The Hague’s central library currently has an exhibition entitled “Tekenen in Vrijheid?!” or “Freedom to draw”, where political cartoons from different parts of the world are on display. The exhibition also celebrates 75 years of freedom (since WWII) and the United Nations’ 75th anniversary (special website at un.org). The exhibition is available through 17 June and can be found on the 2nd floor, near the escalators.
The news outlets reported some really good news last night. During the corona debate, the prime minister agreed that it was unfair that you could buy a book from a bookstore but not loan one from a library. Bookstores reopened under step 1 of the re-opening plan, but libraries were not scheduled to open until step 3. That step is tentatively scheduled for 9 June. Therefore the government agreed that if the numbers allow it, libraries could also open next week in step 2.
The Hague’s library system confirmed that they would open from Thursday, May 20 if step 2 is allowed to go ahead:
I am just hoping to be able to check out books (in an appropriate socially distanced manner, of course) but I am sure a lot of patrons are hoping that they would be able to go to the library to study. This was a possibility before the libraries closed in December, if you had a reservation in advance.
And another space-related article: Chinese rocket’s chaotic fall to Earth highlights problem of space junk from the guardian.com. Experts have no idea where it will land – anywhere in the southern hemisphere is currently a possibility. You can follow its path from orbit.ing-now.com. They predict it will crash in the next 12 hours. Its current speed as it spins around the earth is 26,183km/h (17,518 mph). Yikes! Oh, and did I mention this rocket is about 100 feet tall and weighs 22 tons? Here is hoping it either burns up in the atmosphere or lands in an ocean somewhere.
Today’s dinner menu? Saté with rice and peanut sauce, pickled peppers/onions and kroepoek. Saté is the one meal Marco and I made in America for my family (we stowed away the most important ingredients in our suitcases). Tasty stuff.
I can relate to this:
Hopefully in June I can go to the library and check out (physical) books again!
The Central Library of The Hague (English website) is currently closed due to the lockdown. They are a bit more pragmatic than my hairdressers – they at least use terms like “closed until further notice” and “you can no longer visit until at least 9 February 2021”. Pragmatic because who knows when libraries will open again, and pragmatic because at least they don’t need to update the website again and again as the lockdown is extended. On the other side of the spectrum my hairdresser emailed to say “We are open from 10 February!” although they did also say all appointments would be cancelled automatically if they had to stay closed, so there was no risk to you.
This afternoon I requested a few hours leave. Marco and I took a walk – probably the first decent walk together in at least a month – and I snapped this photo of the central library café:
As you can see a few stuffed animals were allowed to enter the library even if humans can’t. I can imagine they were waiting for cups of chocolate milk. The character on the right is Nijntje (in English her name is Miffy, see also the English Wikipedia article). She also has her own official website: miffy.com. The character in the middle is a stork, which appears in a lot of The Hague imagery, including in its coat of arms (English Wikipedia). I assume the stuffed animal on the left is simply a rabbit, but who knows. Maybe that is a famous character as well.
The Hague’s library system has limited options for alternative service during the lockdown which will last until (at least) 19 January.
Patrons who are aged 70 or older can request a one-off delivery of up to 6 chosen titles (including up to 1 DVD). The books will come from the Central Library and the patron can also request a genre instead of specific titles or write ‘no preference’ in the title field. There is a message in fine print saying the library understands that filling out a form online is not always the easiest thing for this age group to do, but they hope that relatives might be able to help out with filling in the form.
All library patrons can fill out a form to request a bag of 5 books. In this case it is based on genre, not specific titles. Perhaps you might find an unexpectedly awesome book this way. The patron can then pick up the bag at one of the neighborhood libraries (but not at the Central Library). The books will come from the same library where the pickup will occur.
The library also offers some online activities via a service called Bieb070@Home. (Bieb = Library. 070 = area code for The Hague.) The list of upcoming events includes a video of an online Christmas concert by the group “On The Jazz”, an interview in January with the city’s archeologist (yes, we have an archeologist) and more.
The Hague’s library system has also been heavily promoting the option of checking out e-books and audio books as well via their recently renewed Online Bibliotheekor “Online library” app. The only downside is that most of the books are in Dutch, but I found it pretty easy to use when I looked at it a few months back.
I can’t believe we’re almost at Christmas already… insane!
Libraries (and museums, theaters, cinemas, etc.) are currently closed in the Netherlands. It is part of an additional set of corona measures that the Dutch government has taken to lower the number of hospitalizations. (The government did provide an exception for libraries to be open for picking up reservations and book deliveries, but The Hague has chosen not to do this.)
I decided to take a photo of the sign at The Hague’s Central Library (Unfortunately we are temporarily closed). Boo!
