Thursday, January 11, 2007

Library = Love, Books = Happiness

I always say that one of the things I miss most is going to the library (the other thing at the top of the list would be my car, and driving). So I’m not sure why the idea of getting a library card here never occurred to me before last week. And it wasn’t really my idea - I had met my friend Petra at the library cafe (which was actually the first time I’d ever been in any part of the library) and she brought it up.

We went back a few days later, armed with my passport and other necessary paperwork. With minor hassle, I got my card and we headed upstairs to where Petra thought she remembered seeing English books. She led me... to a shelf and a half of dictionaries. I looked at her. She scrunched her brow worriedly and said there must be more elsewhere. I nodded hopefully, and followed her upstairs to the information desk.

While we waited, she continued to look worried and promised that if they didn’t have English books, she would demand a refund. I brushed it off, saying that I would just have to learn Hungarian faster. She showed me how to use the catalog, and while she looked up some things for herself I wandered around and discovered:

1) a massive stack of English National Geographics, which alone was enough to make the library card worth it for me

2) an entire corner devoted to English-teaching materials, many of them brand new

3) the illusive English section: six shelves of dusty, B-quality literature, most of the books twice as old as me. I wanted to wrap my arms around the shelves and cry with joy.

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