Posted by pottera
on Dec 16th, 2009 in Cultural Institutions
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Type of place:
image (cc) >WouteR< via Flickr
: 1992 Plein, Centre Ceramique
The Centre Ceramique library is a modern building located in the Wijk-region of Maastricht just across the footbridge. It is large and cube-shaped with lots of glass and light that you would be hard-pressed to miss if you were to wander into the area. The library inside includes five floors of books (mostly Dutch but with some English language fiction), a cafe, and audio and video collection, and meeting and practice rooms for students or others who are musically inclined. You will also find both permanent and rotating collections of art and other cultural artifacts that keeps the library a fresh and interesting place to visit.
Books Books Books
The Centre Ceramique library has a large collection of nonfiction and fiction works as well as many audio books, music CDs, and movies. They even have a respectable, if all Dutch language, collection of graphic novels that I can’t wait to dig into once my vocabulary has improved.
A wide variety of subjects are covered in the nonfiction areas, but probably most interesting is the large collection of Limburg-area history resources. There is also a significant language learning section. However, unfortunately for me, they are mostly for learning a language when your first language is Dutch. Some English-language nonfiction books are mixed in with the Dutch language ones, but the online catalog does not allow you to search by language so it can be hard to find them.
The fiction collection is also substantial, if smaller. The English-language fiction novels share the basement level with the kids’ department. Most mainstream novels and genres are represented, although certain genres like science fiction have less shelf space. There are more British authors then you might find in an American library and probably several translated novels from other world authors.
Events and Exhibits
In addition to providing the usual library services of circulation, reference, and research, the Centre Ceramique has two separate exhibit spaces their permanent and rotating cultural collections. In the main atrium you can usually find a temporary collection on one of innumerable topics. Since we’ve been here there have been exhibits about Natzi-Era children’s organizations, comics creators, and more. Right now the World Press Photo winners are on display. A record is kept on the library’s website of new exhibitions.
The permanent collection includes a small ceramic collection in honor of the pottery factories that once stood on this location. Here you can see examples of the pottery and painting, as well as several “test plates” used to ensure accurate colors after firing and glazing. Some of the pottery created in Maastricht was done in the so-called “Blue Delft” style but there are also a variety of other painting styles on display.
Finally, the library puts on a variety of events which you can find listed on their website. Generally these events are aimed towards children and are in Dutch, but you can keep an eye on them to see if something that appeals to you comes up.
We’re not in Boston anymore…
Statue outside the Boston Public Library. (cc) p_a_h via Flickr
If you are from the United States, you are probably accustomed to public libraries also being free libraries. Boston was the place that started this US tradition of free libraries to “educate the masses”. In the Netherlands, as in several other European countries, a nominal fee must be paid to become a member of the library. You can visit the Centre Ceramique and access their collection on site, but you cannot check books out without having a membership.
A yearly membership costs 26 euros and will allow you to check out up to 4 books (or other materials) at a time for about three weeks. There are other memberships
that cost more and will allow you to check out more items and for longer. Members of the Maastricht University can get a discount or even a reciprocal library card. If this is your case then you should probably talk to be University’s library for more details.
Honestly, I have not obtained my library card yet but I have enjoyed stopping in periodically to read or write in this large modern building. Dan and I will be getting a membership with a discount through the Maastricht University so it is just a matter of time before I can start chewing through any English a literature I can find there.