Posts Tagged With: Libraries

Another lazy library day (Or: On to the next book)

What can I say? Sitting in the library café in the morning sipping an iced coffee is the best.

Reading Haruki Murakami at the library

A lovely Saturday morning at the library

This morning I finished part 2 of Haruki Murakami’s Killing Commendatorea book first mentioned in the last post. It is about a painter, estranged from his wife and temporarily living in an old house in the mountains as its caretaker. The original owner, famed painter Amada Tomohiko, suffers from dementia and resides in a nursing home.

The story unfolds with the ringing of a bell… the simple ringing of a bell. Somehow ringing from beneath a burial mound, beneath countless immovable rocks, at the edge of an old shrine. But when the bell is dug up by the narrator and his rich neighbor, strange events begin to occur and Amada Tomohiko’s past is uncovered, bit by bit. Sweeping the narrator up in its wake.

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Categories: Reading | Tags: , | 2 Comments

3rd wedding anniversary (Or: A stay at nhow Rotterdam hotel)

Last week Marco and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary at the nhow hotel in Rotterdam (Dutch | English). The hotel was designed by Rem Koolhaas and currently holds the title of the largest building in the Netherlands (at 160,000 square meters).

nhow-hotel-rotterdam-and-erasmus-bridge

Our room ended up being in the lower left building, in the upper left corner on the 23rd floor.

Where we were going and where we were staying was a surprise on my part – Marco only knew that it was a city in the Netherlands and we would be spending one night in a hotel.

rotterdam-centraal

Rotterdam Centraal, the train station. We ended up taking the new metro line E from Den Haag Centraal to Rotterdam Centraal, but that is for another blog post. 🙂

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It must be almost summer (Or: Iced coffes galore)

This will be a very coffee-themed post… It’s almost summer (maybe) so it is a lot more fun to drink iced coffees. First up we have a frappé from the library café, Bibliotheek Den Haag. I found it so tasty I had to struggle not to drink it all up within 30 seconds.

Iced coffee at Bibliotheek Den Haag

Second we have a Starbucks drink from a coworker (her blog and her Instagram). After a while it gets old just writing your name on the side, so these days the Starbucks workers write random messages on the side. It’s raining men… and coffee!

Its raining men Starbucks cup

Next we have a summery mural from the Eat Company from the artist Sophia den Breems. I’ve previously blogged about the Spring 2016 mural here.

Summer 2016 mural by Eat Company The Hague

Finally, the latest discovery… iced chai tea by Kaldi! It’s hidden away in the Haagsche Bluf. It’s the drink on the left, next to Marco’s iced cappuccino. It was delicious, a slightly thicker concoction with the chai tea taste at the end.Iced cappuccino and iced chai tea at Kaldi The Hague 2

 

 

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A time lapse of Grote Marktstraat (And: Some Boston photos)

Last year Gemeente Den Haag (e.g. city hall) created a video showing a time lapse of the construction around the Grote Marktstraat. It is just under 3 minutes long. Among other places, it can be found on YouTube. It’s kind of cool to look back and remember all the craziness the construction caused…

Grote Markstraat is the large shopping street in The Hague which has been under construction for the last few years. There is an event on Thursday night (Den Haag verlicht) to mark the completion. The final act will be turning on the lights (literally – the lights were just hung up last week). They will be turned on around 20.45. There will also be music, dancers, DJs, drum bands and food trucks. Oh, and the shops are open until 22.00 (although on Thursdays they are usually open until 21.00 anyway).

And here are some more photos from Boston. The first is a sculpture found in Boston Common, Make Way for Ducklings:

Make way for ducklings

And a photo of the Boston public library:

Boston public library entrance

We also went to the JFK Presidential Library (well, we just went to the museum). It was a lot of fun, and now I can say I’ve visited a presidential library!

JFK presidential library and museum

And a look at the JFK presidential library from inside:

Inside JFK presidential library and museum

After that we visited the Edward M. Kennedy Institute which is a building right next to the JFK library. The institute was opened to the public last year and is used to teach the public about the inner workings of the senate. It includes a to-scale replica of the Senate Chambers where mock votes are held every hour for visitors to participate in (our mock vote was regarding the minimum wage law currently in consideration). The replica chambers sit in the middle with displays around it. Since it was just completed, tablets are used to provide additional information and to interact with the displays.  It’s quite modern.

Until next time!

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A world of books (Or: A new library card)

It is time to renew my library card. Over here in the Netherlands, library card fees are not part your property taxes so you have to pay for one separately. On the plus side, it is pretty inexpensive to get a library card – children’s passes are free, with additional discounts based on age (it’s cheaper if you are 18 to 25 or over 65, for instance).

I’ve always been in love with libraries. I can still remember as a kid checking out 15-20 Hardy Boys mystery books at a time (I never got into the Nancy Drew mystery books, unfortunately). And amazingly, not having that many late books. After that I moved on to the Science fiction / fantasy books section for adults, so my time in the children’s department was over.

Here in the Netherlands I’ve had a basic pass for the last three years – I remember feeling antsy waiting for enough identification proof to come in to be able to get one (like in the US, you need to prove you live where you say you live, so I needed to wait for something to be mailed to me with my name and address on it).

This year, I decided to go with one of the options above the basic one. I went with a Sterpas (Star pass):

Sterpas library card (The Hague)

The main difference is how many books you can check out at a time (12 books versus 18) and how long you can have them (3 weeks versus 4, with two renewals regardless of your card type). To be honest, it’s not like I ever expect to need more than 12 books at a time – I’m not a kid anymore – but the four weeks lending period is nice. There’s a few other benefits, like maximum 18 free reservations (yes, it’s not free in this country like it might be in parts of the US) and free movies/games/etc, rather than paying a euro and a half per piece.

