“Hier stehe ich, ich kann nicht anders.” It’s the infamous quote by Martin Luther, allegedly said with pride and triumph in 1521. Here, in the university library of Freiburg, these words gain a whole other meaning.
You might have already heard of the Freiburger ‘UB’ (as it is also called over here, short for ‘Universitätsbibliothek’). The library went viral about three years ago when it was described extensively in the video "Die irrsten Universitätsbibliotheken Deutschlands" ("The maddest university libraries of Germany"). Especially the lack of seating vis a vis the major building, fascinating architecture and major financial investment are belittled. Though no one really understands how the library was able to waste so much of its space: My best guess is that, due to its futuristic exterior, resulting in sloped walls and funny corners, as well as its love for cute cubicles and just a general lack of simple tables, many students end up sitting on the ground, looking up at the majestic building rather than becoming part of it. And thus, the library has been the centre of one sarcastic and unfavourable article after the other basically since its opening in 2015.
Until now! At least, that was the plan…
I wanted to write a defence for the uni library. I wanted to write about the handful of super comfortable armchairs that are standing around and sneakily whisper “You deserve a break! Go get some chocolate. Watch some Netflix!”. I wanted to write about the shopping baskets that you have to grab before being allowed into the part of the library with all the books (as you have to leave your bag and jacket behind in a small locker), making you feel like you’re shopping for old and important books. And I also wanted to write about the umbrellas that are lying on the lockers to dry on a rainy day, turning the ground floor into a colourful mess.
But, alas, there was no more room for me to sit in this huge library with no space. And thus, I was not able to write that article.
Here I stand, I can do no other.
Jesler van Houdt