Saturday, August 12, 2006

More Libraries

Large universities have a way of sticking lots of their books into dedicated subject-area libraries for the benefit of individual departments. Back in Pittsburgh, I quite enjoy having the art library right in the Fine Arts building and getting to have my own delightful carrel (now, alas, assigned to some other grad student) for book storage and window-gazing.
I am not quite as big of a fan of separate libraries when I visit other universities, to be sure. It's just that much more terrain I have to familiarize myself with.
Nonetheless, it can be rather nice. My past exploration of UC Berkeley's subject libraries has been limited to the Art/Classics Library, the Environmental Design Library, and the Music Library. I don't recall that I found any of these particularly conducive to anything except finding books.
This week, however, I have ventured over to the Education/Psychology Library. It is on the north side of campus, which is to say alien territory to me. I found, however, that the walk from BART was rather pleasant and went past some nice trees and architecture. And, while most mid-twentieth century architecture strikes me as truly abominable, this building is relatively interesting.
Better yet, the library itself is highly agreeable. Not, perhaps, one of the nicest spaces in which I have ever worked (my standards are high), and a bit short on electrical outlets near the tables, but really quite pleasant. It's roomy rather than cosy, and at the far end is one of those quintessential mid-twentieth-century walls consisting solely of window.
As a rule I don't care for windows that start at floor level; they tend to make me feel unsafe, that it would be much too easy to fall through or kick the glass. I prefer to have a couple of feet of wall at the bottom. But, perhaps because I had no reason to go anywhere near the glass (my electrical outlet of choice is at least 30 feet away), this did not really bother me. Instead, I enjoyed the view, which of course is the only excuse for a window that large. One sees a small grassy rise with very large pine trees spreading their branches overhead. It's quite lovely.
The book collection is quite satisfying too, if one likes psychology texts, which I rather do. There are a great many books on and by Freud, Jung, and their associates. Next thing I knew, I had spent three hours reading Wilhelm Reich's The Function of the Orgasm. It was the wrong translation and edition for the quotation I sought, but it was interesting. Eventually it occurred to me that I was starving and had not yet dipped into Ernest Jones' book on Freud for the item I sought there.
Jones proved a little annoying because it turned out that he was, in fact, quoting Freud but while he gave the page number for the German edition, he only gave the volume number for the Standard Edition. My desire to track down a relatively unimportant Freud quote (compared to the many hugely significant Freud quotes I will be using) did not extend to looking it up in German so that I could narrow down the English-language search. I really don't care whether Jones translated the passage or Strachey et. al. did. Once in awhile I feel it is best to err on the side of laziness.
I had noticed the previous day that Moffitt Library's Free Speech Cafe had food as well as drinks. I don't remember this cafe as being anything more than a place to get soft drinks, but either my memory is faulty or it has been enlarged greatly and redecorated. It is presently a fine place to have a good tuna sandwich. I felt very content as I looked over my section on the Artificialist Manifesto and devoured my sandwich.
Moffitt Library itself is a pretty good place to look at the Standard Edition of Freud, but only because it has become such a marginal place to work that no one thinks to go there to look for Freud. Once upon a time, undergraduates were stuck with Moffitt. Now they can work in the remodeled Main Library (or sleep on its tables, as they so often do, rather like Prague students at the Národní knihovna). Moffitt is an aging, unattractive space, but a good place to find basic texts. And so I spent the remainder of my afternoon with The Interpretation of Dreams.
What more could one want (other than an electrical outlet)?


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