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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Education sessions

Last week we held the first education session regarding the new database system that will be implemented in June. It was a terrible experience. Pretty much everything went wrong. It turned out that the test database couldn't cope with that many people logged on at once. It crashed. We desperately tried to make the best of the situation and gave a completely unprepared presentation instead. I had the biggest and most complicated part. This experience was so bad we had to have a debriefing afterwards. The next day we had a session again and it went better because now we knew we had to give a presentation. I talked for over an hour and there were many questions (some of which we couldn't answer...). I have never really done something like this but my colleagues said I did well. For the next sessions starting tomorrow the technicians have made improvements to the test database. Hopefully, it will cope with the work load.

Saturday I went to the archive center to use some of their databases I don't have access to myself. One of my colleagues also joined me there. I visited mainly because my relative in Denmark called me and gave more details about a lost emigrant. I had gathered also other research questions and solved a few of them. I discovered some new information about emigrants on my father's side. While my grandfather was alive, I asked him if there were any living descendants of his aunt or first cousin who had emigrated to the US. He said that there were not. This is actually not correct. On the handwritten family tree put together probably by my grandmother more than 30 years ago there was a woman named Lynne born 1951 listed as a descendant. I have wondered about this and now I was able to find out more. Her mother died already in the 1950s and I think this might be why there was no more information, since the relationship was through her.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Danish relative

My birthday last week was not really celebrated. The only amusement was a chocolate cupcake I bought myself. That same day I went with a colleague to the storage to do some minor projects and to shelve. We got some things done but both of us injured our right hands in this process. She got more problems than I, my hand is better now but she still has hers bandaged. I also have back problems. It's the same as usual and I have made an appointment for Monday at the chiropractor's place.

Wednesday was the funeral for my mother's eldest brother in the home parish church. I did not attend it. I hadn't met him in many years.

Thursday evening I got a very surprising phone call - from Denmark. I have never met the woman who called but it didn't take many seconds before I understood who she was. She was not so interested in family history 20 years ago when I visited her brother and sister in Copenhagen but now she had started on it. We are related, however it's distant. We have common relatives in Australia and that's what she was mostly asking about. It was possible to understand her, even though she spoke Danish. She had actually found a clue for a lost emigrant in that family. Her call got me started on this research again and I spent time at work today to search for more information.

At work we got one more employee who started last week in the stacks. It was not necessary to teach her anything because she is the one who replaced me during my illness last year. She was already familiar with the job. We are very happy to have her back. We were really struggling to cope with our tasks. Many people have also been ill (all sorts of flus and colds) and some days we had to ask our boss and other staff members for help. The piles with returned books were gigantic and we lagged behind with everything. This past week we also got two students to help out by shelving both in the stacks and the open collection. The situation is better now, thankfully.

Yesterday I gave a short speech at a review regarding our new database system, which will be implemented in June. We have open meetings for all librarians once every two weeks so that they can come and ask questions and get news on the progress. It is a very big project. I discovered a bug in the new system (this was not really what the technicians hoped for but rather now than afterwards). They took it seriously and discussed it at length, before deciding to fix it during the migration in June. My speech was about this bug and how and why we need to fix it.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018


Last week at work was hectic with five meetings in three days plus lunch with a colleague from the History Museum. It turned out to be a longer week than I had planned on because a colleague was sick. I had to take her desk duty on the Thursday also. That evening I went to the summerhouse for the Easter weekend. My mother and her boyfriend were already there and my sister with family arrived the next day. Even though the weather was wild and crazy with lots of snow and high winds we did some excursions. Over Easter there are art exhibits everywhere in Skåne. Artists keep open houses and show their paintings, sculptures, photos and other things. We made it to Simrishamn one day to look at some pieces of art. It was bitterly cold so the visit didn't last that long but it was still nice. Easter is also about food and naturally there were some eggs consumed. On the Sunday we were invited to my father's place for a big meal. Herring, salmon, turkey, cheeses and Janson's Temptation for instance were served. Very tasty.

The large amount of snow meant some outdoor activities. My niece and I spent quite some time in the back yard (where there was 30 cm of snow) making a snowman and throwing snow balls. Great fun!

I had taken two days off this week so I left today to go home again. Of course the weather has now changed and it's spring weather instead. Sunny and much warmer. Before I left Kristianstad I spent several hours at the city library to do some research in their local collection. I found some more clues for my history projects in books we don't have at my library.

Monday last week I had a doctor's appointment. It was the one year check-up after my illness was discovered. It was a rather unusual visit. It lasted one hour and 20 minutes. (Normally they want you out of there in less than 15 minutes). The doctor was very talkative and when she heard that I had found a supplement in the health food store that is helping to ease the side effects of both the chemo and the medicine I'm on now, she wanted to know more. She was very meticulous and asked me lots of questions. We concluded that my situation was nearly acceptable but I was offered one more medicine (which I said yes to) and she wanted the surgeon to take a look at my scar. Only three days later I was sent a note from the surgeon, with a date for that check-up. There are many bad things you hear about the Swedish health care system but personally I can't complain. They have always taken me 100% seriously and have made sure I'm ok. There are always issues like waiting times and one or two people not really having the right job but in all I'm impressed by the fact that the health system actually functions.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Book sale

This Wednesday evening I went with two colleagues to listen to a lecture on DNA genealogy. I might have mentioned before that it's the latest in the world of genealogical research. The lecturer was the author of a book on the subject and he knew basically everything. It was a very interesting lecture and he mixed anecdotes and facts in a good way.

