November 05, 2005

The library and why it sucks

I would like to state here publically that the library is a complete waste of everybody's afternoon. Or whatever time you spend there. In my case, most of the morning.

What, pray tell, is the point of having a huge building full of books if none of them are actually any use? I've spent most of the morning trying to find books to help me with my fourth year project, and not one, not a single book was any use. There are no books in the library on motorsport, brake design, suspension design, upright design or anything related to these areas. There are, of course, endless books which discuss unapplied theory in abundance, but what is the point of all of this, really? Learning for learning's sake is all well and good if that's what you're into, but some people have practical concerns and wish to actually do something in the world instead of umming and ahhhing at lots and lots of theory that is impossible to use in any meaningful way on complex real-world problems. That is, unless you have the intellect of Stephen Hawking and have a few years to write computer programs to perform immensely complicated calculations to then make some sense of the theory translated onto your specific problem. Which I don't. Therefore, I am giving up permanently on the library and going to go and buy a couple of good books myself instead, and use the internet and forums to find out information when I need it. Which is infinitely more helpful in the first place.

Library funding: don't increase it. Scrap the whole bloody building.


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  1. Now you know how I felt about all the theory taught in Mechanical engineering. Now fair enough that is less in depth and more useful, but I still felt it discussed the theoretical world and not the real world. Like that problem you showed me the other night where you converted the robot arm into a series of links. Fine make a model of it, but that model took no account of the fluid in which that arm was moving (It might have been air, water or molasses) but it's ok because there was a nice equation to plug numbers into. I'd rather do real world engineering solving real world problems than believe blindly in the formulaic world. The only useful books I've found in the Library belong to the Microsoft Server series, and I only got them from the library because I'm too tight to splash £800 on the set.

    05 Nov 2005, 14:14

  2. Lindsey

    Well hunny, not everyone in those courses wants to be learning theory ;) They are just forced to. lol

    05 Nov 2005, 17:48

  3. I only went in there for the first time a few weeks into my second year…

    …and that's cos I wanted a desk.

    05 Nov 2005, 17:49

  4. We know for a fact that the library contains no/very few useful race car design books – but this isn't hugely surprising, given they would serve an absolute maximum of 20 people in the whole university. Once the team's raised its first £25k, it would be well worth looking into stocking a little WFS library.

    The FSAEer's bible will always be the famous RCVD by Milliken & Milliken. Tim Goodhead said he actually bought this with his own money for the first WFS team (2001–02) but it went walkies the same year.

    All of the Carroll Smith books are technical and extremely easy to read: for car setup and especially suspension geometry (an obvious prerequisite for upright design!), Tune to Win is excellent; check out Engineer to Win; and it could ideally be useful to have someone on the team who knows Prepare to Win too!

    Other than that, there's a very accessible (although backgroundish) technical book by Wright and a heavily theoretical/mathematical and wide-ranging book called the Bosch Automotive Handbook (covers all aspects of car technology, not just racing cars). Also recommended is a book by Staniforth (famous hillclimb-manufacturing veteran who came to John Hilton's IMechE talk earlier this year), and another mathematical one by Olley.

    Disclaimer: I've only read about 2 of the above! However, the others are all extremely well-known within FSAE; all should be required reading in years 1-3 for anyone thinking of getting involved in the mechanical side of WFS!

    05 Nov 2005, 19:13

  5. Arnold Blocklyn

    Try…

    link

    …i think they've simplified those 'unusable' theories (i.e. Newtons laws of motion) to something of real merit!

    Failing this – "The AA Book of the car", if it's still in print, in indispensable!

    05 Nov 2005, 20:32

  6. Thanks for the links SiY, will go and duly spend some money!

    06 Nov 2005, 00:34

  7. Gav

    If the library doesn't have the book you want, you should ask them to buy it for you.

    06 Nov 2005, 18:32

  8. Library

    Never heard of Inter Library Loans?

    Maybe if you'd looked into things a bit more before ranting here that would have been a better idea.

    The library offer short sessions at the start of the year show students how to use the library to best effect, maybe it would have been worth you taking one of these, that way you'd be familiar with the journals there too and how you could have searched for books and articles from home over the internet. There are many ways to search the library's resources that are better than going through stuff yourself.

    06 Nov 2005, 21:49

  9. Anthony Zuiker

    As the owner of the "CSI" band, I must demand that you remove your website forthwith!

    CBS and myself hold the exclusive rights to "CSI: [location]" including "CSI: Gournay" which is currently in production along with "CSI: Seaesseye", "CSI: Falkirk", "CSI: Scunthorpe" and the controversial "CSI: Baghdad".
    As I'm sure you are already well aware, Gournay is a sleepy provincial French town. In "CSI: Gournay" a wave of new murders are solved by a dashing team of american detectives, with sexy results.

    Clearly your website "CSIgournay" has infringed on our copyrights. I demand that you remove it lest it breed confusion amongst our millions of followers.
    (who would need the whole problem explained to them in mind-numbingly simple terms – ideally in the form of a conversation between two or more experts with CGI backup. And we're just not prepared to spend that kind of money, are you?)

    06 Nov 2005, 22:13

  10. We have without doubt one of the worst library's in the Russell Group

    10 Nov 2005, 13:56

  11. Bloody scientists and their book burning ways!

    14 Nov 2005, 09:20

  12. Got nothing against books. I just wish some of them were useful!

    14 Nov 2005, 10:01


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