Posts Tagged With: Libraries

Time to return those library books (Or: No more garbage bins)

It seems as more time goes by that the coronavirus restrictions are being relaxed. The same is true of the Centraal library here in The Hague – you no longer need a pass to enter the library, although you do need a pass if you want to stay and study.

The last time I visited the huge garbage bins were gone, thankfully. You had to throw (or gently place) your returned library books into them. Once full they would remain unopened for four days in case any of the books were infected. Still, there’s something weird about throwing library books into a huge garbage bin so I am glad to see them gone.

In its place, the checkin point is back in service!

terugbrengen = to bring back

In other news:

  • Head of security council protests for right to chant at football matches from dutchnews.nl. I can see his point – there are some fanatical fans here in The Netherlands. The government’s theory is that less screaming and chanting would also mean less potential coronavirus particles in the air. But who knows, maybe I will be surprised. I suspect it will be harder for people to follow this rule as the months go by.
  • Long-distance relationship exempted from Netherlands travel ban from nltimes.nl. Are you in a long-distance relationship with a Dutch citizen or someone here who holds a non-temporary residency permit? Then you can visit for up to 90 days (provided you meet a few other criteria as well), even if you’re from a country that is not currently on the “safe” list, like the United States.
  • Are you in the Netherlands and you’re itching to taste some kruidnoten? Well, they are coming. The first photo of kruidnoten has been posted on Reddit on the /thenetherlands page. (This treat is generally consumed around the Sinterklaas holiday, which falls on 5 December each year. The earliest I’ve seen it so far is the first of August.)
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Slightly brown water (Or: Pond by Centraal train station)

Not far from Centraal Station, and before you reach Malieveld, there is a pond. The water is a bit brown, and there may or may not be honking geese around, but it is a slice of nature nonetheless.

It’s also a bit of a reminder that I should take a different path sometimes. Normally I follow this path until it reaches Malieveld, but on the other side of those trees there’s a deer camp that goes by the name of Koekamp (Dutch Wikipedia). Of course Koekamp translates to cow camp, not deer camp, but okay. The Wikipedia page mentions that this used to be a hunting area full of bovine, with the earliest reference dating back to 1316. The deer took over sometime in the 17th century.

Interesting story I forgot to mention yesterday: I walked past the central library just before 12:00 and was surprised to see four or five people waiting in line by the library entrance. In these corona times the library is closed on Sundays, hence my surprise. I wonder if there was an event going on, but I don’t think so. More likely the first person stood in line and then others walked past, saw the line and thought the library was about to open so they joined too. I hope they weren’t waiting in line for too long!

In other news:

  • Rutte wants to continue as PM but still uncertain; Relaxing Covid rules was “terrifying” from nltimes.nl. That’s Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister. I had not realized there was any doubt that he would run for re-election next March. It also talks about the death of his mother in a nursing home a few months ago during the height of the corona crisis. The strict visitation rules and his workload prevented him from visiting her in her final days. Her death did not leak to the press until two weeks after the fact; he kept it secret so that it would not be a distraction.
  • Beach pavilions cannot operate this winter but can stay standing: Minister from nltimes.nl. The government has struck a compromise with beach pavilion owners: to prevent unnecessary costs pavilions do not need to be dismantled during the winter, although they cannot open to customers. The reason pavilions are normally dismantled is due to winter storms. Any costs due to storms or vandalism would still need to be covered by pavilion owners.
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On a dreary, wet day (Or: Where did the weekend go?)

Rain, rain go away

Come again another day

I think the morning and early afternoon were relatively dry, but how would I know? Work kept me inside sadly. By the time everything got sorted in the late afternoon, the sky was a dark grey and rain was looming. But Marco and I both needed fresh air, so we did not let that stop us. And sure, we got rained on, but at least we got our fresh air…

But in the spirit of that, I’ll share a photo of the Palace Gardens which I took last week:

Lovely blue skies, great temperatures, all you could want without ever having to leave your hometown.

Although that one stray tree branch in the top middle of the photo does look a bit out of place. Anyone have a ladder and a tree cutter?

