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Sunday, April 13, 2014


The week at work was interesting. I usually don’t work seven days in a row, but these are exceptional times. These upcoming days will be my last workdays for several months, so I have to clear my desk and file away documents. I have noticed that I have an incredible amount of private things here also (mostly relating to family history research). We have had several meetings and I have written a few instruction manuals for my colleagues. They have started to show signs of nervousness and ask me a lot of questions. I’m the one who has been in the stacks the longest and has the most knowledge of the old catalogue. We’ll see how it goes without me. (One colleague suggested that they could scan the request slip and mail it to me, if they had problems finding the book)…

The major thing that happened at work was the arrival of a large display case and about 40 kilos of candy! It was the result of my name being drawn as first prize winner in a consumer competition. I understood it would be large box, so I asked to have it delivered to work instead of my apartment. I put the case in the staff lunchroom and poured the candy into the different spaces. It was a huge success, of course. Many of my colleagues took photos and posted on their facebook-pages (even the library boss did that). They were curious, so I explained the concept of consumer competitions and why my family takes an interest in this (it actually goes back to the mid 1980’s when my mother won some candy).

And like it knew I was going on vacation, the old (1955) metal compact shelving system in the lower basement quit working Friday afternoon. It got stuck when the ball bearings broke into pieces (the electrical moving force is so large that they shatter). There are no spare parts, and the janitor couldn’t do anything. The university maintenance sent two guys over, and they said maybe they could fix it next week. Sigh…

At home things have also been a little difficult. They are going to exchange all the windows in the entire apartment block (five houses) and also paint the exterior. There is already scaffolding on my building, so now I can’t have anything on the balcony. The flowers are inside, the furniture is in the attic and I soon have to remove the wooden floor somehow. We also have to clear the area near all the windows, so I have taken down curtains, moved the egg cup collection, lamps and vases. And I finally got to do my laundry on Wednesday.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Birthday and mishap cookies

This past week we had the annual social club meeting. We managed to get through the agenda in 20 minutes (I had to stay on as chairwoman, because no one else wanted to take over). We had invited a scholar who uses our books and other material quite a lot. He gave a speech about his research topic, which is slavery in the Mediterranean area in the 17th century. Very interesting to hear, and we are glad to know that our books come to good use. Buffet style dinner afterwards.

Thursday was a pretty strange day. I left work early to go home and bake cookies. It went really badly. I ruined more than half a packet of butter by accidentally getting water in it, after having melted it. The remaining butter was not enough to start over, so I had to find another recipe. Choosing chocolate cookies, I mixed everything, only to realize that there was not enough baking soda. I couldn't believe my bad luck. It's difficult to replace baking soda in a recipe, so I decided to make the cookies anyway. They turned out to be very flat and oddly shaped.

At the same time as the baking, I was supposed to do laundry. However, someone had (by mistake, it turned out) locked the laundry room door. Very annoying. I figured out who it was and posted a large, angry note on their own door (they were not at home). This didn't help, they came home too late for me to start the laundry. In the middle of all this, another neighbor showed up and suggested dinner in town, and I thought I deserved it after all this mess.

Friday the cookies were a success at work, but then again they would eat any cookie of any shape and form. Saturday was my birthday and my father and his girlfriend came to visit. We followed the usual routine, and went to a mall (in Lund this time, though) to have lunch. We window-shopped and then went on to the nursery to get flowers for my balcony. I got that as a birthday present. We also made a stop at the grocery store, so I could stock up. Afterwards we had coffee and the famous cookies here.

My sister's (and my mother's) efforts trying to win in consumer competitions sometimes yield winnings for me too. They enter my name on the forms occasionally. I recently got a gift certificate for a spa treatment. Also just found out that I will get a large box with candy next week. Looking forward to that.

Today not much has happened, apart from cooking (meat sauce and cauliflower) for future lunch boxes. Not as many as I planned on, because it turned out to be so tasty, I ate too much of it.

And my long leave this fall (August 15 - December 15) has been approved.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Emigrant research lectures

Over the past few weeks I have had quite a lot of pain in my back. I got treatment by the chiropractor twice, but it's still not good. He said that I should walk as much as possible, so I have taken several trips to cities to go shopping..... It requires a lot of walking, so I thought it would count. I have been in Lund to a flea market and had brunch at a restaurant near the city park. I have heard of this restaurant, and I was curious to try the food. It was great, lots of herring, salmon and other things I like. The dessert table was impressive, the chocolate mousse was definitely homemade.

At work I have done a lot of talking lately. I have given four lectures about Swedish American biographical works and how to find lost emigrants in North America. Several of my colleagues have found information about their relatives by using the databases I suggested. It was quite fun to hear about their family histories, and I'm glad they seem to have enjoyed the lectures. After this, there is no doubt in anyone's mind what a nerd I am. I talked non-stop for an hour and a half on this subject and could answer all the questions. My links and booklist are now a part of the staff online resource list.

The library has employed a curator who is an expert on preservation and conservation of books and paper material. She went with me through almost all the floors of the library and also the storage, and I showed her all the collections that need attention for some reason. I explained how we work and what the problem areas are. There has been very little interest in preservation, even though it's our duty. I hope this will change now.

