On Poetry and Culture Shock

On libraries, again

Two culture shock entries in a row, one about holidays and another about inefficiency. And then I will expect foreign people not to believe stereotypes about Southern Spain!

As I must have said before, Seville University doesn't have a library, but dozens. There are School Libraries, one for each different school of course, and then there are department libraries. A department is a section in a school: for example, the Medieval History dept in the History School, the Civil Law dept in the Law School, and so on. Not all departments have libraries. All university students can borrow books from all the school libraries, but you need to belong to a certain school to borrow books from department libraries. For example, that means that the books in the English dept library are for Languages students only. I could borrow books from the Psychology School library but not from any Psych department library.

This alone would be enough reason to be mad at the system. There's more. The English Dept Library catalog is online, but that's the only thing that is. I need a special library card that is useless in the rest of the university system. The books appear on the online catalog always as "available", because when they are borrowed, filing is manual. Yes. Little paper library cards on a cardboard box.

So. If you need a book from that library, you will have to go at an inconvenient hour (the library opeens three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon, at times when the students are busiest). Wait to use the only computer that students are allowed to use. Find out the code of the book you already know you need: the online catalog doesn't have a keyword search AND students are not allowed to browse shelves. Once you know the code, the librarian will look for the book for you, if it hasn't been already taken. Then he will give you a slip of paper for each book, in which you will have to write the book's internal code, the number next to the barcode (even if the barcode system is a decoration until they get a barcode scanner), AND the book's title and author. Even though they have a file with your name and data and a library number, you have to write you name and phone number and Student ID number too. One slip per book.

Then, if you are an undergrad, you can borrow two books for a week, maximum (back in my last year as an undergrad, I had to work for professors that demanded three times as many sources quoted in an essay). I, as a grad student, can borrow the tremendous amount of five books for two weeks. And two weeks before Christmas holidays start, the librarian does not know if the holidays will automatically extend all late December borrowing until January 10th, or not.

Can someone remind me what was it that I liked about being a student at this University?

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