Welcome to Tessa's blog

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Summer weather

It's practically summer weather here. It's very warm and sunny. The trees and flowers are blooming extensively, and the allergy season has started. Even I, who have no allergies, have noticed the pollen. Many of my colleagues sit outside on the deck on the breaks, but not me. I sneeze a lot when I'm outside if the sun is shining brightly, and then I get a headache, usually. I do prefer the winter season.....

We had the first social club board meeting with the new members this Tuesday, and the only thing we decided was to have a picnic in the beginning of June. We do this every year to mark the end of the semester. We will play boules and eat subs.

Tomorrow I will travel to my sister's place in Borås and spend the weekend there. It's May Day on Friday, which is our Labor Day.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

More flea markets

The desk duty on Thursday was rather boring. There were few visitors, and the ones who came managed on their own. I used the time to compare shelving systems on the two company websites we have to choose from. They are similar in construction, so I don't really know which would be best.

Yesterday I did the same as last Saturday - started at the flea market in Lund and then went on to the archive. It was an even bigger flea market than last time. Made some small finds, mainly fabric for my mother's production of aprons and oven mittens. I found one piece of fabric with chanterelles on, it was unusual. Also three egg cups for my collection.

I learned yesterday from some people who were selling clothes that the flea market at a square in Malmö was worth visiting, so today I went there also. I brought the backpack this time, and I filled it with fabric of different kinds. Two pieces (a curtain) with horses on that I was thinking could be used for a children's apron, for instance. Also two large pieces of a thick, black fabric that will give eight aprons. This I had to fight for, it was too expensive for my taste, so I let it be and went on to other stalls. On the third try I got the price down so that it was worth buying (40 SEK). We'll see if my mother needs all this fabric, I really think she has enough. It's just so fun to go shopping!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shelving systems

There is an explanation for the strange way of putting the books on the shelves from the bottom and up. In the old days (1670s) the library was housed in a small building with very limited space. To be able to keep all the books there, they divided the collection into sections according to the sizes of the books. The books were placed on the lowest shelf and then the next shelf was placed as close to the row of books as possible. Three rows of the smallest books (the size is called duodes) could be fitted into the same space as one row of folio format books. So the system of keeping the books that way saved space. Nowadays we have octavo, folio and oversize formats. We no longer place the books in subject sections in the stacks either. Each book gets a unique call number instead.

Yesterday I went with four colleagues to Denmark to look at shelving systems for the new remote storage we will get in a couple of years. It requires some shopping around before deciding where to buy 40 000 meters of shelves. The company we visited is one of two possible suppliers in Europe. The other one is in Holland (I don't think we will get to visit that place also). We were picked up by the president of the Swedish sales office and were brought to a branch library of the Royal Danish Library in Copenhagen. They had recently installed this electronic compact shelving system that we are thinking of buying. It seemed to work pretty well. We have some old (1992) shelves that function very badly, but the company representatives promised they had made considerable improvements since then. We also visited the factory outside Roskilde where they make the shelves. We started with a very delicious lunch, a typical Danish smorgasbord. It was herring, salmon, paté, steak and fried fish with remoulade sauce, served with rye bread. Marvelous food. We toured the factory and were impressed by the old machines that were still used. They bought most of the steel from Sweden, and they made sure to tell us that. Since we have several different types of electronic systems like this already and have knowledge of all the problems associated with them, we put pressure on the staff by asking a lot of questions. It seems to be a flexible system that can be both adjusted and repaired in a better way than the old ones we have. After the company presentation and sales talk, we were brought to a fancy restaurant in Copenhagen and treated to yet another tasty meal. We were tired when we got back to Lund at about 9 in the evening, but it had been a very interesting day in Denmark.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Archive visit again

When I wrote that there are no written instructions for the job in the stacks, I meant that there aren't any for the normal retrieval and shelving. It's only when you can't find a specific book that you need some guidance. The document I wrote about where to look and what could be wrong if a book is missing/not on the shelf is nine pages long. The list of the categories of books not for home-loan is four pages long. The list of all the categories of books in the library is an Excel document on more than 100 lines, and it's the abbreviated version. We have more than seven million volumes to keep track of. It's an old book collection, and the old way of keeping them on the shelves is still in use. It takes years of training before you can decipher all the shelf marks correctly and actually find the requested book. To add to the fun, we put our books on the shelves from the bottom and up!

