Historical Resources: Library Resources

There’s a saying in Portugal:
Lisbon shows off, Braga prays, Coimbra studies, and Porto works.

Having visited three of the four cities, I can see why they say that.

But what does that have to do with my historical research?

This Monday I picked up some books (term used loosely) that the library system had gathered and reserved for me. Our library lends out all forms of media, so two of those books were DVDs of Rick Steves travel guides. Now we’re faithful watchers on Rick Steves on PBS and we even catch him on the radio, but one of the problems with travel guide DVDs is that they rarely go where you want them to.

Try finding a travel DVD that covers Porto (in English and more than just the cathedral). It’s not easy. Porto is a working city, not a tourist town.

I’m beginning to think Lleida might have the same problem that Porto has. Although the DVDs I just got cover Barcelona and Sevilla, they skipped Lleida. Just not touristy enough.

This brings me around full circle to the one problem with using libraries as resources. Libraries have to serve the public. They have to have the right books/DVDs/cassettes/etc stored in their finite amount of space to satisfy their clientele. That means obscure books that don’t get checked out…end up going to book sales or worse.

So if someone wrote a book on Lleida, it’s no longer in my library system. In fact, even the 2 Catalonia travel guides only give it 2 paragraphs. So all but one of my library resources are going back early. This isn’t because the library is bad but because what I’m researching is obscure.

(I’m keeping the set of Barcelona crime fiction short stories, Barcelona Noir, for a bit longer, hoping to get some ‘atmosphere’ out of it.)

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