I have moved a book collection to the storage, this time it was very old books, so I had to do the job myself. It wasn't possible to transport them on carts, so I had to use boxes. It was not ideal for my back, it got worse afterwards. The faculties have also sent about 30 boxes with books for me to process. I was able to distribute some of them to other colleagues, but it was still a lot of work. I have to say it's great not to have to drive the storage round anymore, but I somehow end up doing pretty hard work anyway.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Birthday party

Last weekend I was in BorĂ¥s to attend my sister's big birthday party. She turned 40 and invited a large crowd for an open house. Our mother had made lots of preparations, but the only thing I really did was to peel as few kilos of potatoes. And load the dishwasher a large number of times. The party was great, the kids ran around, the adults were talkative, the food was very tasty (salmon and potato terrine, with homebaked cake for dessert) and my sister seemed to be happy about the presents.

I took two days off from work, so I stayed longer than usual. One of my colleagues had forgotten this and texted me at 8 AM Monday morning. I was not so happy about this. Anyway, my mother and I went to the local swimmingpool, where she exercises twice a week. Nice place. We also went shopping at the mall area and some second hand stores, including the one she works at as a volunteer. Tuesday I had an appointment for massage, where I used yet another gift certificate given to me at Christmas. The train ride home that evening turned out to be longer than expected. Another train driver had damaged a switch, so the trains were cancelled and we had to go by bus part of the way. The journey lasted five and a half hours instead of four. Very boring trip.

One colleague, who has been on paternity leave since June, returned last week, but only part-time. Still, it's a welcome addition. This past week I handed over almost all my regular tasks to other people. I no longer drive the storage round, shelve or sort requests or returned books. It's a test to see if the others manage without me. It's too early to tell if it's going to function. I have started to arrive late for work (at 8 instead of 7) and go home "early" (at 5 PM or so). I will use the last five weeks to clear my desk and finish all the other projects, before I go on my long vacation. I was told that they will actually employ someone else to fill in for me during this absence, and to my knowledge that has never happened before in the library's history. There is no money to pay double salaries, so where they found that resource I don't know.

This past week I started giving another lecture to my colleagues. It's about biographical works (like the previous one), but this time the scope is Swedish-Americans. We have a collection of Swedish American books, and some of them contain interesting information about the emigrants and where they settled in North America. I also included information on how to find lost emigrants, online databases and general family history research techniques. The lecture seems to be popular and I will give it several times the next few weeks, so that everyone gets to hear it.

This Friday I got to go to the new ephemera collection storage. It's in a large house, where we had our Christmas party two years ago. It was then empty, but now it is crammed with compact shelves on two levels, and the material was either on the shelves or on pallets on the floor. The move was recently finished and this was the first time I saw the place with shelves installed. Impressive place. They have lots of work to do, getting the material on pallets up on the shelves. It will take years getting it all in order.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Stand-up show

The work week was pretty ordinary, so nothing exciting to report from the library. Friday was a long day. I went out to eat after work and then continued on to the theater. The ticket was given to me as a Christmas present by my sister. It was a stand-up show by a local talent, and it was really funny. He tried to make predictions about the future and it turned out to be an entertaining show.

Saturday I woke up early, but decided it was too early and went back to sleep. I finally woke up at 1 p.m. and was amazed at the number of hours gone by. It has been a slow weekend spent at home. I have been cooking, tidying up and watching TV. Today was the annual Vasaloppet ski race, run in rather bad conditions. It's not cold enough, the snow turns into slush. It's much warmer than normal, and it seems like there will be no more winter here.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Nice lunch

Work is basically the same, some people are absent for various reasons and the returns are piling up. I'm involved in several committees at the library, and there have been lots of meetings these past few weeks. One day I attended three meetings and felt pretty braindead afterwards. I have now handed in the 2013 statistics from my department, so that is over for this year.

One nice thing was the lunch I was treated to one day. I had done research for a former colleague, and payment was this lunch at a golf club. Very good food. It turned out that I got more research tasks though, because he wanted to know about the other emigrants as well. I have already done it, it was fairly easy as they ended up in the same place as the others (Massachusetts).

I got to talking to one of my neighbors when I was in the laundry room last week. He was apparently very interested in libraries and reading, because he asked for a tour of my library. He was very impressed by our old books and the picture database that we are hosting. His origin was an area in the Middle East where access to libraries was not a common feature, so he is catching up on his library visits here (he has six different library cards).

The weather here is strange. Meteorologically, the spring has arrived in the south. It has been above freezing for seven days and nights, so winter is supposed to be over. The snowdrops are blooming in the park outside the library and the migrating birds are returning. It's really early.

The Olympic Games is turning out to be a very successful competition for us. We have many medals, but only two gold. The last chance is today, when Sweden meets Canada in the hockey game final.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Noise and long hours

It's pretty tough at work. These past two weeks have been hard to get through. I'm working about ten hours a day again, and this is not what I expected. Half of the staff in the stacks are either sick or injured, so we have done only the absolutely necessary tasks. There is a mountain of returned books that we don't have time to shelve. We are running out of space for all the books and have to put them on the floor. It was like this early fall last year and I really didn't want to see that happening again.

It's very noisy at the library right now. They started refurbishing one floor and also installing a sprinkler system. The drilling is so loud that they have given us covers for our ears to muffle the sound. It's going to be even louder next week when they will remove the concrete floor on the highest level. We are not looking forward to this, because we can't escape. We have to retrieve books no matter what.

I was told that we have to send in the statistics to the national library no later than February. This meant that I had to measure the entire book collection. It's about 100 000 meters. I had some old figures, but since we have moved more than half of the collection, I had to measure it again. It took three days.

By the way, the first half of my long vacation was approved. And God, do I need it..... It starts around April 20 and lasts almost three months.

The Olympic Games started yesterday and Sweden already has two silver medals, both in cross country skiing. I watch some of it on TV.