On hearing I had cut up a book, one of my friends, a reference librarian, sent me this note:
I think you should go to a library confessional. You may need to serve many volunteer hours at your local library to make up for your sins, my child.
Padre, you’ll be happy to hear that to atone for my sins, I made a special pilgrimage today to the holy place of books, the Amsterdam Public Library. It’s a nearly brand-new, tall, glass and stone-clad structure all decked out in shiny, modern chic.
Public information is highly respected in this country, and the city’s library is well used and well stocked with dozens of Macs on each floor for free patron use. When I was there this afternoon, I rode the central, open escalators looking for a vacant workstation and had to travel up several floors before I found one. No wi-fi, unfortunately; as one of the helpful and friendly librarians told me, “It’s not our piece of cake.” There were plenty of people working on their own laptops, but only after they had registered an account with the library, had it activated by a librarian who checked their ID, and then had configured their machine by setting up a new network. A little too much work for live-blogging from a library. I merely snapped photos and took them back to my hotel room (where there is good ethernet connection).
Each floor of the library is full of windows, all of them looking out over the city.
The stacks fit the library’s contemporary design. I was on the floor marked “philosophie,” which included everything from biology to natural history to computer science.
But my favorite sections of all were the lounging computer workstations. Who says you have to sit in a desk chair to surf?
And yes, tomorrow I’m going to do the more normal touristy things like visit museums. But when a public library appears in a guidebook, I figure it’s worth a visit. And Amsterdam’s definitely is.
Okay, Padre, am I absolved?