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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Power failure

This Friday there was yet another incident at the library, but it was not serious. All of a sudden, there was a complete power failure. The students got upset because they lost their documents they had been writing on the computers. We couldn't lend any books or accept returns. One of my colleagues, who is bound to a wheelchair, couldn't get out of the house. The loan department staff was locked in when the (electric) security door stopped working (but they figured out how to get out after a while). After about 30 minutes, it was decided to have the building evacuated. When the last visitors were leaving, the power returned. No damages were reported.

Yesterday, my father was supposed to visit me. Unfortunately, he had to cancel it because he had had minor surgery in a finger on Friday and he was not allowed to do anything with his hand for two weeks. Instead I went to a mall in Malmö. I actually didn't buy much, only some groceries and Christmas cards.

The weather here is typical of the Swedish fall season - colder and with beautiful tree colors. I have thrown out the summer flowers from the balcony rack and planted heather there. It will, hopefully, last until the spring (if I remember to water it now and then).

Thursday, October 25, 2007


There are two more headlines added here on the left. It's links to websites with genealogy information. I use these websites a lot in my research. It's possible to search in the Ancestry database without paying, but you can only see a partial result list. I do not subscribe to this, unfortunately, so I have to go to the archive to search in it. I haven't been to the archive for about a month now, and I'm not going on Saturday either, so the research questions are piling up. (A big thank you to Nancy, who are helping me in these moments of need)!

I forgot to write earlier that my mother brought with her an article from a local newspaper in Kristianstad. A couple of weeks ago a journalist called me to ask about the Leroy Anderson Centennial next year. The article turned out to be a full page, and very nicely written. He had even been to the house Leroy's father was born in to interview the current owner. It's great that the media is taking an interest in this project.

Today's session in the reading room was not so busy, there were only about four people there. But I had things to do anyway. I was writing a text to have on the official website, about a project we are doing in the stacks. It has to do with the flow of books and book orders (logistics in the stacks). There are several challenges working in an old library and an old house. Adapting modern technology to an old collection is not the easiest. Our database system was not developed for closed collections, so the "order" part of it was added later. It's years ago now, and it still doesn't function the way we want it to.

Sunday, October 21, 2007


The book lists added here on the left contain a selection of literature relating to Swedish emigration to the United States. There is also some fiction, the most famous author being Vilhelm Moberg. He wrote an epic about a family emigrating in the 1840s. The titles: The Emigrants, The Settlers, Unto a good land and The last letter home. I recommend them.

My mother and her boyfriend Pelle visited me yesterday. My mother, who likes to go shopping almost as much as I, had bought some very nice pictures for my bedroom wall. She even did the job of hanging them there. Pelle helped me getting some electrical things right. I had some problems with the lamp in the bedroom. My mother and I also engaged ourselves in the making of salmon pie for lunch. My mixer (which I use to make the dough) quit working earlier and we couldn't get it to function now either. I will have to add a new one to my Christmas wish-list.

We also made a fairly short visit to the mall in Löddeköpinge. I needed a new lamp in the living room, because I had accidentally broken it when I was going to change the light bulbs.....

Friday, October 19, 2007

International visitors at the library

The first half of the week there were two young people doing internship in the stacks. We haven't had any newcomers in quite a while and I really had to plan for it. It's kind of difficult to describe a job I do every day without having to think too much about it. They were impressed by the number of books (seven million) and they said they liked retrieving books for the students. Working in the stacks didn't rank high when I started ten years ago, but that has changed a little. In those days people were working full time there, and now no one does. It's too heavy work. Instead, twelve people make it function by working there part-time. (And sometimes it's a miracle that it does function).

Yesterday's desk duty in the manuscript reading room was interesting. There were visitors from the US, England, Denmark and Finland at the same time. The US visitor was asking for material about a Swedish 19th century explorer who went to Africa. The explorer seemed to have been failing at most of his attempts at finding the rivers and other places he was searching for, but he was a successful writer. He had published a large number of books about his travels, and we apparently had all of them. You get to hear the most fascinating things in the reading room. It's definitely a learning experience.

This is for Jeane: thank you for the message!

And now I really have to start cleaning the apartment - my mother is coming to visit tomorrow!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Many meetings

There have been a lot of meetings this past week. Most of them at work. The staff in the stacks don't usually attend that many meetings, but because of the book transportation project we had to. Previously all the students had to go to the specific library that owned the book they wanted. Now the students can order all the books to be transported to one library. There are 28 libraries at the university. The whole thing was started without any information to anyone. Since we are the biggest library, the students came to us for help when things went wrong. The technical problems have been enormous. Total chaos is the best way to describe the situation at the circulation desk. Not even the most experienced librarians knew what to say to the students when they didn't get their books. I'm so glad I don't have desk duty there.

