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…
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.)
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.
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!