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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Trip to Finland

The taxi picked me up at 4 a.m. on Monday morning, and after a few more stops on the way six people from Lund University Library were in the car, headed south. We arrived at the airport in Copenhagen about an hour later. The flights went very well, we changed planes in Helsinki, and arrived in Kuopio in the middle of Finland at lunchtime. It's a town about the same size as Lund, and there is also a university, but that's not why we were there. We visited the Repository Library of Finland, housed in a large storage facility just outside the town. All libraries in Finland send books to this place (mostly books/periodicals they no longer need), and the repository library serves all libraries (everywhere) with inter-library loans and, most importantly, article copies. We wanted to see all of it, but mainly we were interested in seeing the scanning of articles and the stacks. We got to follow an article request from the second it arrived via e-mail until the copy was sent (also via e-mail). Very interesting, and not all that far away from the routines at my library. But we learned a few things there, definitely.

The Finnish language is impossible to understand, so we had to speak English with the staff at the library. I have to say that we were better at it than they. We were very well received, and they insisted that we also should do some touristy things, so we went to an art gallery, the church, and a viewing tower 200 meters above lake-level. Finland is a country of lakes, there are actually more than 180 000. The view over the snow-covered islands, the ski jumping hill and the town was very nice. It was colder than here, about 3 degrees below zero, but it was wonderful to experience the winter weather. They have real winters in Finland, usually very cold and lots of snow.

We arrived back home late Tuesday evening, after a very intense and interesting trip. When I got to work at 7.20 Wednesday morning I was met by a colleague saying that the database had stopped printing requests to stacks "sometime yesterday". This was the start of a very, very bad day at work. In fact, one of the top five worst days at the library, in my opinion. The IT-department couldn't fix it, and had to contact the American database provider in Virginia. They apparently couldn't fix it either, and had to install a new version of it. This took a long time, and we lost hundreds of requests. After a while, we managed to get lists of about 80% of what was lost, but in chronological order (very impractical) and when we checked the entries, they were messed up, so that the book title didn't correspond with the call number or bar code. I can't even begin to describe how frustrated I was. One of my colleagues said he had never heard me use such bad language before, and he might be right. After eleven hours I gave up and went home, I was exhausted.

This day started when I woke up one hour later than normal, wondering why the alarm clock didn't function. The battery had stopped working during the night. I wouldn't say it's a record, but it only took seventeen minutes to get ready to go to the train station. I spent the entire morning trying to solve the back-log from yesterday, and at noon most of it was done, but the 20% that was completely lost will stay that way. I'm glad most of my weeks are less eventful than this one.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

More clothes shopping

My mother and her boyfriend came to visit me yesterday. She dropped off some things; a Christmas lamp (a little late...) and three pairs of jeans that my sister had bought at her job. I tried them on and only one pair fit me. I have a difficult clothes size, the lower half of me takes a smaller size than the upper... We went to the mall and both my mother and I found affordable clothes. We also went grocery shopping on the way back. We cooked dinner at my apartment (salmon) and had traditional cheese cake for dessert (it's really a tradition in Småland, but we like it too).

It's now close to eleven in the evening and I should be thinking of going to bed. Tomorrow will be a long day. I have to get up at 3.15 a.m. to go to the airport in Copenhagen. I will do a two-day job-related trip abroad with five of my colleagues. The next entry on the blog will give the details.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Article writing

The main thing going on in my life concerns an article about Leroy Anderson for an American genealogy magazine. I had no idea it would be so difficult to write it. And I'm not talking about grammar or spelling. I already have the information, but turning all those details into a readable and not too boring article is a challenge. The deadline is March 1, and I hope I can make it.

Last weekend I got tired of sitting in front of the computer and went shopping instead. Friday evening I went directly from work to a mall by bus. The only thing I was looking for was new shoes, and that's exactly what I came home with. Saturday was spent in Malmö. I hadn't been there in a while, so there were lots of stores to visit. I did some clothes shopping, but nothing extravagant, just some tops to wear at work. I also went to Gray's, a cool store that sells imported American things. This is the place to purchase peanut butter, pancake mix, maple syrup, Hershey bars, marshmallows, pop tarts, nachos and barbecue spices. They also sell fridge magnets with the Simpsons, American cookbooks, table mats with Elvis, mugs with movie stars and other gift items. I got some baking mixes for future needs (my colleagues think I make tasty cakes, but few of them know that I often use mixes).....

My sister has had some luck in slogan competitions lately. She has won fine glassware, a book about chocolate, 24 tubes of toothpaste, a snowboard and a pair of skis. All in different competitions where she had written slogans/rhymes about a certain product.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Strange weather

The past weekend was also pretty slow, but I got some things done. I did the laundry, went grocery shopping and tried to tidy up in the apartment. It's remarkable that so many things end up on the floor all the time. The candy Jeane sent to me is all gone now! I brought some of it to work and my colleagues in the stacks helped me finish it. They also thought it was delicious.

The main topic of conversation at work these days is the weather. We haven't had much of a winter this season. It's too warm. The snowdrops are blooming in the park outside the library. Someone had picked blueberries in the forest recently. I read in the newspaper that the polar ice is melting faster than anyone thought. The eco-system seems to be messed up. We have had very few days with temperatures below zero centigrades, and no snow at all. There is still a chance for snow, I assume, but the odds are low.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I spent most of Friday at the library in Kristianstad, arranging the exhibit material. It took a long time to get everything in place, especially since many visitors stopped by to ask what I was doing..... There was also a reporter from a local newspaper asking questions about the centennial (it ended up being a nice little article on Saturday). The exhibit is divided, so that Leroy Anderson's music and career (along with a very old typewriter from Norra Strö!) can be viewed on the ground floor, next to the music department. The part about his ancestors and family is placed one floor down, where the genealogy department is. The opening of the exhibit(s) on Saturday marked the official start of the Swedish Leroy Anderson centennial year. One of the orchestras was brought to the library and played Syncopated Clock and Belle of the Ball. Very nice. The opening speech was held by yours truly (again, not my kind of thing, but I survived). The ticket sales started on Saturday also, and there seems to have been a great demand on the tickets. Five hours after the start, I walked over to the sales office and asked how it went and got the answer: "Very, very well."

Sunday I rested, but Monday was another committee meeting. We didn't really decide on anything, we mainly discussed all the things we have to do on the concert day. I arrived back home late yesterday. After a busy day at work I picked up a package at the post office. I had no idea who sent it, but it turned out to be from relatives in Chicago (thank you Jeane!), who know what my favourite candy is - M&M peanuts! The postal service seems to be a little slow, however. It took seven weeks before it got here.

I forgot to write that today is Shrove Tuesday, the day we traditionally eat lenten buns (with whipped cream and almond paste). We were treated to one each at work - very tasty.