in praise of the UL

Hello again. Oh boy. I would say “where does the time go?” but I know the answer to that really … into looking for jobs and planning to mess about with python and tracking down journal articles. I am tired today – more physically than mentally (for once!). Mostly because I spent a lot of yesterday traipsing around Cambridge with very heavy library books.

But! Yesterday also reminded me of something:

The University Library is a Seriously Awesome Place.

Picture of edges of bookshelves and stacks of books on tables

UL South Wing, Floor 6, Overflow stacks and shelves. Look at all the knowledge ...

When I was an undergraduate, I never used the UL. I never needed to – everything I wanted was either in my College library or the Moore library (which holds the UL’s working collections in maths/physics/astro/engineering/etc). Truth be told, I was a little intimidated by the UL. I always meant to sign up for one of their “introduction to the library” tours but never managed it … I don’t think I ever went in there as an undergrad. But now that I’m a postgrad/staff, and looking up lots more things in journals, I’ve been in a few times.

I still don’t know my way around, really, and I don’t quite feel at home there yet, but wow. Just wow. I mean, libraries in generally are pretty awesome – both as a concept and in practice (although of course some are more awesome than others) – but the UL is something else.

The atmosphere of quiet studying! The desks! The clever use of windows to make the most of natural light! The realisation that you pretty much need a torch if you want to look at the middle of the stacks! The labyrinthine twists and turns … the ancient lift(s?) … the helpful people on the front desk 🙂 … the sensible and convenient locker room … and, of course, the extensive journal availability.

I spent 3 hours there (mostly looking through the International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, if you’re interested). It was a pleasure.

Do you have a favourite library?

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