Boston in the winter is cold. But since Oslo is not exactly a warm place in the winter month, this is not much of a problem to a winter-hardened yours truly. However, there is one substantial difference here: I do not have to freeze in the when I sit in the library.
Freezing indoors is a familiar experience to many US visitors in the summer. It usually goes something like this:
Walk into a public building, a store, a cinema. Encounter a wall of cool air. Sit down. Do not have an additional layer of clothing available. Start freezing.
In the winter, I am used to this being the other way round. As stupid as it is, at least it is familiar.
Now, switch settings: We are in the medical library of the richest university of the world. It is really, really, really rich. Ridiculously rich. I arrive from outside, where there is snow and ice. I choose a table. Get rid of my jacket, hat, and extra sweater. Plug my laptop in, sit down, and fire up all of my procrastination-enhancing applications. Fool around a bit. Feel a strange cold. Put on my sweater. Work a bit. Start to feel cold more deeply inside. Feel very foolish, but put on my jacket.
So it seems they have turned the heat down. Maybe the message about climate change has finally arrived? After suffering through this for a few days (and adapting to the circumstances by putting on long underwear and nice woolen socks), an inquiry about the temperature is made. The staff says that because of the loss of money that Harvard University has suffered in the financial crisis, it has been decided to save money by turning down the heat in the Countway Library of Medicine. In parts of the library to about 59°F. That is 15°C. Very funny.
In Berlin’s university libraries there might be leaks in the ceilings, torn off carpets, file cards, and construction noise. But at least I don’t get sick because I have to work for several hours, sittig still while the temperature is at 16 or 17° Celsius.
If you thought that Harvard would be this great place, the place where academics are pampered and where you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else: be warned! I for my part am looking forward to enter the welcoming warmth of Oslo’s university library when I get back…
Tags: Boston, financial crisis, Harvard, library, weather