(james benedict brown) on the road

James has his bad days

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 9 December, 2006

BMM and I had planned to go to Lincoln this weekend for the Christmas market, but then we’d also been planning to go to the cinema every Monday since the start of term. These grand ideas of bourgeois co-habitation don’t always work out when you’re still a busy student. Maybe tomorrow.

Seriously, maybe we’ll go to Lincoln tomorrow. I think the market will still be on. Or maybe some more work will get in the way.

At various moments during the last week I have lost all self control and blurted out something along the lines of:

“—- it, let’s just move to Canada…”

And it is quite likely that this could become a motto for me whenever I get fed up or exhausted dealing with the bits of British life. Admittedly Canadian banks, transportation systems, tax departments and postal services are no less bureaucratic, overpriced and unreliable as those in Britain, but from this distance and with the passing of time I’m inclined to be more forgiving to them.

The imaginary box marked “don’t get James started about these things” contains at this moment: Royal Mail (for not knocking on the door when they couldn’t get a parcel through the letterbox, and then leaving a card with a dead phone number on it to arrange re-delivery), Virgin Trains (for padding the seats of their cross-country trains with wood, lead and other non-comfy materials) and the chancellor of the University of Sheffield, who has cut our departmental budget and apparently that of our university library in order to build an Information Commons as a shining monument to him in his final years in this job. Nobody seems to know what an Information Commons is, but it does mean that instead of having one central library with one central collection of books, the most frequently borrowed books are now being split across two buildings. I can only suppose that this is his last year because he’s been fired.

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  1. Martin Lewis said, on 23 December, 2006 at 15:42


    Sorry to disappoint you, but the (Vice) Chancellor (the Chancellor’s role is largely ceremonial) didn’t cut the University Library’s budget to build the Information Commons, a project that the University Library and the computing service actually developed together. And one central Library? The University Library currently operates eight sites. The Information Commons will enable it to reduce that figure to five by 2008/09. Wondering what the Information Commons is? Look at


    and you’ll find out. The concept for the modern information commons as a learning space that embraces both library and IT services could be said to have originated in …Canada, at the University of Calgary


    and a more ambitious recent project that’s comparable in scale with Sheffield’s is the University of Auckland’s


    These facilities have been incredibly popular with students, and the concept, fusing academic and social space, offers exciting architectural opportunities, which Sheffield’s architects RMJM have certainly taken.


    Martin Lewis
    Director of Library Services

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