Libraries work differently here, than they do in Wooster/the U.S. There are basically two systems: Either books stand around on shelves, you can look at them, but you can’t take them out (in most departmentlibraries) or Books are somewhere hidden and you can take them out but you don’t see what you get beforehand (in the mainlibrary). For an american students ear that might make no sense what so ever, but indeed it has some advantages (which are, recognizable, outweighed by disadvantages). For example, you know that the books are there, when you go to the library. Exept when they are not, because they were either lost temporarily or used by another student somewhere in the library. (Very engaged – or desperate – students then run from one end of the library to the other, searching every stack of books regardless if its user uses them at this point). Also, spoiled american student, if you think that since we can’t take books out of the library, the study comfort is much higher, you are dead wrong. While your glorious bottox is probably sitting on one of this comfortable reading couches right now, I am sitting on my wooden chair in a wooden cubicle (no, Diplomanden in Austria don’t get their personal cubicle). Because why should it be comfortable to study?
The library system of the hidden book also has a lot of advantages. … For example…aehm…that you don’t have to schlepp your books from the shelve to the counter! Some disadvantages, like: you really don’t know if you can use the book and if you don’t, you wasted your time and the time of three librarians that were needed to retrieve your book. Oh glorious mainlibrary, how many times did you surprise me with disappointment! Wether the book was only a brochure or just had a great title but the content was just not right, you made my day so many times …. not. (1)
In the department libraries, the ones where you actually can look at the book and decide beforehand if it’s helpful, there are two legal ways to take a book home: There is a weekend rental (Friday morning through Monday noon) or you are a Senior/Diplomand (2). Its not like in Woo, where every librarian knows roughly who’s a senior and who’s not. As long as librarians don’t see your student I.D. they can’t tell. But since I came back, three different people at the library confused me for being a Diplomand. How they tell, you ask? I have no idea, but I have the slight feeling I may start being to old to not be a Diplomand, which I technically am not yet. But since it is a matter of a few weeks for administration reasons, I don’t feel that bad….well bad enough to write this post.
(1) This not joke is dedicated to Georg.
(2) Since the Austrian University system doesn’t have classes like the U.S. does, the term „Senior“ has nothing to do with the U.S. term. In fact, Austrian Seniors or Diplomanden are most likely somewhere in their 6th+ year and you are a Senior as soon as you have an advisor for your thesis.