In other news, The Hague libraries will be opening up a bit more starting tomorrow (1 July), as the Dutch government has relaxed some of the corona measures. Unfortunately it is still only open 12:00-17:00 Monday through Saturday. But you can go there to study, read newspapers, visit the café for coffee and snacks, etc. You can also use library computers for up to 60 minutes per day. See more (in Dutch) at Studeren, uw krantje lezen en meer: veel kan weer!

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Stillness (Or: The reopening of libraries across The Netherlands)

During the national press conference on 6 May, Prime Minister Rutte said that libraries would be able to re-open from 11 May provided visitors follow social distancing rules and limit the number of visitors at one time. This was welcome news since the original ruling was that libraries would be closed until (at least) 25 May.

The Hague libraries are now open under the following rules: you can lend books, pick up reservations and get help at the customer service desk. However, you can’t work or study at the library, you can’t use the computers or printers and the bathroom facilities are closed. Last week the central library in the city centre was also only open for returning books and picking up (existing) reservations, unlike other branches which were immediately open for lending books as well. However, since this week it is also possible to lend books at the central library. I visited on Tuesday to turn in the four books I had and to check out more.

If you’re just there to return books or DVDs, you can actually turn them in outside. I don’t have a photo of it, but you actually turn them in by placing them in a large garbage container (Oh, the horror! putting books in a garbage container! It’s obviously clean, though.) The books are then kept in the container for three days before they are disinfected as much as possible and returned to circulation. On the fourth day you can check and make sure that the books disappeared from your account. Which means I can check my account on Saturday to make sure they are gone.

If you want to check out books, you can get into line to go inside. While practicing social distancing of course. You enter through the side door, which is normally used for patrons who can’t enter through the revolving door. When you exit you do use the revolving door to leave.

But very cool: when you enter you get a huge bookmark. That’s how the library is able to control how many patrons are inside. I love the theming.

The giant bookmark says: Welcome, we are happy to see you! Our doors are opened for limited services. Please return this bookmark (boekenlegger) when you leave the library.

I checked out two books which have been on my to read list for a long time: Oracle Night by Paul Auster in English and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King in Dutch. They have been on my to read list since September and December 2018 respectively.

I was pretty impressed by everything that the library staff had done to prepare for the re-opening – there were signs everywhere. I wasn’t prepared for how quiet everything was, though. No one studying, no one talking. There were less people using the escalators which meant they were mostly inactive and making less noise. There were people around, of course. But it wasn’t the same.

As noted, studying and using the computers or printers isn’t allowed at the moment so there was a lot of furniture stacked along the sides, covered in caution tape.

I believe this computer was not in use because it is too close to the self-checkout computer shown in the background. These computers are used for searching the library catalog. There were still a few available to use, though.

I must admit part of me wanted to keep the bookmark as a souvenir of these crazy times. I did not, however. You turn it in right before exiting through the revolving doors, handing it over to a staff member who meticulously disinfects it before handing it back to the staff at the entrance. And then the next person is allowed in, happy to check out some new reading material.

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What do you miss most? (Or: An ode to libraries)

As mentioned in a previous post, the “intelligent lockdown” rules have been extended through 20 May, with a few exceptions for children. Unfortunately this means that The Hague public libraries have extended their closure date through Sunday, 24 May with a hopeful reopening on Monday, 25 May. Good news: the free-even-for-non-members app “ThuisBieb” (Home Library) with around 100 e-books can now be used through 1 June. Read away!

I also mentioned in a previous post that I love the online library service (onlinebibliotheek.nl) and have already used their E-books app for one book, The Traveling Cat Chronicles (review from theguardian.com). I have since moved on to another book, Where’d you go, Bernadette, which is a completely different type of book, and not just because of the subject matter. The book is made up of emails, invoices, memos, letters – written by different characters that know Bernadette. It’s good, although work is a bit more taxing the last few days so I haven’t been reading as much as I could be at night.

Online is good, but there’s something to be said about the feel of printed pages and the random things you find which could loosely be labelled as “bookmarks”. In my case the last “bookmark” I found was a pressed purple flower. Or I think about browsing through the stacks, having a coffee downstairs in the café…

If anyone from the library world is reading this, just know that I’m taking good care of the four books I have in my possession until I can return them again. (And seriously, if I had known I would have checked out another five at least!)

