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Monday, May 18, 2015

Research in Vadstena

After a complicated four and a half hour trip by three different trains and one bus I arrived in Vadstena Tuesday at noon. I went there to do research at the Regional archive. They have the Swedish Match company archive. The entire Swedish Match archive consists of more than 1000 shelf meters of material. I had "only" requested 51 volumes, containing correspondence, clippings and staff files. It was incredibly interesting to read the correspondence between my great grandfather and his bosses. They discussed everything from importing chlorate and oranges to currency exchange rates and taxes. It's evident that keeping up the normal trade during World War II was close to impossible and they tried to find other suppliers than European ones. Several of my questions were answered by this material. I have found out exactly when he was employed (Nov 11, 1919) and what his salary was (at least some years). After the financial crash of 1932 he was laid off for technical reasons (they couldn't fulfil the statutes of his contract). But he was employed again, with another contract and a considerable pay cut. Others weren't so lucky. Many people lost their jobs at that time.

The archive closed at 8 p.m. that day and I was there until then. The only restaurant I could find was a pizza place, so I went there for a meal. I stayed overnight at a B & B, which was very nice. Old style house with winding stairs. The next morning I made a visit to the abbey church, which is a very large church from the 15th century. It holds the relics of our most famous nun, Saint Bridget (1303-1373). Vadstena is a very picturesque place, but I didn't see much of it as I had to go back to the archive. After one more day of research I was pretty tired and my hand hurt. I had written 32 pages in my notebook. One bus ride and three train rides later I arrived back home late in the evening. It was definitely worth the trip, I have found so many new details about my great grandfather's life and work.

Thursday was a holiday so I got a chance to rest after the archive visit. I spent some time in front of the computer to search for more information about certain things I had read about in the files in Vadstena. Friday I worked, which was rather stressful as we were only three people in the stacks and the other two had desk duty also. In the afternoon I went to the summerhouse. My mother has now moved down for the season. My sister and family were visiting. We did some chores, but also played with the kids and did some minor shopping (my mother wanted to plant flowers in the garden, so we got some). There had been new cabinet doors installed in the kitchen and it looked very nice. My mother is planning on getting new flooring and wallpaper also.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mummified bishop

Last week was fairly busy at work. This entire spring has been unusual when it comes to the number of meetings I have had to attend. I'm a member of several task forces and it's just incredible how many meetings I have been to the past few months. I'm booked almost every day. The most interesting thing that happened last week was something else - a visit to the History museum's storage. Last fall they opened a coffin where a mummified body from the 17th century was placed. It was the bishop of Lund, Peder Winstrup (1605-1679). He was the bishop there even after the Swedes won the war with Denmark and Skåne became Swedish. He was the one who suggested to the Swedish king that Lund should have a university. The museum curator told us that it's thanks to Mr Winstrup we have a job. The university was founded in 1666. His body was well preserved for being so old. It was remarkable to see it. We were given a thorough lecture about the bishop and his life, along with details of his health. They had run him through a CT scan and found that he had had dental caries, tb and gout. His body is a unique opportunity to study the living situation for the people in Lund at the end of the 17th century. The investigations will continue for quite a while.

The weekend was spent shopping at two different malls in the Malmö area, but the results were meagre. A scarf at a second hand store and two tunics. Today I had taken time off to go to Malmö city archive. I did research there occasionally when it was in another building, but they have since moved into a much better place. It's much more modern and easy to access now. I went there to look at a personal archive handed in by an in-law to my great grandmother's family. I knew there would be some information also about them, but it turned out that I already had those details. It was still interesting to see it, it was family history research done about 100 years ago.

Tomorrow I'm going to yet another archive. It's a much longer trip and I hope it will be worth while.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Educational week

As a part of the reference collection project four of us walked a few hundred meters to the humanities library to talk to the librarians. They had recently moved their books and had been forced to downsize a lot, turning five different reference collections into one. They had also changed the call number system to Dewey, which we still haven't made any decisions about. It was interesting to see how they had done it, even though their reference books make up less than a tenth of our collection.

Wednesday the social club at work arranged an event many of us attended. One of the last Holocaust survivors came to talk about her experiences. Her origin was in Poland and she had survived walking from there to northwestern Germany and then spent several months in a death camp. Aged 90, she still remembered dates and places, names and faces. She had just made a return visit to Bergen-Belsen, which was liberated by the British forces 70 years ago this April. She said that her body was present but her mind was still back there. It was the first time I had heard anyone talk about these things in person, and it was just as horrible to hear as you can imagine. She talked non-stop for two hours and 20 minutes with the audience in full attention. Very, very educational.

Thursday was the big spring party day for the students and just as I thought there were no visitors in the manuscript reading room. I sat there guarding an empty room. Friday was May 1st, traditionally the day when politicians give speeches and there are labor union demonstrations. I did not attend any of it. Saturday I was at work for a few hours and then I made use of one event-ticket I was given for my birthday. It was a guided city walk, the theme was Women in Lund. It was the first time they arranged it. We got to hear about the wives of professors, housekeepers of prominent persons, women photographers, doctors and authors and a few more. The time span was 1300-1950, so a pretty wide scope. It was quite interesting. The guide even said she had been to my library to do research for it!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Housewarming party

The week at work was pretty intense. I doubled most of my regular chores because other people were absent. I had to drive the storage round twice. While I was there I managed to shelve the contents of 13 boxes also. It was video cassettes with interviews done more than 20 years ago. For some odd reason we have to store them, even though most of them probably can't be viewed anymore.

