Journals from National University of Ireland, Galway
2009-03-19 The Library
Its mid-March and classes are already winding down. The library on campus is packed morning til night with studious students heads falling into their textbooks and people stretching and re-stretching their cramping hands from taking notes. The library is a serious place. People are shushed by the workers for whispering and the students look stressed and contemplative.
I was shocked by how different the NUIG library functions from Linfields library. The Nick (Linfields Nicholson Library) can become a loud social place for students near finals. Some might be asked to be more quiet, but the casual atmosphere remains. The library here is not like that. It is used as the place to study. There are three levels to the library and plenty of seating space. Students will camp out there all day, it seems. They leave for tea or smoke breaks and dont bother taking their bags, notebooks, and computer. It is a nice change from the disappointing honor system at Linfield where unattended laptops and other items are sometimes stolen. Despite the size of the library, I feel comfortable leaving my laptop on the desk for fifteen minutes while I use the bathroom, search for books, and step outside to talk to a friend on my mobile.
Now, while I appreciate the trust and quietness of NUIGs library, I also greatly, deeply, passionately miss Linfields library. On first using Linfields library, which uses the Library of Congress classification system, I was confused because it differed from the Dewey Decimal System I had grown up with. But now, returning to the DDS, I am absolutely frustrated by the expanse of the books spread over two levels and not all in chronological order. Perhaps I just dont know how to use the library, or the system, but on several occasions I have been disappointed not to find a certain book I was looking for"either the database said the book was in, or I searched for a specific book or author, and the library doesnt own any such books.
Teachers and students acknowledge the poor selection of books in the library. One friend said, The librarys no good if youre looking for something specific. Just go through the aisles and pull out books and see if you like them. Thats the best way. And its good advice. Through this process, Ive found wonderful Irish poets (theres a vast selection of Irish literature) and other random books.
The process of learning and studying differs from Linfield as well. At Linfield, professors have a short, set reading list for students. Here, the professors/teachers dont really have such a set list. My literature lectures obviously have set texts: novels, poems, and dramas to read. My archaeology and history classes, on the other hand, have a suggested reading list that is meant to guide the students to certain areas discussed in the course. It feels kind of overwhelming to know that there are so many books available and I need to be seeking them out on my own time to learn about them. I like the concept of this system, but coming from a different system that Im familiar with, I prefer the clearly-marked reading list.
Well, I should be writing my essays now.
P.S. I should warn (those interested in coming NUIG) that visiting students primarily write essays for each of their lectures. I have seven essays to write, all due very near one another.
15 March 2009