We asked for the opinion of Anton Schuurman, since March 1978 Scientist at the Chair Agricultural History of Wageningen UR. He is enthusiastic about the Library, but has some critical notes as well.
Anton uses both the physical and the digital library daily: “The greatest benefit of the last few years is the growth of the digital library. This has really made life easier.” He visits more than one library location and according to him, each library has its own charm: “The Jan-Kopshuis has a unique collection on the activities in the 19th and 20th century to help develop rural areas and Special Collections where the vulnerable treasures of this institution are preserved. In Haaff Library the staff is very helpful. But number 1 for me is Leeuwenborch Library: a good atmosphere, adequate service, a fine collection; ideal to browse and to develop yourself. As a History student I was a regular visitor of the library already, but in the Leeuwenborch I found myself in some kind of Walhalla. "
Anton does not think that concentration is a good thing: “They have underestimated the importance of good location libraries. The library is part of you work place and it is essential that you can just pop in. For social sciences this has ended well: the Leeuwenborch keeps its own library, but other chair groups will be further removed from their libraries. I do think it is good that the Jan Kopshuis will be housed in the Forum Building, when most chair groups will be housed on the Born; and also that there will be a firm central library”.
Schuurman is content with his Leeuwenborch Library: “Because of the “own” library there is personal contact with information specialists, so that they are better informed and able to give more specific tips and to purchase more specific books and journals. Of course there is always room for improvement, such as the statistics and atlases collection, as well as connections for laptops."
The ideal library according to Anton Schuurman:
- Good and quiet work places
- Good Internet facilities, because one cannot work without the digital library anymore
- A broad collection: journals, statistics material, reference works such as biographic dictionaries, atlases, almanacs.
- Open Access as much as possible ( BOBST-Library New York
- A good catalogue: libraries should show what is in their collections as much as possible, the way Amazon does: the possibility to read a part of a publication digitally
- Good service: borrowing, extensions of loans, making reservations, having material placed ready for you via the computer (Koninlijke Bibliotheek); help with searching for literature.
- Reasonable rates for people who are not students or employees: together with the media the library belongs to the heart of a properly functioning democracy: people should have access to information.
- A library is a treasure chamber which should invite people to use it.