You never know what you miss until you don’t have it anymore. What are you missing because of this current situation?

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Onlinebibliotheek.nl (Or: The library is open! Virtually)

As one might (unfortunately) expect, all of the public libraries in The Hague are closed. Libraries are something you definitely miss when you don’t have them anymore!

Luckily there is a solution to my current problem, and not just reading the handful of books I have lying around the house already, either. E-books can also be downloaded at onlinebibliotheek.nl and read either on your computer, via an app on your phone or tablet, or via your e-reader. You have three weeks to read the book, after which they are removed from your device and you need to download them again. Note: most titles are in Dutch, although there is a bit of English in the mix.

eBooks app – for members with a Dutch library card number or a subscription to onlinebibliotheek.nl. As noted there is a bit of English titles here, but it is mostly Dutch.

LuisterBieb app – audiobooks; for members with a Dutch library card number or a subscription to onlinebibliotheek.nl. A select number are also available for those without a membership.

ThuisBieb app – this app has about 100 titles for adults and 100 titles for children – it’s free for everyone, but everything is in Dutch.

It was really simple to download my first eBook – I simply entered my library card number on the website to make an account, found a book, downloaded the eBooks app, entered my login details one more time, and started reading.

I chose “The traveling cat chronicles” in Dutch, and just finished it last night. It’s a great story about a cat and his owner going on road trips so that the owner can find a new person to take care of his cat. Each chapter features a different road trip and has a flashback about how the owner met each of these friends during his school years. After the flashback, the chapter returns to present times and you move to the cat’s point of view again for the rest of the chapter.

Warning: a box of tissues is a good thing to have around for this one.

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Stuck inside? (Or: Libraries are still the answer)

Similar to the photo I posted yesterday, one of the rotating advertisements on the digital advertisement boards is for onlinebibliotheek.nl.

The advertisement says “If you can’t go outside, you can still bring the world inside, right? … Visit (online) your bookstore or go to onlinebibliotheek.nl”.

Luckily the library here in The Hague says no fines until 13 April due to all of the branches being closed They ask that you hold onto the items you have checked out for now. Like a typical book junkie, I only wish I had realized in advance that all of the library branches would be closed so that I could check out more books in the meantime. I suspect the libraries won’t reopen on 6 April, especially considering the new rules that the Netherlands is taking to enforce social distancing.

Right now I am reading The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin, in Dutch. If I am honest with myself, I have plenty to read after that, books that I already own (including Magic Journey: My Fantastical Walt Disney Imagineering Career by Kevin Rafferty). But there is just something about getting a library book and cracking open the binding for the first time…

Sometimes you get lucky and someone who had the book before leaves a checkout receipt inside or a bookmark or something like that. The last book I checked out from the library had a pressed flower inside that was presumably used as a bookmark. With little purple flowers.

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The fables of Jean de la Fontaine (Or: Exhibition at the Central Library)

From now through April 1st, there is an exhibition (De Raaf, de Vos en Kornuiten) going on at the Central Library. That translates as The raven, the fox, and his mates. The exhibition covers the work of Jean de la Fontaine, a French fabulist.

The header translates as “A lesson in behavior”. The beginning of the text reads: “A fable is a short story or poem with a moral. The intent is to both amuse you and to teach you something. You can think of the moral as the soul of the fable…”

The fables shown in the library were translated by Rob Scholten while Carlijn van Vlijmen worked on the illustrations.

“The monkey and the dolphin”
“The wolf and the dog”

As mentioned, the exhibit runs through April 1st and can be seen on the first floor of the Central Library, next to the escalators.

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Girl with the pearl earring (Or: Keychain at VVV The Hague)

Over at VVV tourist information office, on the ground floor of the Central Library, you can find a rather special looking keychain of ‘Girl with the pearl earring’:

Girl with the pearl earring key chain at VVV The Hague

It looks pretty cool, although I can’t help but think she looks a bit annoyed at someone (in my opinion the shape of the dark brown eye piece makes it look like she is frowning).

Here’s a look at the actual painting on Wikipedia to compare.

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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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