According to the formula ‘Closer to the student’ the TU Delft Library organises informal meetings between the rector and students. Read how Marion Vredeling ended up in the Plateelkasteel also known as the Library House.
Text: Marion Vredeling
While attending a drinks reception organised for the service desk staff, I discovered that the service desk is largely staffed by a group of students who, surprisingly, all live in the same house, a house known as the Plateelkasteel, i.e. the “Plateel Palace”. This caught my attention because, in my capacity of project manager, I am always on the lookout for suitable student houses where we can hold meetings between students and the Rector Karl Luyben, under the heading “The Paper: Reading with the Rector”. And being seconded to the Library myself, I saw an interesting opportunity to give one of these evenings a Library-themed flavour.
After an initial visit to the house we agreed on the evening of 19 April for the event. And because, in addition to good service desk staff, the palace also houses some decent cooks, we were invited to come to dinner as well. Karel Luyben is always very pleased with such invitations because he likes an informal atmosphere.
The students always prepare these evenings thoroughly, together with the project manager and the Rector. At the start of the evening, a handout is passed round which includes a number of propositions and some background information to go with them. The contributors introduce their own propositions and after that, the discussion can begin. The propositions are debated on three different levels. I.e: actuality, TU Delft subject and personal matters.
The topics discussed during these evenings vary from students who feel isolated (in relation to the shootings in Alphen aan de Rijn) to cooperation between the technical universities in the 3TU.Federation v. regional cooperation between Leiden, Rotterdam and Delft.
In addition to its function as a Learning Centre, the University Library should also be a meeting place for students, where they can network and relax.
Karel Luyben: ‘The library should become entirely virtual.’
For this particular proposition, Wilma van Wezenbeek, who has since been appointed as the director of the Library, came along to clarify the situation and join the debate. At first the students were mainly critical of the added inconvenience they experienced at the Library, based on the idea that it is first and foremost a place meant for study. After Wilma provided an explanation of the Library’s policy and its transformation into the Library Learning Centre, the students seemed to have gained a better understanding of the backgrounds to the recent changes and additional activities.
A popular part of the paper reading evening is the inspection tour of the rooms. As we made our way past a huge pile of clothing for general use during parties and events, we were pleasantly surprised to discover actual bookshelves containing textbooks. And we were in for an even greater surprise downstairs, where we were shown an extra room fitted with a wooden bar which used to be part of the former library building on Schuttersveld. This room has the same function as the Library’s staff bar, and even has the same name, ’t Praethuys.
Wilma was very enthusiastic about the way the evening turned out. The photograph, which shows Karel Luyben being borne aloft, provides a clear indication that this night was a great success. We have been arranging these evenings once a month since 2005, and it is always a great pleasure to hold this kind of event.