But I am nothing if not prepared (having heard the rumors of an impending closure on Sunday evening):
Partially because I told myself that if I thought another library closure was coming I would check out additional books. And partially because I don’t expect these extra measures to be lifted after two weeks – even though the prime minister said it would automatically be lifted after that time.
Unfortunately the balance of Dutch versus English books is a bit skewed (1 novel in Dutch versus 4 novels in English). But that happens when you go to the library during a work break and some of the books you wanted to check out aren’t on the shelf. I had to quickly grab some backups after consulting my Goodreads list.
Plans for redesigning the interior of The Hague’s Central Library made the news recently. The building which houses the library and the city hall celebrated its 25th anniversary last month. it was opened by then Queen Beatrix on 8 September 1995. It’s an interesting building, having been given the nickname Ijspaleis (Ice palace) by locals.
The original architect (American Richard Meier) knew exactly what he wanted and didn’t want any changes at all, which is why a plan to redesign the interior is so surprising. But the architects in charge of this project admit problems with the design – the entrance is hidden and it looks more like an office than a library. I definitely agree with that!
The redesign will focus on the entrance, the café and the children’s area. There will also be a new debate space on the fifth and sixth floors and a rooftop terrace. Actually, I think there is a terrace already but it’s not in use at the moment.
Earlier in September, Marco and I visited one of the local Bagels & Beans cafés to enjoy a lunch outside. It was a bit cold, but doable as long as I kept my jacket on. It was probably my first visit in 2020, although admittedly we usually only go a few times a year. Check out our chai lattes:
I always loved these plates, and pretty much forgot about them until I saw our coffees. I also had a bagel with butter and chocolate sprinkles, but I was decidedly not Dutch about it. If you’re Dutch, you spread on the butter and then pour the sprinkles on top. The butter is mainly there to help keep the sprinkles from falling off while you take a bite. I have no interest in butter and chocolate together, so I instead simply alternated which one I put on my bagel. Which did mean I sadly had some chocolate sprinkles left over, but c’est la vie.
It definitely showed that I haven’t been to a Bagels & Beans in a while. I forgot that you need to pay inside. Which worked on in the end, since we were also asked to leave our contact details for corona purposes. Unlike other places (with a QR code you scan) you simply wrote your details in a notebook with a pen.
In other news, The Hague library no longer requires online registration before visiting the library (article in Dutch from the library website). The rule only lasted about two days, but was temporarily required after the press conference last Monday. A few days later the library received status in The Hague’s emergency ordinance as a doorstroomlocatie, or basically a place where people walk through it to experience something or get something (museums, monuments and attraction parks are other examples). This was probably for the best, since the link above mentions that there were long lines outside of people waiting to get in. Face masks are still urgently advised the library, like all public indoor locations in the Netherlands.
Here is your Awww moment for the day. The first color photos of the panda cub born earlier this year in a Dutch zoo are available:
The panda definitely knows how to pose for the camera.
Since 18:00 this evening residents of The Hague have been strongly advised (but not legally required) to wear a face mask when inside a shop. When I went to Albert Heijn this morning I would say about 60% of those I saw in the store were wearing a mask, even though it wasn’t 18:00 yet.
This does put retail in a tough position. Bijenkorf (a high-end department store) has said they will require face masks in the larger cities where the advisory is in place. Most shops have declined to do so at the moment, however. It is asking a lot of workers to also control face mask usage. The stores would prefer that the government adjusts the law so that it is legally required across the country. At the moment the law does not support the government forcing its citizens to wearing a face mask; it can be challenged in court.
More and more cabinet members are in favor of requiring face masks across the country, versus the regional measures that are in place now. NOS.nl has this article in Dutch: Steeds meer stemmen in Tweede Kamer voor mondkapjesplicht (More and more politicians in the House of Representatives are in favor of a face mask requirement). I think the government will wait and see what the effects are for the recent measures first before adding new ones, however. It depends on how the country is doing in about 10-14 days.
The Dutch ministry of Health has also released their weekly Covid-19 statistics – see more at rivm.nl in English. It is to be expected. For instance there were 19,326 cases in the last week compared to 13,471 cases in the week before that.
Being the book nerd that I am, I am happy to read that The Hague’s Central Library would go back to its normal opening hours starting tomorrow, 31 August. The library branches in Escamp, Scheveningen and Segbroek will also have their normal opening hours from tomorrow. The rest of the libraries will hopefully go back to their normal opening times in the beginning of October.
Personally, I’m quite happy about this, as I used to make a quick trip to the library after work. But with the corona opening hours being 12:00-17:00 Monday-Saturday, this usually wasn’t possible. And something always came up to prevent me from going on Saturday…