Monthly Archives: December 2007

Shuffling between libraries

Rachel Leow, who already gave us the great gift of bookporn, turns her attention to the difference between Oxbridge and US academic libraries. This observation on her Cambridge experiences recalled my time in Oxford nearly 30 years ago:

And then there is the breathtakingly arcane distribution of books amongst not one but over sixty libraries in Cambridge — a result of the inveterate collegiate system, which does, I admit, have its occasional charms. Most departmental libraries have borrowing periods of two weeks — often less, if you are trying to borrow outside your department. The Seeley Historical Library has a lavish borrowing period of one day. You can only borrow from your own college library; if you are a historian and your college happens to own an exceedingly exemplary geography collection, tough luck. Trying to read books in other college’s libraries is a Herculean task: it involves emailing the librarian of said college library, naming the book sought (which cannot exist in any other library in Cambridge in order to warrant your necessary perusal of their facilities), being escorted (frogmarched) into the library and provided with the hallowed book and a table to take notes on. Borrowing is, of course, not allowed.

The nature of creativity

I’ve often linked to Dave Winer, who convinced me – as he did so many others – to start blogging. Dave is a thinker and innovator, but he’s also a damn fine writer. Witness:

Creativity is a process like seduction. The idea has to be teased out, you have to come at it straight on, then from the side, then sneak up from the rear. It isn’t until you understand all facets of a problem that the solution is revealed, and then, if it’s really a solution, it reveals a whole new class of problems.