Posts Tagged With: Libraries

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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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. 🙂

Continue reading

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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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