Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Danish Libraries (Part Three) - You say tomato, I say tomahto...

[This post is also published over at www.blogs.denmark.dk - the official website of Denmark run by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs]

It's no secret that I think Danish libraries are fab.  I mean, really, what's not to love about our local library where children are allowed - nay, encouraged - to crawl along on top of the book shelves? ;D
('Where are we?' Wednesday? - Climbing the Walls)  Or perhaps you'd prefer a free cuppa, in a setting that looks like your granny's front parlour? (Tea with your Tolstoy?)

Danish libraries are overflowing with things you can borrow.  For free, selvfølgelig.  DVDs, Blu-Ray, CDs, Wii games, wooden jigsaws, kids' boardgames, books on tape, international magazines.  And even books (and e-books).  And not just Danish books!  German, Arabic, Spanish, Swedish, Italian, Norwegian, French, Turkish.  Even in the children's section.

But if, dear reader, you're looking for a novel in English, prepare yourself for an extra hunt.  Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you're looking for Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code".  You'd walk past 82.7 (Spanish Literature), 82.8 (Portuguese Literature) and expect to find it here in section 83 (English Literature).  Right?


Wrong!  You need to pass ten to fifteen bookshelves, filled with authors from A to Z.  And go round the corner...  To section 83.8.  "American Literature".

Yep, those crazy Danish librarians split English books into British English and American English.  So you need to know in advance if the book you're interested in is written in American or British English.  Isn't that overcomplicating things?  Can't they just put them all together?

"Aha!", I said, to the librarian, sensing a tiny chink in the armour of the Danish cataloging system. "What if the author is Canadian.  Is that classed as British or American English?  Surely that's a grey (or should that be gray...) area?  Books by Indian authors?  South Africa?  New Zealand?  Or books translated from Japanese into English?"

"Well," said the librarian - playing the proverbial trumph card - "if you can't find what you're looking for on the shelves, we can always look it up on the computer." ;)

Hope you have a wonderful Wednesday! :)

2 comments:

Heather said...

I love our local library. And ours is all English and I can browse, but I still frequently find myself going to the computer to look things up. I also love that our library has an online system where I can request a book to be put aside for me (even if it's from another library in the system) and I can just go to the desk and check it out directly. That comes in handy when I already know what I want to read, but have no time to look.

DIANE, DENMARK said...

Hi Heather! Just wondering...does your library split things up into American English/British English?