A few words on German libraries: Michael and I also have been working at the Philologische Bibliothek at the Freie Universität (top and right photos). It is nicknamed "the brain" because of its shape. It's a nice and modern library, with good lighting and space to work, and you can actually access the stacks (instead of ordering a book for a librarian to go fetch for you), which is not so common in German libraries.
We also went to the StaBi (Staatsbibliothek), which is HUGE, and paid 25 EUR for year-long library privileges. (pictures below of this amazing space/building) We will still use our US libraries for ordering journal articles and book chapters, but here we can also check out books and use the reading room to study. We took a little tour of the library to help navigate the various check-out areas and processes, and the woman also explained a little bit about the history. There are two main branches, for what used to be East and West Berlin (Unter den Linden / Potsdamer Platz). Of course today they are linked and you can have books sent from one branch to the other, but it's interesting to hear about how the collection was divided after the war, and how some books have been lost in the process.
|pictures from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/osssia/4036209949/in/photostream/|
Also, at the StaBi you can't directly access any of the collection. You have to order what you want online, and it will be there after a few hours, or the next day if you order it late. You then enter a little area and find the book according to a number, and then go to circulation to check it out. But you can imagine us working hard in this awesome place! :)
Even at the public library, the local Berlin one, I had to pay 5 EUR for a membership. I know it's not much, but it's the principle. I like how in the US we have pretty good local libraries and they're free. Also, the closest local branch to me is the Amerika Gedenkbibliothek (below), which was sponsored by the Americans after the Berlin Air Lift, to promote freedom and democracy.
the plaque below, about the foundation of the library, is a quote from Jefferson about the "unlimited freedom of the human spirit"...about "truth" and "reason"