This weekend was full of activities, some more enjoyable than others. Saturday morning I got out of bed at 7 in order to get to the flea market in Lund early. It's people standing in a long row alongside an alley, displaying what they sell on tables or blankets on the ground. They sell just about everything; toys, clothes, kitchenware, comic books, antiques, jewelry and Christmas decorations. After about two hours (and one small purchase, fabric for my mother), I took the bus out to the archive. I searched the database with burials quite a lot, and got several new details.

Today I went through all my clothes and threw some of them out. I also went through all the cupboards and cleared things out. I will give the items to my mother for further delivery to the flea market at Furuboda this summer. It was things I never used or didn't want any more. I know there are some things to be disposed of in the attic, and that's the next project. The laundry, recycling plastic/glass and grocery shopping were also done today. This evening I have tried to get my picasa website to function the way I want it to, and that has taken hours. Now the Apartment album has been updated, and there are some new albums. One with family photos and another with gravestones. I'm working on one with photos from Lund, but there are only two photos right now, so it's not much to see. You will need an invitation to see these photos, and the only way to get that is to contact me.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


As an example of my boss's great planning abilities, I was told Thursday that I were to lose five staff members working part time in the stacks right away and that I were supposed to start training one new person the next working day to replace those five. As a matter of fact, the new person (a man, luckily) was the one who told me. Not my boss. When she finally did, she sent an e-mail. What a magnificent way to manage staff issues. By the way, it normally takes two years to train someone new to the extent that he can do 80% of the tasks. This has been a very busy week and we have just barely made the deadline (which is at noon). Everything takes much longer time because the new guy has to learn the hard way. It's learning by doing in the stacks, there are no written instructions.

The weather has been very nice and sunny, but the air is still a little cold. I got the chair and small table down from the attic and placed it on the balcony. Today I also bought some pansies for the flower box. It looks so much nicer there with some other colors than grey concrete.

Yesterday I decided to go to the new mall in Malmö in the afternoon. It's called Entre and is a fairly large glass building near one of the main bus terminals. There was basically one store that I found interesting, a Danish shoe store. The rest of the stores were the same as in other malls. Some spaces were empty and it didn't seem to be completely finished. I wasn't that impressed by it. It didn't stop me from doing some shopping, however. Just a top and a cotton dress.

Today I didn't have any desk duty. The manuscript reading room was closed in the afternoon because all the staff members were summoned to a meeting in another building. We were told that the library's financial state was not good, that we had to answer the opinion poll sent to us and that the document regarding strategic planning had been delayed. We already knew all this and we did not really care to hear about it. The entertainment part of the meeting was a group of school children who sang several songs, both in Swedish and English. The day ended with a scholar who gave a somewhat confusing lecture on a book she had written about women who had survived the concentration camps during World War II. She had contacted the women 50-60 years afterwards to ask about their memories. It was a terrible account of nameless cruelty, like so many of these books. We must not forget.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter weekend

Wednesday we had the annual board meeting of the social club at work. We elected some new members and discussed the financial statements. Afterwards one of the scholars at the university held a lecture on the ghost stories he had encountered while searching for material for his thesis on 17th century noble estates. Very interesting, especially the fact that the stories have survived for so long. We ended the evening with a salmon buffet and wine.

Thursday I went by train and bus to Åhus after work, and was picked up there. My mother had temporarily moved to her house in Nyehusen and we spent Easter weekend there with Anette and her family too. My father visited Thursday to play with John, they had assembled some sort of garage with planks and real nails, for instance.

Easter is traditionally the time when many sculptors, painters and other artists display their works here. Many people (and I mean MANY people) tour entire Skåne to see as many of these displays as possible. We saw a little of the displays in Kivik and Kristianstad. We also did some shopping at the juice factory and outlet stores in Kivik.

Sunday was a busy day. We started in Kristianstad by looking at some art and then we had lunch at the Swedish hamburger place Max. The afternoon was spent at my uncle's farm in Övarp, where John rushed from the cows to the tractors to the forest machines to the sheep and then to the calves in the stable. Lots of interesting things to look at for a soon-to-be four year old. The evening was spent at one of my mother's friends where we had Easter dinner: herring, salmon, Jansson's temptation, meatballs and eggs. Lots of food and all of it very tasty.

