Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Stacks


I spent half of yesterday deep in the labyrinth like rooms, for the first time visitor anyway, of Leeds University's Brotherton Library.  The main rotunda room of the library is a stunning piece of architecture, designed by Thomas Arthur Lodge and Thomas Geoffrey Lucas the Portland stone Parkinson Building holds the Brotherton Library for arts, social sciences and law.

Predictably the stack I required wasn't anywhere near the glorious light-filled rotunda, instead it was buried deep in an obscure corner of the annexe, Islamic architecture being buried close to vast piles of arcane publications from Her Majesty's Government.

Registration for library access for an Open University student was easy enough, you need to contact the OU Library in advance to get a physical library card and a SCONUL scheme access card and upon presenting these with my ID I was given a Leeds University Library card.

Being a book geek, I could have happily wandered the stacks all day looking at books as their spines called out to me. Yesterday though I was on a research mission and so I restricted myself largely to the architecture aisle and a few hours perusing Frishman and Khan's The Mosque: History, Architectural Development and Regional Diversity and a couple of dictionaries of architectural terminology.

I did think that I moved from module AA100 The Arts Past And Present to A217 Introducing World Religions that the work would take on more of constant flow or narrative.  I enjoyed AA100 tremendously, but the constant leaping from topic to topic, the reputation of Cleopatra followed by traditions in animal poetry followed by transmission of knowledge in Islamic medicine followed by early seaside photography for example did make the course lack a little in coherence.  In its own way, A217 is equally as fractured.  Each month we concentrate on a different major religion, requiring the learning of a new glossary of terminology.  On top of that, I have opted for the Islamic architecture option for this month's essay, which requires some knowledge of architectural terminology as applied to mosque construction.

This is a year 2 module, so the points accrued for it count towards my final degree grade, at the moment I have fluctuated a little with a little more spread in grades than I attained on the year 1 modules.  The work has been harder, and I did expect that, we have twice as much reading to do in the amount of set books we have been given and for some of the essay options, and this one is certainly one of those, the amount of information given in the set books does not really allow itself to be extrapolated into a 1,750 word discussion of the subject.  Not that I have any problem with extra reading, but I know that some of my fellow students who have tougher time constrictions than I do due to family and work commitments are finding the reading and research harder going.  This is what we expected though, we don't have the opportunity to bend our entire will to learning as full time students do so we make do with the time we have.

I think yesterday was the first day of term, and the library was busy with students beavering away at their studies, and hurrah, they obeyed the silence rule of the silent study areas almost totally, not at all like trying to study in some public libraries then.

I do hope that the student sat opposite me got his work done, and that it wasn't for an imminently due piece of work, he had obviously had a skin full on Sunday night, the ghostly pallor, red rimmed eyes and inability to concentrate all gave it away.  Every few minuted he would raise his head, gaze forlornly around the reading room, and then return to staring at the same page he had been aimlessly staring at when I entered the library an hour earlier.  Oh well, such is the life of the 'proper' student, he was probably out on the beer again last night.
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