Thursday, April 28, 2005

A place for my head

The first thing that impressed me about the US when I came here first was the highways. The roads were wide, well-maintained and very systematic. Exits were clearly marked and numbered with warnings coming from a couple of miles before so that you could move lanes safely. Not surprisingly, this country has built itself around the availability of easy access via road. (This leads to its own set of challenges and problems, but that's for a different time).

Over time, another thing that has blown me away to a much greater extent is the public library system. The availability of books even in relatively modest-sized town libraries is impressive. Even relatively new books are pretty easily available, and the systems in place are extremely convenient - online catalogs, hold notifications via email, extended borrowing privileges across libraries (i.e. inter-library loans within the same area), extended hours (the Redmond one runs all seven days - weekdays from 10-9 and shorter hours on weekends) all make reading books much cheaper as one doesn't have to buy every book one needs to read. As an added plus, many libraries have a good selection of audio books, music and movies as well.

Libraries also provide more facilities - reading rooms and magazines (of course) and importantly, well-qualified librarians can help with research - something school children will find useful - especially with the wealth of encyclopaedias available both in paper and online format. Most libraries provide internet access as well as meeting rooms for activities.

While denizens of Pune or Mumbai might think what the big deal is about, these are facilities smaller towns in India would kill for. There are local libraries, of course, but my experience in the local library at Baramati (even with dusty library cards and not online lookups) were nowhere as good as the ones here - especially in terms of the availability of really new books.

Enough rhapsodizing though. William Gibson beckons - Neuromancer is just getting interesting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work