“Man muss”: Library Lockers

I love me a good library, so naturally, that was one of the first things we wanted to check out at the Uni. It was probably a poor first choice for something to check out, since it almost immediately screeched to a halt, with a librarian yelling at us in German at the front desk.

After it became clear that saying the same thing over and over to us in German was not going to make us understand, a student checking out at the desk offered to take us outside and explain, in English.

The problem, she told us, was our bags and jackets. To go into the library, we had to leave our things in one of these (she tapped on the door of one in a row of lockers). Just drop a 2 euro coin into the slot. We thanked her profusely and she hurried off to class. Then we stared at the locker, and at each other.

2 euros just to enter the library? That was ridiculous! We didn’t need to do this! What a stupid system! We’re Americans, damn it! We huffed off and promptly refused to ever enter the library, ever. Except after it was all over, this weird exchange had still piqued my interest.

Why were students, of all people, willing to drop 2 euros every time they wanted to go into the library? Had socialism addled their brains, making them believe that this was a contribution to the greater good? Plus, how do they bring in, like, their booklearning materials? Are they allowed to have any?

After a significant amount of time spent lurking and watching, I finally heard a telltale sound while a girl was opening her locker one day:

CLINK.

I glanced over and saw her retrieve the 2 euro coin, along with the contents of her locker. Bingo. Of *course* you get it back. All of the pieces fell into place.

Another piece that has since fallen into place – at the front desk, you can ask for a laptop bag (“Laptoptasche”), a sturdy, clear bag designed to hold your laptop. Really, you can stick anything into it (that’s allowed in the library). I’m not sure what the reason for this system is, other than they want to prevent ‘non-library’ items from entering the library and prevent books from leaving. I don’t know if this is the system everywhere in Germany – it was never the case when I lived in Spain, and I’ve never seen a system quite like this in the U.S.

With a little more traveling, we started to see this coin system at various museum locker rooms (though it’s usually just a 1 euro coin). And though this is the tiniest of details, it does bring to light the magnitude of changes that would have to happen if the euro were ever, um, discontinued (shall we say): would all of these locker systems need to be redone to fit the new/old Deutschmark or equivalent currency?

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9 responses to ““Man muss”: Library Lockers

  1. They still do that, huh? I grew up with this “locker coin system” and never really got the point. Do they think if they didn’t hold a coin hostage, we would abandon our poor locker? But it’s been like that forever!
    And don’t worry, as far as I remember, the DM coins and the EUR coins have the same size. 🙂

    • Yes, DM coins and EUR coins do have the same size. So if you find an old 1DM coin this is very useful because lockers/shopping trolleys and the like work with it and you will never spend it and therefore always have it in your purse… We even have fake coins just for lockers and trolleys here in Germany… 😉

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  3. lol sounds a bit like when we went to Schwetzingen’s Schloss. Everyone started putting their bags in lockers. I thought maybe it was optional, like it would be at most places in the US…for people who had large bags. I had a tiny purse so I figured I wouldn’t bother. Wrong. The tour guide figured out we didn’t know what was going on and told us in English that no bags or cameras were allowed inside and we’d have to use a locker. I can’t imagine not being able to take other books into a library…what if you’re working on a project for a class or something and need both your textbook and supplemental materials?

    • You can take books into the library – you just need to take anything that you’re bringing into the library in the clear plastic bag. Anything that you don’t want to bring (books, etc. that you aren’t using) or can’t bring (big puffy jacket) goes into the library locker outside…or in my husband’s office, if you haven’t figured out the locker system yet 🙂 It requires a lot of pre-planning but I guess it keeps the library cleaner/safer/something else positive that I haven’t figured out yet…? Is the army library not like this?

      • Ah ok. I misunderstood. Well, that’s a little better. lol well at least you had his office to keep things in. I guess if it has to be a clear bag no one could take anything dangerous and people would probably only take what’s needed. I’ve seen US schools require only carrying a clear plastic bag but I’ve not seen a library that did.

        Nope, the army library allows carrying bags in. They even ha’ve have a whole book case for a ‘paperback book swap’ where people can bring in their unwanted books and pick up ones people left behind.

  4. Pingback: The Grass is Always Greener. And Possibly Made of Chocolate. | Wie sagt man...?·

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