I have a tendency to get involved in other colleague's projects. Either by invitation or accident. Friday I was asked to join some colleagues who were going to pick up some books at an estate. The owner of a printing house had passed away and he had wished our library to get his personal books. We couldn't take all of them (he had hundreds of shelf meters in his apartment and a basement storage), but we picked out a total of 16 boxes. I was invited on the last visit to scan the remaining shelves to look for books we didn't have. I added to the load by about 20 books.

Thursday we had the annual social club meeting. I have been the chairwoman for a few years now and the meetings tend to get shorter and shorter. I think we broke last year's record and finished in 18 minutes. Afterwards we had a great buffet with salmon and shrimp.

Friday evening a colleague had invited eight of us for a housewarming party. He had made broccoli quiche and rhubarb pie, and we were all very impressed by all of it. We had a very good time and I came home rather late. The weekend has been slow, I did some washing and I brought down the balcony furniture. I have also washed the windows, which was very much in need.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Spring party

Last week quite a few things happened at work. Like usual, I attended a few meetings, but I also did a user study. I stood near the reference collection and watched how the students use those books. The results were very disappointing. They hardly ask for them. During one hour a total of two students looked for reference books. There is no crowd. There is one major reason for this - the internet. Many encyclopedias and dictionaries are online these days. We have 1650 shelf meters in our reference collection and we have to downsize it. As far as I know the collection has never been weeded, so we are some librarians who will look into that matter. It's a long term project.

There was a new exhibit opened Friday, with a large selection of ephemera print. It's calendars, postcards, catalogues, instruction manuals, timetables, posters, phone books, flyers, local community prints and much, much else. They want to make the ephemera collection more widely known, so they have spread this material out all over the library's open spaces. It was interesting to see, the focus was Sweden in the 20th century.

Thursday the library closed early (very unusual) because we were going to have a spring party! It was some sort of a party to celebrate the fact that some of us got new offices. Any reason to have a party at the employer's expense is embraced. We had a quiz about university buildings and I didn't get many of those answers right (even though I pass by some of the buildings regularly). The food was very tasty: Italian style meal with chicken and lots more. There were leftovers and many of us got lunch the next day.

Last week I got a parcel in the mail. It was a consolation prize in a consumer competition. I'm guessing my mother had entered my name in it. I won a DVD set with a TV-series. Too bad it wasn't the first prize - it was a trip to London.

Today I cracked a very difficult case at work. It was a question about a person's correct name. I had a misinterpreted last name and first initial to start with, along with the street name (no number) where this person had lived in 1986. It was challenging, but I found it by going through all the people living in this street according to the 1990 Swedish census.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Shopping day in Copenhagen

The first workday last week was Tuesday. My colleagues in the manuscript reading room had called a meeting at 8.15 that day and less than half the staff members attended. For obvious reasons. Way too early in the day after a long weekend.

The physiotherapist visited me at my desk Wednesday and she had complaints about my chair. So do I, but we will get new ones so it was not a big issue. Apart from that everything was fine. I attended a few other meetings last week and especially one was frustrating because no one understood that I was right and everybody else was wrong...

The visit at work over the weekend was short. I only went there to book some tickets for a trip in May. Spent Saturday afternoon in Lund, going to several second hand stores. No major purchases, though. Since I have too many overtime hours, I had to take time off today. I went on a shopping trip to Copenhagen. It takes about an hour to get to one of the malls (two train rides and one metro ride). One of my favorite stores is a small shop in a suburban mall, where I usually get very nice clothes. Also this time, a long tunic in green pattern. I also visited several other shops in the city center and the biggest mall in Scandinavia, Field's. I'm pretty tired now after all that walking.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter weekend

Last week at work was shorter than normal, we worked until Thursday afternoon. All the staff members in the stacks were pretty tired on Tuesday, after having shelved such a large number of books the previous day. Again, my back problems were clearly noticeable. Tuesday we also noticed that our dear colleagues hadn't succeeded in doing our job to 100% on the Monday, so we had some catching up to do. Mainly sorting returned books. I think I sorted six carts on the Tuesday, which is a lot for one day.

Friday I went to the summerhouse by train and bus. My mother and two of her friends were there. Easter is traditionally the time when painters, sculptors and other artists display their works to the public, either at open houses or gathered at a venue like a hotel lobby or community center. Saturday we went to Åhus to look at some of it. It was bitterly cold outside even though the sun was shining, so it was a short round. We did some garden work later, clearing away fallen branches and old leaves. Sunday was my birthday and several people came for afternoon coffee and cake. My aunt, my father and a few friends showed up. I got some nice presents also: three egg cups, a cushion (made by my mother), a kitchen towel, two event tickets, a bracelet (made by my mother from an elastic band and colorful buttons!), a toiletry bag and chocolate & candy. My father also brought the paintings he has which were painted by Arndt (his grandfather). I took photos of them, some will be included in the book I'm writing about Arndt.

Apart from this, Easter was a lot about eating. Swedes consume an enormous amount of boiled eggs during this weekend. We had eggs every day, plus lots of pickled herring, smoked salmon and Jansson's temptation (potato dish with anchovy). Today we visited some of my mother's friends for lunch - chicken. Not a single egg in sight! It tasted great though, especially the dessert, which was apple pie. I returned home this afternoon by train.