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Libraries in Seoul?

 
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Bendrix



Joined: 14 Oct 2003

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 6:03 pm    Post subject: Libraries in Seoul? Reply with quote

In a month I'll be in Seoul. I imagine that there are libraries with large English sections. Is it possible to get a library card on an e2 visa?
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dogbert



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: Killbox 90210

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 6:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple of years ago I went to one of the larger libraries in Seoul and got a library card. I don't believe that they will deny you one based on your visa status, but if your experience is anything like mine, it may take them a minute or two to get over the shock of what you are trying to do.

Anyway, for me at least, the libraries I've been to in Seoul are disappointing. There are very few English-language materials and what there are are usually outdated or missing altogether. Frankly, the Korean-language printed materials situation didn't seem all that much better.

The main library in Seoul (in Seocho-dong) is better, but does not offer checkout privileges.

My observation has been that instead of using libraries often, many Koreans patronize book rental shops.
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Bendrix



Joined: 14 Oct 2003

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for you're response. What about the English collections at the universities? I'm mainly looking for literary journals and contemporary fiction.
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dogbert



Joined: 29 Jan 2003
Location: Killbox 90210

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's a good question. I really don't know.

Here's a link to Seoul National University's library:

Seoul National University Library

HTH
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kimcheeking
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2003 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Bendrix wrote:
Thanks for you're response. What about the English collections at the universities? I'm mainly looking for literary journals and contemporary fiction.

You can not access a universtiy library unless you are a

  1. student
  2. staff
  3. alumni

You can not even get past the foyer as there are id checks. If you want to access them you better get a university job with a good library on campus. The library on my campus is not particularly good.
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Tobacco Fiend



Joined: 22 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2003 11:46 am    Post subject: Re: Libraries in Seoul? Reply with quote

Bendrix wrote:
In a month I'll be in Seoul. I imagine that there are libraries with large English sections. Is it possible to get a library card on an e2 visa?


Bendrix, you have hit a sore spot.

Back home in the States, I practically LIVED in libraries.

In fact, I earned my living, such as it was, in the library of a small liberal arts college once upon a time. Ah, blessed remembrance--the library life!

In Seattle, my Cathedral of Books was the UW's Suzzallo Library when I wasn't downtown at the main public library.

I came to Seoul in April of 2001 with the firm expectation that such a great metropolis, such a world city (did I really think that then?--Lordie!) would simply HAVE to boast at least ONE great library with plenty of English-language books on offer.

My library quest here in Seoul lasted all of about six months, after which I gave up, surrendered, quit the field, permanently.

As a fellow bookworm and _helluo librorum_, Bendrix, I hate to break this horrid piece of news to you, but there simply DOES NOT EXIST, in all of Seoul or Korea, a library with a decent stock of English-language books.

I've been to both the National Library (south of the river), and the National Assembly Library on Yeouido. These are Korea's two "libraries of record," ie, their (pathetic) approximations of the US Library of Congress.

Yes, you can find a few English-language books in each.

A few.

Neither one has a circulating collection.

At the National Asssembly Library, the stacks are closed and none of the staff speak any English. (Or at least they didn't when I was there two years ago.)

At the Namsan Public Library, which is multi-story and touted as something great, you will simply be told, "No English books." They'll refer you to the National Library, where you will find back copies of the Observer, a life of George Orwell, a Margaret Atwood or two, and precious little more on offer.

Universities . . . forget about it, as far as I've been able to discern. Even if you enroll in a full-time Korean language course at Sogang or Ewha they will not let you use the library.

Sadness abounds without ceasing. To be in Korea is to be without access to an English-language library, and there's simply nothing to be done about it.

UNLESS you go online and develop an insatiable appetite for all the expired-copyright stuff. Shakespeare, Darles Chickens (which Dave's automatic censor-a-tron will write as *beep* if I don't transpose the letters--come ON, Dave, is the author of Bleak House truly THAT obscene?), Wilkie Collins, Max Beerbohm, P.G. Wodehouse--all the grand old worthies of Eng Lit--all just a click of the mouse away and free of charge.

For anything more contemporary, it's either pay a pretty penny to outright BUY the things you want,

or else

wait

until your sentence in Korea has been commuted, suspended, or otherwise brought to a gracious and blessed close.

SORRY TO DISAPPOINT YOU, BENDRIX!

Tobacco Fiend
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Bendrix



Joined: 14 Oct 2003

PostPosted: Thu Oct 16, 2003 1:54 pm    Post subject: Heavy Luggage Reply with quote

Thanks for your response. I've decided to bring plenty of reading material. I might even buy 100 novels from the Dalkey Archive Press before I leave. They specialize in contemporary world literature (not so much Asian literature yet). Some of the authors they have published are Flann O'Brien, Gertrude Stein, Gilbert Sorrentino, Jiri Grusa, Millhauser, Scott Gail, Jacque Roubaud and so on. Right now they have a special sale. IF anyone is interested check out www.centerforbookculture.org ( the site is not lacking in content, so you might find an author to put on your wish list for Christmas).


They offer internships too, for those who speak another language. SO if anyone with literary aspirations wants to live in Chicago, go for it.
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