I can tell that the University is on my right hand side, but I have no idea where the library is. Eventually, I find an outdoor map, which says the library should be straight ahead. Awesome! I start walking, and then begin to notice that the building straight ahead is under construction (actually being built), and when I get close enough I realize that it is the new library. This, however, does me little good. Being the good man that I am, I refused to ask for directions and continued to wander quite aimlessly around the campus. Eventually, I have a brief recollection of the number 80, in terms of the library's address. I also find a sign that directs me to this address. I feel like its destiny.

Once I reach the entrance of the building, which oddly enough is right by where I started, I am lost again. I'm now in the building that houses the library, but I have no idea where the library is. I look at the directory and map, but no mention of the library. Then I noticed that directly in front of me, through the glass wall, is the library. Great! But how do you get in? I was left with the choice of left or right in terms of which direction to go. For whatever reason I chose right, and wandered down the halls, always turning to keep the library next to me. Eventually I found the entrance, and I was in.

But now what? At first, I was waiting in line to talk to the woman at the information desk, but then realized that they had reserved books stacked alphabetically against the wall. Sure enough, once I found the "L's" I found my stack. So I was now in possession of my books, but had no idea what to do. Were they already checked out? Do I need to check them out? I had no idea. My initial intention was to just leave, but decided that wasn't a correct decision. I then realized that they had self-service checkout kiosks, much like at the grocery store. So I head over to one to check out my books, but have no idea how to use it, even though its in English. I stood there, dumbfounded for a moment, until I gave up and headed back to the information desk, where the woman helped me get squared away.

I have my books, so I'm set right? Wrong. I need to get home, and luckily there's a bus stop that would take me all the way home right outside the entrance. I wait for about 10 minutes for the bus to come, and when I see it off in the distance I head right to the curb to signal I want on. So what happens? The bus drives right by me of course. This led to a 20 minute walk only so that I could take 2 more buses and make my way home. This entire event turned out to be a 2 hour adventure, when it should have really taken 1/2 an hour. At least I know where the Carleton library is.

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