Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Baffling Bibliothèques & Bafouant Bibliothécaire!

After spending a delightful 3 weeks not working, studying, teaching or barely even putting pencil to paper in England, I came back from the Christmas holidays and found that due to my 'holidaying' I had left myself with 3 days in which to write an essay for university. An essay that should have taken 3 months to complete... 

As result my first weekend back in Paris I spent dwelling in libraries, But wait! 
REAL libraries. 

The libraries you tend to imagine when you're little; 
         a grand hall, where you find deaf professors with round glasses, 
                studiously bent over books and with such pale skin as to suggest they never leave this enchanted cavern of books to enjoy the sun. 

The books that surround you are found on bookcases which cover the expense of the walls and you find the old fashioned cliche of library ladders that you have to climb up for miles to reach the ceiling! 

         Where, there, perched on a wooden shelf untouched for centuries amongst                   cobwebs and dust there is the old, yellowing book which you had hope to find all along and must surely hold the answer to your arduous and dull essay question! 

Yes. I have my little girl library dream.
                     A library that looks like something out of Hogwarts. 

And how did I find this gem? 
                                      On the internet of course!

When I researched online to find good books to help me tackle this daunting essay I came across the library packed with history books. Satisfied it was perfect as the name mentionned the word 'Histoire', I set to find it in real life!

I walked past it numerous times. It looked too scary to be a public place of reading!

They're were bouncers at the entrance for a start! And it was a part of the Hotel de Ville! Which now I know turns out to be not just the Mairie but a library and a gallery place and a historical museum all at once. Weird! 

So after swallowing my fear I approach the bouncer to ask if I was in the right place...On my explanation: I'm writing an essay and there's a book I'd like to read inside s'il vous plait!  

I get escorted inside by Monsieur Big Bouncer man and as soon as we've entered, I feel out of place. Inside is luxurious, security ridden and much too sophisicated entrance hall for a foreign student to be entering. I feel like I'm a spy trying to gain access to a secret bank of information!

           Despite these thoughts of how I feel abit misplaced, they sign me up and give me a library for the "Specialised Libraries" in Paris ! COOOL! Unexpected but I just like the title of the card! 

(Who would of thought you can be welcomed into such a sauve resource center as long as you don't get scared and run away at the sight of the scary bouncers instead of walking up bravely  and asking "OI THERES MEANT TO BE A LIBRARY HERE OR IS JOHNNY DEPP INSIDE? IS THAT WHY THERES SO MUCH PROTECTION?"

Anywho, I have my special library card! YAY! And I'm allowed to access the main building  and make my way to the library. 

I walk up numerous amounts of stairs! 

It's a huge huge HUMUNGUS BEAST of a building!

And I walk into the library sweating my coat and stripping my scarf. Not very elegant when I look around and I am in a room with one man with who asks me my life details and tells me the rules of the library: 

"Its forbidden to sit here, here, here, here and here. They're for rare documents. Here you can. Oh no wait the table there is delicate to ink if you're thinking of writing? You are. Ah bah... When you enter choose a table thats not delicate please..."

I'm busy trying to digest all this is way-too-much-hassle-regulations-just-to-read-a-book and I'm feeling rather out of my middle class social rank if I'm honest. 
However I agree to abide by the rules and when he asks what material I'm interested in he literally jumps off his chair in delight!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

"JULES FERRY! My god yes we have tonnes! Everything! More! Lovely!" 

His fingers flash rapidly over his keyboard and within milliseconds gives me a lightning speed run down of all the books which would I will be highly grateful to study! (Unfortunately due to me daydreaming that I was a spy breaking-in to steal some secret spy information from a top-of-the-art-most-highly-protected-library,  I miss all the details he says to me. Everything but one book title.)

FINALLY, I escape Monsieur Eager enthousiaste and get abit lost finding the entrance to the library itself. HUGE BUILDING. So I make a unplanned but welcome break at the toilets.

Finally I find the entrance: 2 MASSIVE MAGNIFICIENT wooden doors; as tall as you can imagine tower infront of me. 

                          Jolly good here goes! 
I push open the door. Get too overwhelmed and search for find a table in panic! 

Vite vite vite no not this table, nor that one. No the man there looks far too intelligent I can't share a table with him, I'll disturb him too, oh balls, no delicate surface... 
Bah voila! 

