Indolence at Cambridge University Library

Up this morning at 7:15 am and into the car.  I reach Cambridge at ten minutes to 9am, and cool my heels outside the front door.  The library only opens at 9am, you see — very nice for the staff, not so nice for anyone seeking to use the place.  Through the glass I see staff moving about, doubtless doing important tasks.  Three of us sit outside and wait. 

Nine O’Clock comes, and the bells in the college chapels ring.  The door remains firmly locked.  Eventually, some five minutes later, we are admitted. 

The book I want is Martin Vermaseren’s account of the excavations of the Mithraeum of Santa Prisca in Rome.  This, I found before I started, had to be ordered in the West Room, and could not be reserved online.  There I head.  And … no entry.  A little sign outside says that the reference library and the west room are not open until 9:30am.

How nice for them.  How infuriating for me.

I get into work at 8am most mornings.  Workers in the City get in earlier still.  I don’t blame the library for opening at 9am, as most shops do.  But I do blame them for their negligence towards their customers.

Still, once the books are all online, these sorts of experiences — and the lazy staff responsible — will fade into history. 

Why do I tell you all this?  Well, I’m sat in the computer room at the library.  What else do I have to do?  And why don’t I make a complaint?  Because there is no complaints facility!

4 Responses to “Indolence at Cambridge University Library”


  1. Chuck Jones

    Yes there is a complaints facility:
    http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/contact/

  2. Roger Pearse

    I felt much better once I had typed all that!

  3. Matthew Hamilton

    Hello Roger,

    as a librarian I can tell you than nine tenths of what we do is not directly related to the customer in a face to face situation but takes place behind the scenes.

    For excample, before you reached the library you already knew they had a copy of the book you wanted – because somebody had done the work on the catalogue. No face to face but there was a service of benifit to the customer

    Still – if thay advertise opening at 9 then they should open at 9

    Matthew

  4. Roger Pearse

    Regular floggings. It’s the only way. :)