Since quite a few people were impressed with the pictures of our library café, I felt it was necessary to bring you all back down to earth with this post. The café might be lovely and the courtyard the nicest bookish hangout you can imagine, however, the library itself sucks.
It is a large library, it serves a city of about 500.000 people and has various branches all over the city with one main library in the center. It also has so-called "book buses" that visit schools on a regular schedule to enable pupils to get books even if their parents don’t take them to the library.
The main library is being renovated at the moment so part of it had to be moved to various nearby buildings, but the transition seems to have gone smoothly and it does not seem to be some improvised arrangement, but it looks as if everything works fine (the renovation will be going on for another year or two, I think).
So, what is not so great about this bookish place?
- The opening times. The library opens at 11am and closes at 6pm, except for Wednesdays when it doesn’t open at all. Saturdays it is open for 3 hours and Sunday – that goes without saying, because it is the Day of the Lord and we are in God fearing Bavaria – it is closed again. Oh, hold on, wait a minute, on Thursdays it’s open one hour longer, until 7pm. That’s when all the people who have to work for a living might make it there to rush through it.
- The staff is not really that helpful and/or friendly. There are some people who could actually work in the free economy and succeed, but all in all they are as friendly as Rosa Klebb.
- It offers no events to speak of. When it does they take place in some suburb branch.
- The few English books on offer are about two decades old. I am aware it is a German library but you would think that nowadays they would make sure that they are a tiny bit multilingual.
- The late fees are outrageous.
- They charged me late fees for one of the boys even though they accumulated because the book bus returned to his school only after the due date. Is that my fault?
- At the moment there are two buildings and, of course, various departments, each with their own return desk. If you have three books, let’s say a children’s book, a novel and a non fiction book you have to go to three different return desks in two buildings to return three books.
- They have about four different cashiers (to pay the late fee), but invariably if you want to pay at a desk they will say “You can pay just about anywhere but not with me.”
- Their website is boring, bleak and uninformative, apart from the standard info like opening times etc. If you don’t know the library and think, “I’m going to check out their website to see whether it is worth joining” you will undoubtedly decide against becoming a member.
So you think a nice café compensates for that? I don’t.