Friday, August 6, 2010

Just trying to kill some time in the Public Library

So, on Tuesdays and Thursdays I come all the way down to Zona Sul to teach some students.  It's about an hour and a half to two hour bus ride.  In case that sounded bitter in any way, it's not.  I actually love having a reason to come down here... it's far enough that I can't come just for a Sunday stroll.
The only crappy thing about my Tuesday/Thursday combo is that I have a huge gap of time between 2 and 6pm where I literally (figuratively) have to kill time until my last class and basically I have to try not to spend money. 

My last class is actually in Centro and on the way there I always pass the Biblioteca Nacional.  It's a really beautiful building and and I always think 'what better way to spend some free time than preparing for a class in an awesome library.' (Maybe you can think of other better ways actually... but this is pretty good).  I just have never made it inside yet.

Today my last morning class canceled so I actually had between 1 and 6pm to kill (ack) so I decided to meander on into the library for the first time.

Can someone tell me why getting into the library is like trying to get into prison????  It's like they're trying to keep the books from escaping.  And not only that, but you're actually not even allowed to ACCESS any books unless you know exactly what you're looking for.  I Just want to look at the damn books!  Just want to peruuuuuse the shelves.  Is that really such a problem at the LIBRARY?  Well, apparently here, it is. 

Before I made it through the threshold though, I managed to figure out that I needed a key to enter the library.  This led me to a verrrrrry tiny locker where I was advised to leave my enormous backpack and bring in only paper and a pencil.  I grabbed a pen, thinking 'pen, pencil, what's the diff?'.  I was STOPPED though by the huge prison guard blocking the entrance who said "PENCILS ONLY."


Then I scanned my visitor's badge and was asked to hand over my notebook for the other prison guard to skim through it for...??  Whatever test I was going through, I passed because I was allowed to enter into one room and one room only.  This room: 

A huge private school study hall circa 1950. 

And why are there no books??  Only drawers and drawers of index cards?!  Huh?  Who uses the index card system??

Anyway, regardless of the super tight entrance system and old school filing system (which is actually pretty cool) this library is beautiful.  The building itself makes me stop to look every time I pass by.  The huge marble double staircase in the entrance is nothing less than just grand.  Another time I will pay the R$2 and get the full tour.  But for now, I sit here and write this blog the old fashioned way - pencil and paper in hand....


  1. Linds - I feel you regarding the long transport and big time gaps associated with teaching gigs. That's why I switched to private classes only. Now I sit in my jammies until 10 minutes before a class and the students do all the trekking.

    Good for you for stopping into the library (where you will not spend money) to kill some time. The security is because that is the National Library and it is filled with very rare items. But it is strange that a PUBLIC facility would be so restrictive.

    I posted about the library here: - and there is a good link there that provides additional info.

    Let me know when you have to kill some more time and I will meet you for a tour of the newly restored Teatro Municipal across the street from the library. I was there years ago, but now it looks spectacular! (Luiz once danced ballet with the Rio Company on that stage!)

  2. Let me know when you guys are going to the teatro municipal because I've been dying to go inside!

    I used to kill time at CCBB and Saara. Oh, and there's the vertical shopping... I can't remember the street names but I could show you! I used to window shop there when it rained.

    When I'm done with adaptation hell, let's meet up on Thursday afternoons between classes. Or you can just come here and chill.

  3. Hi Linds,
    Nice post. I wish libraries in Brazil were friendlier. There is a library at CCBB too, this one you can take the books from the shelves, but the library is so uncomfortable. Too small and not many places to sit. Plus, you can't take the books home.


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