lunedì, febbraio 06, 2012


You know what's awesome? University libraries. And I say that as someone who is going to Griffiths, which frankly doesn't have a great library. What it does have is a wealth of periodicals I can access (or at least it feels like a wealth after not having accessed periodicals in a long time) and then read on my none-too-snazzy new e-reader. Fuck the normal internet; this is really what it's all about. Nearly instant access to articles about wildly specific subjects written by insanely specialized experts for the scrutiny of other experts. It is ace. I can just decide what I want to learn about and then learn about it from an article that's been adequately subedited and researched to the point of ridiculousness. Yesterday I downloaded a bunch of articles about Calabria: Neolithic settlement of, folk remedies for malaria in, ancient obsidian trade in . . . marvellous.

And I can do that about whatever I want. Griffiths actually has a bit of shit book collection, physical or e, or at least I'm assuming they do based on them not having had a few specific books I want that aren't exactly obscure or nutty. But I guess they struck some sort of deal with some e-periodical suppliers and that is a whole fucking universe of knowledge for my greedy brain.

Having access to periodicals again since I was working on my master's thesis, when I was too busy to read anything that wasn't about the coursework, has been a reminder to me that the normal internet is actually a bit shit. It feels like we have all this terrific information at our disposal as normal people, but so much of the good stuff is hidden behind paywalls and permissions and all the rest of it. It gives me pause. It's like a two-tier knowledge society.

The e-reader, by the way, is fab. Having it is like having moved back to a real city in terms of the access to books it gives me, and I went for a cheap one, so it's actually nice to read - not shiny. It's a Kobo Touch and I've got no complaints - clear, easy to use, etc. It hasn't yet replaced real books for me, but I LOVE it for access to the library material and also for access to books that there's no way I could get in fucking L---- - French books. My French output is pretty crap but as soon as I open a French book I can slip into the stream of the language without any bother, and love reading it. I can't do that with any other languages besides English - even though I think my Italian is better in some ways that my French, I find literary Italian bloody tedious. It's not a problem understanding it, but it's a problem reading it - I find it exhausting. It doesn't sound like the way people speak. And Mandarin - hah hah. I'm wildly proud if I can make out the basic gist of what a sign is about. I do wonder and hope if I'll ever move past that.

5 commenti:

e.f. bartlam ha detto...

One of the real tangible benefits of the schools I attended was the libraries. One of my favorite places on earth...located in the middle of one of the most wretched places on MUDD library. The second floor is full of unpublished memoirs and 19th century journals and periodicals.

I loved that place.

Who knows...maybe some day they'll get around to digitizing it all but, I imagine it would pretty low on the priority list.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

What in heaven's name is MUDD? I'm glad it had a nice library, at least. I've done without them for too long, and I don't intend to do that anymore.

e.f. bartlam ha detto...

I never thought about the name...I just looked it up.

Seely G. MUDD left his name on buildings...he was a physician but he must have come from some serious money. There must be at least 20 buildings he paid for.

My MUDD was the MUDD library at Yale...a very unglamorous building especially in comparison with Sterling and Beinecke...but I was in love.

It was exhilarating to read anecdotes in published military journals for instance and then find an episode in an unpublished contemporary diary that told similar stories.

I do miss that.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

Sign up for a distance course and exploit that library!

Baywatch ha detto...

indeed. the internet is shite for anything beyond the surface or purposes of mundane public diversion. I am lucky to have back door access to university liberries.