Visiting Libraries

Korean National Library
Originally uploaded by Helen K

Previous holiday blog readers will be wondering if we have visited any libraries yet. Well despite the lack of being able to read Japanese or Korean.. we’ve seen the inside of three.

The first was the public library in Hiroshima, then the public library in Fukuoka, and the third was the National Library of Korea.

Thankfully both public libraries were marked on the tourist map (makes you wonder doesn’t it). While going to the one in Fukuoka there was a wind storm, which made walking very difficult and we only had 10 minutes before it closed.

The Public Library in Hiroshima is in bad need of a face lift and some care. Nothing like 70’s lino to make the place look great. There were a number of men reading newspapers (doesn’t change anywhere in the world!), and mostly women selecting books from the shelves. Now compare this to the library in Fukuoka… While it was closing, it was a very impressive 3 story building. Huge entrance foyer, theatre attched, a number of self-checkout machines, public computer access and lots of wood used around the whole library. Definately a library that has had some money spent on its space.

The National Library of Korea was a little tougher to get inside have a look around than you might expect. Entry is by a smart card, one pass that has RFID. To get the card we had to complete an on-line registration form, in a registration office. This was not as easy as it sounds – given the complete lack of Korean speaking ability on our part!

The library is undergoing building works, and a number of areas used by the public have been upgraded inside (although not the walkways between the different sections). The first floor space is pretty speccy, where people use books requested from storage and computers. I didnt take many photos either – too many people and CCTV camereas. It will be great to see this place when it is finished.

Back in KL again….

Nearly home. Back in KL, much like Langkawi, it was hot and humid. I can cope with the heat, but not too well with the humidity. Thankfully we are now at the airport waiting for the flight for home.

Here’s a tip – becareful of purchasing shoulder bags in India. The dye is likely the run. I discovered this after using a green bag we bought in India. Now I have a nice patch of green across the middle of my white shirt.

On our last day we woke up late (9am ish) enjoyed the buffet breakfast, and had roti with curry for the last time. Also had an omlette, toast, tea and fruit. It sounds like a lot – but it wasn’t really.

Then we caught a taxi to the National Library – only because no direct public transport that tourists can work out reach there! Unfortunately again, you are not allowed to take photos. Sigh. Like most state libraries, you have to leave large bags in te bag room – outside and downstairs. Once you enter the library there is an Information counter and a registration counter. However these are behind glass windows, and everyone has to take a ticket and wait patiently on seats in front. To amuse the children (because it is a reference library) in the foyer it has a TV that is predominately being wacthed by children. To actually access the library you go through a security gate and round the corner and up some stairs. First floor is the periodicals (I had a look at the Malayasian Library journal), second is non-fiction and third are more periodicals. But the re-shelving – is huge! On the tables apart from signage telling you to be quiet, they also ask you to put books back on the trolley. However in one section the study tables are full of books that need re-shelving, as too are the trolleys! Glad I don’t work there.

There is also a Children’s Library – that children can borrow. It is a very large space, again with lots of books on the floor, tops of shelves etc. It is very well used – which is good to see.

While I know that this all sounds wonderful, and your thinking it must be a good looking library, it is not. There are also buckets in the foyer (it was raining yesterday), and water leaks are all over the floor from the air-con units. I only managed to take a photo of the entrance through the front door – but will post when I get home.

KL Shopping

Frankly it is hard to believe that there are so many shopping choices in KL.Currently we’re in one of the many shopping malls in the Bukit Bintang area. Although this one is firmly aimed at the locals. There is no Gucci, Dunhill, Louis Vuitton, Porsche Design, Dior etc etc there is plenty of cheap computer shops, cheap clothing shops, tailors etc. On the top floor is the trendy zone for teenages. Frankly it works and is something that could easily be emulated on the top floor of that white elephant Myer Centre.

Around the corner from this excessively fast internet cafe, hopefully Helen is uploading some more photos fo you, is the Roller Sports – roller skating rink and cafe. Given my record I decided not to try and roller skate again!!

After this we’re heading off to the National Library… They probably won’t let us in – but these are the things you do to keep the other half happy while on holiday. If you’re lucky enough you will see some photos.

Card Catalogues Never Die

Library Gunzel Strikes Again
Originally uploaded by kdt.

No overseas holiday is possible without a visit to a library – or photos. However, I must admit that this has not been easy.

When in Jaipur we followed our guides advice that the library was open at 4pm… and presto went back and it wasn’t open on the day we were there (more on this guide later). However I did take a photo of a shut door – that that the sign age is helpful to anyone.

Next we visited the David Sassoon Library in Mumbai… unfortunately I was not allowed to take any photos. We also visited the Asiatic Society of Bombay Library, and Mumbai’s State Central Library (again no photos -darn!). Which is really disappointing as they still use the old subscriber system, and card catalogues. All the books are kept in glass wooden cabinets, and magazines are often pilled on the floor. Buildings are dusty, and not in the best condition – which is really depressing. If you are expecting to see a computer in these institutions… forget it!

The picture here is taken at the Library in the Mani Bhavan, the building where the Mahatma Gandhi stayed during his visits to Bombay. Grace – many thanks for the recommendation it was great! Like the other libraries visited.. lots of card catalogues – and don’t expect them to comply to cataloging standards. Your basic title, author and if you are lucky year of publication and location. Visiting these places really makes you appreciate the libraries in which we work.

(Helen edited this text)