The most crazy day at work was suprisingly enough Friday. The madness started at 8 AM when it was clear that three people were off sick. I had desk duty and couldn't help much and in addition to this we hosted a study visit from a Croatian librarian. I basically gave her a pile of requests, pointed in the right direction and told her to find the books. There was no time for a lengthy introduction. Luckily, those call numbers are numbers, so it's relatively easy to give that job to a non-Swede.

Saturday there was a secondhand book sale arranged by Amnesty in Lund. I went with a colleague and also met one other colleague there. All three of us admit to being nerds in the field. We all look for books for ourselves but we also try to find books missing at our libraries. My purchase was the smallest, only four items (mainly relating to emigrants). We ended the visit in Lund by going out for a salad lunch.

Monday, March 19, 2018


I continued to be a patron for a few hours last week and had another go at the hard-to read letters. Thanks to two other colleagues we cracked some of it. I especially wanted a letter mentioning an old  manuscript deciphered and we managed that.

The week at work was as busy as ever. I had desk duty two days. The usual meetings are unavoidable, of course.

This Saturday my father and his girlfriend came to visit with the motor home. This was because I wanted to buy some pieces of furniture. I got a head board for my bed at one place and then we drove towards Malmö. There was a long wait on the freeway because there had been an accident but we made it to Ikea after a while. It was very crowded. We started out by having a very nice lunch. Then we opted for the somewhat shorter round and picked up a few things. I got a bedding set, a large bouquet of tulips and a rectangular footstool in blue color. At my apartment my father helped me with some minor repairs also.

It's still pretty cold here, it was 6 below zero this morning. The wind has calmed down a bit and the sun is shining so it's not that bad.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Praised bookservice

The article I wrote for the local historical society publication gave no response whatsoever but I guess not everyone is as interested in old archive material as I am. I wrote about a newly scanned archive series available online at the Riksarkivet website. I found my great grandfather's farm listed there, it stated how many cows he owned in 1917 and what kind of crops he grew in the fields, among other things.

At work I spend a lot of time weeding the reference collection. The current subject is Geography.

We have received much praise for our bookservice. One patron was just ecstatic about the fact that we were able to locate a unique book for her at the storage. She travelled from Blekinge province for this book and she sent a long thank you-note afterwards. She even sent this note to the newspaper, asking to have it published somehow. It feels rather odd to get such a response for doing one's ordinary job.

Last week I took one afternoon off and became a patron instead. I asked to have a volume from a manuscript archive retrieved. It contained over 300 letters written in the early 19th century by the owner of the Strö manor house to his nephew. There was a valuable book collection placed at Strö manor house 1785-1845 and I want to research this. It turns out that both these people had a handwriting that is extremely challenging to read. The manuscript librarian told me the nephew (who was of noble family) was famous for his illegible handwriting. I have 30 years experience and have to say not much was understandable. The last 20 letters or so were not possible to understand at all, the author was 87 years old by then and the letters were written with bad ink. Still, it was interesting to see the material and I could conclude that they did not discuss book-related issues in these letters.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

More research

Another busy week at work. I had to attend five meetings. I'm trying to learn the new database system we will install in June. The problem is that it is not near finished. Three of the meetings had to do with this new system. It's a pretty big challenge to create a teaching module for a system which is still being developed. We don't really know what the end result will look like. Or even if it will function, for that matter.

This past week there was a big misunderstanding between me and a colleague. She was sick Monday and we decided to switch desk duties so she would take mine on Friday instead. She forgot about it. Incredibly enough, no one noticed until about 1 PM, when the books from the storage round were still on the desk. We both rushed to get the tasks done and I hope the patrons didn't notice any of this. This week there were terrible problems with the trains and roads due to heavy snowfall and very high winds, so the number of patrons was rather low. Personally, I was lucky with the trains but several of my colleagues have been snowed in the entire week. Some people were able to work from their computer at home but not all.

I must have been one of very few people who still had a land-line phone but that is now cancelled. It was my phone company that decided to quit offering this kind of service so I decided it was time to let go. Now I only have the cellphone. It is for work but the subscription means free calls so I'm allowed to use it for private phone calls also.

Recently, I have engaged in quite a lot of research of various kinds. One research request and one article for the local historical society publication were finished a few weeks ago. I'm now gathering material for another (longer) article, relating to a book collection. At the same time I'm working on the bibliography for Norra Strö and have extended the search area to include also the nearby parishes.  It's all incredibly interesting and I wish there was more time for these things.