Sterpas library card (The Hague) and website

Library card with the library website behind it

If you’re living in the Netherlands and looking to learn Dutch, keep in mind the Central Library of The Hague has a pretty big collection to help you out. It’s now on the 2nd floor, by the escalators. I’ve previously written about the “Leer Nederlands” collection.

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Taalhuis (Of: Bij de Centrale bibliotheek in Den Haag)

Earlier this year the Dutch books moved from the 4th floor of the Central library to the second floor. I was recently on the library’s website and came across a mention of the Taalhuis (“Language house”). Someone is available for a few hours on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Here is the linked article translated in English:

Taalhuis

Difficulty with reading, writing or speaking the Dutch language? Stop by the Taalhouse on the second floor of the Centrale bibliotheek. Here you can find books, cd-roms and practice material to help you. During the consultation hours there is someone available to help you with questions. You are welcome to stop by.

What does the Taalhuis do?

If you need help with learning how to read or write the Dutch language better, you can come to the Taalhuis. Volunteers can support you by finding the right information about language courses or education in The Hague. But the Taalhuis also has a collection available to help you with self study: study material to learn reading and writing the language better. Or to help someone else with improving their language abilities. The collection in the Taalhuis is available during the opening hours of the Centrale bibliotheek. Only during the consultation hours is someone available to help you with finding a course that works best for you.

Consultation hours
Tuesday from 11.00 – 13.30 hours
Thursday from 13.00 – 15.30 hours

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Learning Dutch for adults (Or: At the library)

When an adult learns a new language they are at a disadvantage compared to children. Kids tend to learn languages much faster the younger they are. In addition, when kids move to the Netherlands they will likely attend a Dutch speaking school, or at least a bilingual school. Children also have the advantage of making less mistakes later – I have heard that even the best learners of Dutch will still make mistakes with de/het (the) even after 30-40 years. Some things you truly need to learn from a young age.

That’s where libraries come in – they can help close the gap between how fast children and adults learn languages, though it is not perfect.

The first thing to tell you yourself is that it is okay to make use of the children’s section for the first year. For instance, the Centraal Bibliotheek (Central Library) in The Hague allows adults to browse children’s books – the only rule is that the study desks are for children and adults are asked to study somewhere else.

I will now explain the book classification system in use in the Netherlands, which can be found on the spine of a book. Look for stickers with these letters:

AP – books for toddlers. These include board books (made of material that is more durable for toddlers who like to chew on books), “soft” books that feel nice to the touch, picture books, and the very beginning books. It will also include the most basic dictionaries like “Mijn Eerste Van Dale” (My First Van Dale; Van Dale is a very popular dictionary.) Be careful though – some picture books will still have a lot of words on the page because it is intended that the parent reads to the child.

AK – books for preschoolers. These books are a bit harder. Again, it is assumed that parents will be helping so sometimes the language is still hard.

******* Learning to Read

E/M books (avi-niveau) – these are the books to help children learn to read. They are usually very thin and can generally be read alone. They have their own system, largely based around what group you are in. In America you are in “grades”, here you are in “groups” (see also this Wikipedia article). In general the system is either M (for ‘middle of the group’ ) or E (for ‘end of the group’) followed by the group number. Google “avi niveau boeken” for more information.

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Categories: Reading | Tags: , | 2 Comments

AVI niveaus (Or: Reading levels for kids)

I finally sat down and tried to figure out how a certain set of books we own in our neighborhood library works. I knew that they correspond to reading levels for the kids, but I didn’t quite know how. To the untrained eye the system would definitely look out of order – for instance the books in our library are in order by M3, E3, M4, E4, M5, and E5. (It’s quite possible that they could have been out of order, as I ended up putting all of the comic books in order when I arrived.) But no, it’s quite intended.

I looked up the reading system (AVI niveau) on the internet. The number refers to the groep (grade) that the student is in, with groep 1 being 4 or 5 years old. The ‘M’ refers to them being in the  middel/middle of their reading level and the ‘E’ refers to einde/end of the reading level. Thus on average a groep 4 student might be reading E3, M4, or E4 books.

avi conversietabel

AVI conversion table from the old (oud) system to the new (nieuw) system, with the leerjaar/groep number on the side.

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Blue (Or: Painting at the Centrale Bibliotheek)

I saw this painting on display a few weeks ago at the Central Library in The Hague.

The crazy thing is you don’t see the “hidden” elements unless you are quite close by. Otherwise it just looks like blue with a hint of red.

painting at Centrale Bibliotheek

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Window paintings (Or: Dutch children’s library)

I decided to take a few photos of the windows at the library where I work. It’s a small library staffed by volunteers, after the much larger neighborhood library had to close due to budgetary reasons. But at least this way the children have somewhere close by to check out books.

window decorations in a Dutch library

window art in a Dutch library

window paintings in a Dutch library

It is a bit hard to see from this angle, but in the right window you have a large green ‘B’ (since the word for library in Dutch is bibliotheek). The B is made up of lots of smaller Bs – look at the top to see it best.

A few random Dutch words I learned today:

coloring page = kleurplaat

glitter = glitter (spelled the same, but with the hardcore ‘g’ guttural sound)

I must also admit that the window above does not convey the prettiness of the yards (tuinen) outside the window. Very green!

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