Welcome to Tessa's blog

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.

No comments: