Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Andrew’s Frustrating Tale of the British Library

September 10, 2009 · No Comments

It occurred to me last night that I have a major lack of research done for my paper. I know that I’m not the only one. As far as I know, only a handful of people have actually paid a visit to the library and gotten their reader card. In case you are one of those folks who haven’t yet gone, this post is directed to you. Military time is used for added European flavor. Read it and know what not to do at the British library.

0900: Leave bright and early with high hopes for a prestigious library.

0902: Return to the Arran House to retrieve my forgotten passport.

0917: Finally arrive at my destination. Almost get hit by a bus crossing the street.

0919: Ask the receptionist where the heck I need to go in the behemoth of a building to get a library card. He responds, simply, “Go upstairs.”

0929: After ten minutes of confused wandering, return back to receptionist for a slightly more specific destination. Feel really stupid after he points to the big sign saying “READER CARD REGISTRATION.”

0931: Proceed to registration area. Sloppily hand receptionist the gazillion documents and forms of identification that I was told to bring. Before I even say a word he asks if I’m American. Typical.

0932: Fill out electronic application. Didn’t run into any problems, for once. Hooray.

0950: Finally called up to complete application process. Clerk is morbidly obese, and flirty.

0951: Turns out all I needed was a passport, a driver’s license, and my Dickinson ID. Feel embarrassed again for bringing so much stuff.

0953: Get picture taken for library card. Clerk compliments me on the picture. I think she was just being nice.

0954: Run into Audrey. Go America.

1000: Sit down at a computer that is clearly not working. Young lady next to me asks if I’m American. Move to another desk on the opposite side of the room.

1015: Successfully locate and compile six or so books that seem pertinent to my topic. Go to enquiries counter to pick up books. Am told to wait 70 minutes for processing. Why 70? Why not 60, or 71 for that matter? Only God knows.

1130: After a delicious visit to Pret a Manger, return to library with revitalized high hopes.

1133: Turns out I didn’t actually request anything and that the last hour was a complete waste of time. Clerk chastises me for not asking for help. Yeah, well, he’s old and has bad teeth. So there.

1145: Receive help from a younger librarian who is familiar with the orthodontist’s office. Am told to wait another 70 minutes.

1330: After getting lost in The Guardian and totally losing track of time, sprint back to library. What if 70 minutes is exceeded? I bet they make you wait 70 more minutes as a penalty.

1333: No penalty for tardiness! Unfortunately, only one book out of six are available. Silently curse the British library system.

1420: Fortunately, the one book is informative. Proceed to copy machine room for much green button pressing pleasure.

1421: 20 pence per page?! That’s highway robbery! Makes me miss Dickinson for its free printing services. Oh, wait…

1430: Ingenious idea for new search terms! Find a book in database called Swingtime in Tottenham. Perfect for a paper on the London Jazz scene! Much rejoicing, followed by grumbling due to yet another 70 minute wait.

1520: After another visit to Pret and a thorough reading of Wired, proceed back to library feeling giddy.

1524: Swingtime in Tottenham is a children’s book. With pictures.

1525-1533: Seethe with anger.

1534: Leave library. See Andrew Ford from the science program across the room on the way out. Go America.

1550: Return to Arran House, thoroughly unfulfilled and sore.

The Moral of the story: For the love of God, no matter how unfriendly or scary the librarians might seem, ASK FOR DIRECTIONS!

Categories: Andrew B

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below..

You must log in to post a comment.