Saturday, May 14, 2011

library discrimination

("bouquinerie" means bookstore)

oh là! this morning emily and I decided that we would go to the nearby library in order to accomplish a bit of work that we have for the internship courses we are taking. as we walked over to the library (conveniently 100 yards from our residence) and entered inside, we noticed that we needed to slide a student card in order to access the library. confused about the carded entrance, I asked the lady at the desk if we could enter since we are interns at the university. I said that we would even be willing to show her our student id cards from our university back home in america. she said that she was sorry but that the library was a library “priviligée” for the students of the university only and that we could find library services elsewhere in the city. we turn around and walked out. I was a bit shocked. 

what kind of elitist library system is that?
 refusing students to come and read from their books? 
isn’t this university one that is funded by the state? 

I think about BYU’s library – at least 20 to 30 times the size of this university’s, with more volumes than all the libraries in this region have combined (again times 30, I am sure), yet anyone and everyone is welcome within its walls to partake of the vast resources it provides. needless to say, I was mystified by the lack of perspective and modern thought held by whoever in the administration of the library at the catholic university of lille. and, even that, the very name of the university, stretches the argument even further: this is a Christian institution, or supposedly claims itself to be in name. Yet it is a respecter of men, denying certain rights and privileges which ought to be free and widespread to the masses?

can you tell that I am feeling the flow of righteous indignation coursing through me?

so, we walked the 2 extra miles and came to the city bibliothéque found in the center of lille and accomplished our work. it must be exam time because the study room we were in was completely silent and all the chairs were filled with students, heads down, folders, books and papers creating make-shift shelters around their heads, pens skewed out from their pencil pouches used to fortify the outside walls of these fragile forts. just a note on that: pencil pouches are very french. every student no matter the age or dedication level has a little pouch or tin that holds their rainbow of pens, pencils, their rulers (they love straight lines), highlighters, erasers, glue sticks, etc. this may be another one of the reasons I love the french – they have an uncanny obsession for school supplies.

we walked home after library time and came across a used book store. we stopped, of course. I found a few molière’s - Le Tartuffe, which we just read in 340 but which I checked out of our [fabulous] library, and L’École des Femmes, which jacqueline tells me is her favorite – and a little dessert recipe book. Each was 1 euro and, well, books are a weakness that I do not mind giving in to.


  1. favorite phrase of the day: "uncanny obsession for school supplies"

  2. Still loving every post- Wishing I were there!