From time to time, Folia asks an employee, student, teacher or professor to talk about his workplace. Kashmindra Vrede (40) works at the IWO book depot, the central storage facility of the university library of the UvA and Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.
Who are you and what do you do?
‘I’m Kasmindra and I work at the IWO book depot, which is the library for the UvA and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. We make sure that all books, theses, scientific publications and newspapers are delivered to the right university library locations in Amsterdam when requested. We also label books and theses and fix books if broken.’
What does your workplace look like?
‘There are three floors, each about the size of a soccer field, with rows upon rows of books. There’s about one hundred kilometres of shelves. I’ve definitely not seen everything (in fact there’s a fourth floor but I’ve never been), and the place is so big some days I won’t see all my colleagues.’
What do you like about it?
‘The fact we never sit still (we don’t have fixed work places). And I love the old books. I like things that existed before I did, and I remember how overwhelmed I was when I first started working here by how special it is to work with all these old editions. By now I find it more normal, but I’ll still peek through the books when I have time. I also enjoy the feeling when everything’s ready to go at 15:00, and when people tell us they appreciate the quick service. And I like how we’re encouraged to initiate our ideas. A colleague got the chance to develop and produce the ‘swindle’, a tool to open the shelf cabinets more easily.’
What do you dislike about it?
‘It’s quite far from the other departments of the University Library, which are closer to the city centre. And like I said, now that working with these old books is normalised, it can feel a little less special. But that doesn’t make my work less fun.’