And I dump my heavy bag on the table with such relief that an unfortunate,  unwelcomed BOOM. echoes round the hall. oh shit. oh shit. Not feeling at home here it's much to sohpisicated...

However on further examination I realised there were a fair handful of students busily buried in books so whilst making a scene to find a table and banging down bags in a REAL REAL REALLL library is not over appreciated... I made my myself thoroughly at home. 

The table was huge I could spread my papers out. Everyone was studying and busy making notes and you found youself sucked into the studious spell! Yes I think I got caught up in the academic ambience and just went for it. 
          Progressed alot I feel.
                     Amazing how a Hogwarts style library can make you fill a page faster                   with french words than 10 cups of tea and a lot of chocolate!

Anywho, I had yet to ask for the books that had really bought me here in the first place. It was a frightening procedure. Having forgotten all the useful results from the research Monsieur Ethousiaste had threw at me through various spit missiles I had to research the book and fill in a little card with all its details and then the scary bit: 

Give it to the documentalist (or whatever their absurd titles are.) 

I walked up. Very conscience of my new squeaky boots on the old wooden floor. 
I peak my head up over the rather-too-high-to-be-friendly desk of the man I have whittled down out of all the various figures sat authoritively at tall and daunting desks as the librarian. 

I whisper: I'd like this please. He looks bewildered as to why I have disturbed him from his Large, book of IMPORTANT LAW and then takes my card book request. He scans it. I wait with baited breath. I have noted to the best of my ability what book, ISBN number, Author, Year, Publisher... Uh-oh...He screams:


Oh fuck. Everyone turns to look.

"Errr. But no I found it online at my house and then for the 2nd time here in the libraries database. I am certain this book is here. Even Monsieur Enthousiaste outside found it for me..."


I fought the urge to be impolite and say "SSSShhhhhh It's a library..." Like in that TV program I no longer remember the name of. However. Instead, tail between my legs and squeaky boots on feet, I followed his finger to the another man....

I cleared my throat to start my speech over when the SHOUTY SHOUT SHOUT SO EVERYONE CAN HEAR man came over and did a little speech on how I couldn't use the database search and I needed educating. Charming.

When he had let out all his steam and reduced to the size of a normal man he span on his heels and marched in a manner that made his footsteps echoe off the bookcases with a sound reminding you of the headteacher approaching at a school.
                  What an uncanny likeness to Professor Snape...I have found Hogwarts!

I didn't let my eyes leave the back of the SHOUT SHOUT FOR ALL YOU CAN man's walk until I was sure he was seated comfortably and absorbed deeply in his book of boredom.

I swung my eyes round to the next man on the high chair behind his tall desk and like a child who couldn't recite her timetables whispered: 
This is what I would like please. 

The man gave me the welcoming grin I have ever seen in my life and soon we were chatting in library whispers like neighbours. 

And as it turns out I was correct in my research!

I was not just a blonde foreign stupid girl who always made mistakes!

I started the short journey back to the SHOUT man by slaleming through the desks with such a  swagger that said "Yeah in your face!" 
This self-confidence faded fast with every squeaky new boot step and I ended the journey strolling hesitantly up to the SHOUT man and saying the words:
It is here. I am right. Even the nice gentleman there says so. 

SHOUT man grunted, roughed up his hair with an air of auhtority and said:
I know every position of all these books. They've all safe places. This one single book I don't know where it is. And to make matters worse. It's only small. 40pages. 

I replied: In that case I shall read it quick when you've found it so you can quickly put it back in it's very safe place or lose it again. As you wish... :) 

He did not reply to this remark...

He slithered off his chair (the thought struck me how I was taller than him which was pleasing and made him much less frightening) and after half an hour of searching and watching him scale up ladders (just for me hehehee!
He found my book and with a very defeated expression placed it infront of me. 


Bref, if you've got to the end of this blog my new Hogwarts Wizards Hat goes off to you!
But on a serious note, I suggest if you really want to get an essay done - get lost in a huge library and be swallowed in a silent crowd of readers. You can't talk, the outside world of distractions doesn't exist and you'll increase your production rate without increasing your BMI with extremme chocolate and tea consumption!


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