Yesterday I was at the mall. One of the big discount stores is going to close down and everything was 70% off. The prices were low already from the beginning, so it was incredibly cheap. I bought curtains and clocks! I found some clocks that we can have at the Leroy Anderson exhibit, to illustrate Syncopated Clock.

And I can report that the chocolate fudge brownie turned out pretty well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Committee meeting

Monday evening I attended a Leroy Anderson Centennial committee meeting. I went directly from work to Kristianstad by train. Like usual, people were very talkative. We had invited a city librarian (who actually used to work in the stacks at the same library I now work at) and a set designer. They both had interesting ideas, and we hope to make use of them for the exhibits and concert on April 26. We have been lucky to get sponsors for the advertising and for some catering on the concert day. There will be hundreds of musicians rehearsing in the morning, and they expect lunch.

There has been a lot going on at work also. Perhaps a little too much. So far this week I managed to miss a scheduled meeting, a huge book transportation project started without prior information to the students (profound mistake) and (this I'm proud of) I managed to prevent a devastating fire in the library. The last thing was very unpleasant, but I would do the same thing again. Someone had, accidentally, turned on the stove in a kitchen that isn't used much, and this wasn't discovered until the smoke was coming through the closed door to the stacks. I found out later that the fire alarm didn't go off because it reacts only to heat, not smoke. Unfortunately, there was a plastic container standing on the stove, so the smoke was very unhealthy. I didn't know this when I rushed in to see what had happened, but I grabbed hold of the melting container, turned off the stove and tried (and failed) to open the window. It wasn't until afterwards I thought of what could have happened if no one had noticed the smoke - it's an old building with lots of books and paper material. I also have to say that the hours of fire drills and education we have endured at work actually helped me - I remembered to keep my head down towards the floor (smoke stays closer to the ceiling). I sincerely hope the rest of the week will be less eventful.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Interesting Saturday

Yesterday I went to the Malmö Museum for the first time ever. It's housed in the castle/fortress Malmöhus from the 16th century. There are several different kinds of exhibits; an aquarium, two art galleries, prehistoric Skåne, archaeological finds from Malmö, the development of Malmö city from the beginning until around 1900, and one side of the castle with old interiors and royal portraits was open to visitors. Skåne belonged to Denmark from the formation of nation-states around 1100 until 1658. The castle was strategically placed, overlooking the port of entry and it was in use as royal castle during the king's regular visits until the Swedes took charge. After a few years the castle lost its significance, and it was turned into a prison. The museum moved in 1937.

In the prehistoric section I learned that the earliest inhabitants lived in Skåne around 12 000 B.C. They were hunters who followed the reindeers. It was interesting to see the finds from all the recent road constructions, there were pearls, 600-year old foreign coins, rings, pieces of Dutch china, metal brooches, but also a very old wooden clog and fishing equipment (osier basket, according to my dictionary). I wonder what the future archaeologists will think of the things we leave behind now.

The art gallery for modern art didn't interest me, but the other gallery displaying art and furniture of the different styles, like jugend, renaissance, Gustavian (named after Swedish King Gustav 3rd), and baroque, was fascinating. All the interiors, except one, had been taken from very wealthy family residences, and that was kind of misleading, because that's not the way most of our ancestors lived. Most of us descend from farmers and crofters, who lived in small wooden houses with very little fancy decorations.

After the museum visit, I went for lunch at an up-scale Italian restaurant. The pizza was very tasty. I also went shopping at Gray's. It's a store where they sell imported American food and candy. They have a fairly large selection of cake mixes, and I bought a package of Betty Crocker's chocolate fudge brownie mix.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Jubilee book

I was planning on writing this message from work, during the reading room desk duty, but I didn't have time. There weren't that many visitors, but someone phoned from Uppsala, wanting information about a 16th century book and she was very talkative. There was also a visit from other university libraries, staff from other manuscript departments wanted to see our (fairly new) reading room.

These past two days I have guided a German librarian who is doing her internship at Lund University. She also studied Scandinavian languages in Germany and her command of the Swedish language was very impressive. She learned quickly, and helped us retrieve books from the stacks.

I got my own copy of the book about the library's history published for the 100 year jubilee. It's almost 400 pages and many of my present and former colleagues have written the articles. I was surprised to find my name in it. The article was about the Swedish Dictionary Project (huge project, they are trying to document the history and use of all Swedish words ever), whose staff has and still is using the library's collections very much. The former head of the project expressed his gratitude for the assistance the staff in the stacks had given them, by retrieving a gigantic number of books for them during the past 90 years. It's very nice to know that the work we do in the stacks is appreciated.