Library Wise

(18./31.jan.2017) On this slightly dark mid-winter Wednesday I had an errand to do at the Frederiksberg Town Hall. Just a small technicality that was quickly settled with help from the, as I have learned, always very friendly and helpful staff.

It’s just a short walk from the City Hall to the Metro, and you happen to pass by the Frederiksberg Central Library. Although I have (from 10 to 20 years ago) visited this library very, very often, albeit perhaps not daily, I rarely use its facilities now. I was today reminded of some of the reasons why.

There is a somwhat gloomy atmosphere meeting you when you enter the entrance hall area as giant surveillance camera pods oogle you from everywhere. In the main, eastern, reading hall another giant camera pod is centrally placed to be able to cover almost all of the reading area.

I don’t remember to have ever read anyone, whether layman, politician, journalist or intellectual questioning the wisdom of having your public library reading habits pried into by … Yes by whom, really?

Question: Who have access to the surveillance camera “tapes” or recordings. 1. Are the recordings locally stored? 2. Can they only be accessed by the library staff? 3. Alternatively, who else can access the recordings? 4. Who gives permit and on which principles? 5. Are the cameras on-line? 6. If so, are they on-line in real time? 7. Who can legally access the records while online? 8. Who can illegally access records online?

Imagine you visited your library, any labrary, say in the 1960’ties or 70’ties and experienced appros. the following: a) Soon as you enters the library a photographer pops up and fires a flash in your face to register you entering the library. b) Every time you move from one area of the library to another a photographer pops up and “shoot” your whereabout. c) If you stop in front of a book-case you are likewise photographed. d) Every time you take down a book from a shelf you are photographed. e) Every daily or magazine you read are likewise photographed. f) Every time you turn a page reading, you are photographed. g) If you bring a computer, you and your computer make are photographed. h) Depending on your position in (one of) the reading rooms, your computer display may be photographed. g.) When you leave the library you are photographed (together with the library clock).

Anyone having used public libraries in the 60’ties or 70’ties should acknowledge that this would be a pretty scaring scenario. In fact it would be TOTALLY impossible as everyone in those days would instantly understand that some horrible entities were trying to abuse their power in a sick, insane and totally unacceptable way.

But it seems that most of us, slice by slice have lost most of our common sense?

To-day I wanted to find out if you could still read the main foreign papers; if there might possibly still be chair and table for you and your computer; and if you could still read f.i. New Scientist and Scientific American “on paper”.

Papers: The foreign dailies were quickly counted – Le Monde, The Guardian, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Liberation and a Spanish paper. Then also two weeklies: The Observer and Die Zeit. That’s it!

So no International Herald Tribune (I belive they now call it The International New York Times?), no Times, no WallStreet Journal, no Financial Times, no Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, no Figaro, no Neue Zürcher Zeitung, no Svenske Dagbladet, no Sydsvenskan. Really – almost no nothing!

All these respected papers were there 20 years ago. In these days I read Intl. Herald Tribune almost daily, when I felt rich I bought it, else in the library; even a few cafe’s sported it.

I have to admit I miss it (and also the FAZ), but alas, it has become too expensive and time consuming to read printed dailies beside all the alternative news sites you HAVE to scan if you don’t want to be altogether too uninformed. It has of course to be mentioned that these papers, as far as I know, can be read via the library’s homepage.

There was also no New Scientist (I almost can’t believe this either), but Scientific American was standing – slightly aenemic I’m afraid? – on the shelf.

The friendly and as always very helpful staff informed me that Frederiksberg Municipality recently cut the librarys budget by abt 700.000 kr ($100,000) and so they had to cut their subscriptions to the bone.

Frederiksberg is one of the wealthiest communities in Denmark, has about 80.000 inhabitants, but off hand one almost get the inpression of visiting a village library. The reading room has 12 small tables for individual use. They were all occupied.

Only four of these tables have access to a power plug in for your computer. This is a stark reduction from f.i. 5 years ago. I seem to remember there were plug-ins hanging from the lamp-post by all individual tables

In the west end of the reading room there are half a dozen (or slightly more?) round tables large enough to accomodate 3 or 4 readers. Most of these tables still have one plug-in hanging from the lamp post.

Above and around the main hall is a gallery with individual tables for readers. I believe a few of these tables formerly had plug ins for computers. I made it a point to look carefully to-day and can state with confidence that not one plug in is left.

Keep in mind, that the library wi-fi facilities may not least be used by those with small budgets making it difficult for them to pay for individual wi-fi links; that might f.i. be students and pensioners. And remember that you have to pay the rather stiff DR-TV license fee (abt. 2500 kr p.a.) if you subscibe to a wi-fi link, even if you don’t own a TV-set or even a radio.

Summing up: Here we may reasonably often deal with rather poor people with no wi-fi or with cramped space at home. People who don’t necessarily sport the latest Mac with fresh batteries (even new computer batteries may have a surprisingly short life-span). The Library may say they have laptops for rent (about twenty at present?) – but that of course is only a makeshift solution for many. You won’t necessarily be able to easily bring all the data you need. And if you basically work with Mac or Linux you’re sunk!

So how come it’s so important to remove plug ins for use with visitors computers? I can hardly believe this idea has been hatched in the Frederiksberg City Hall. They must be inspired by someone else? Perhaps the Secret Police? Or even Microsoft?

Without power plug ins poor people with old computers may be severely handicapped. And the TPTB usually dont want to have to deal with “old” computers with old software that is usually not nearly as snoopy as f.i. Windows10. Also an old computer might have been bought second hand and hence much more difficult for the Secret Police to follow illegally?

And by now I guess we should all have learnt: that we are in fact already living in a Police State where the interests of the Police and in particular the Secret Police is valued above all else?

Obviously almost no one has learned anything at all from the stark warnings from former Chief (director) of P.E.T. (danish Secret Service and Secret Police) Ole Stig Andersen, who some years ago wrote that P.E.T. was in fact now becoming (both a Secret Service and) a Secret Police and as such could become a dangerous “State within the State”? (discussed here ).


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