My birthday was celebrated (sort of) and I received some chocolate, an Easter decoration John had made (an Easter witch on a broomstick), a figurine (doll) from India and a necklace my mother had made.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Quiet birthday

This weekend it was very nice weather, and I started preparing the balcony for the summer season. I cleaned the rail and the windows, and tried to make the floor more tidy. The furniture is not out yet, but I will bring it down from the attic pretty soon, I think.

My birthday was a quiet one. Not much happened. Some people called to congratulate me and I got some electronic birthday greetings. Thank you! I spent hours entering photos into albums. I noticed that I hadn't written any captions for the photos since late 2007, so I did that now. In order to write the correct dates I had to dig out the old calendars. It made me realize how fast time really flies. I re-lived the Leroy Anderson Centennial last year through the pictures, what a great experience it was!

It's Easter week here and a little slower at work. It's my turn to drive to the remote storages and it's pretty heavy work. The boxes with books are not easy to get in and out of the car, up and down from the loading ramps in four different places in all directions from the library. It takes hours and is the part of the work no one likes.

On Thursday I will travel to my mother's place in Nyehusen. She has temporarily moved back to spend Easter there. Anette and her family will be there too.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

First archive visit since September

Thursday evening I baked a cake. It was a long time ago I did that. The recipe called for an entire packet of brown sugar so it turned out to be pretty sweet. Of course I dropped the container on the floor and it made a pretty sticky mess. (The sugar that ended up on the floor was NOT used in the cake)! The cake was a great hit when I served it to my colleagues at the coffee break Friday morning. The event was my upcoming birthday (it's on the 5th). Thursday I also vacuumed my apartment (very, very needed). I had noticed that I was sneezing quite a lot at home......

This week I have talked to my father on the phone several times. The reason was the transcription of his travel diary from the trip to India in November. He is a little slow, but better late than never. I am the secretary, and now I have finished the six pages. It seems to have been an interesting trip, where he and his girlfriend got to see Taj Mahal, temples and forts. Also wild animals on a safari-tour. They especially noted the enormous amount of people and cows in the streets, and the spicy food.

Friday I received a package in the mail, the first birthday present. A very suitable item, a coaster with a text that referred to my uninterest in housework. Thank you, Eva! I also got a card from my grandfather, he wrote that he was feeling a little old...! He will be 95 in May.

Today I went to the archive in Lund for the first time since September 1st!!!! Can you believe it??!! I have suffered from symptoms of withdrawal for months, but I haven't been able to go before. It was a full day with research in different databases and church records. The archive was crowded, and I was lucky to get the last available seat. The research results left a lot to ask for, I only managed to solve one problem and then I used a very slow Ancestry-connection to do general searches about people from "my" parishes. But it was still useful, because the archive got a new database with burial records for entire Sweden (mostly late 19th to late 20th century). It seems to be a very practical database, since there is a gap in the published death records 1900-1947. I found several relatives that I didn't have the death dates for.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Spring is definitely here. There are many colorful flowers blooming in the park in front of the library. Many snowdrops and some small yellow flowers that are named winter aconites in English, according to a dictionary. It's so much lighter out now, and because of the daylight savings time it's light later in the evening. This is when I start getting to see the city in something else than darkness. This is also the start of the "going to bed at midnight & waking up at four"-routine. I have problems sleeping during the bright times.

I have no particular travel plans for this year. It's a little bit too expensive to go somewhere right now. The exchange rates are really not favorable. I was so lucky to go to the US when the Swedish krona was worth more. The only advantage is that everything in Sweden is cheap for other people, so we are expecting a lot of foreign tourists this summer. The financial situation for Sweden in general is not that great. Thousands of people have lost their jobs, and it doesn't seem to get any better. I am "lucky" to be employed by a university (which is government funded). My job is fairly safe, especially since several of my colleagues will retire within the next few years. The problem is that they will not be replaced.

I talked to my father a few days ago. He said he was just about to work his last day as a lumber jack. His knees are bothering him after so many years of hard work. He will retire before the official age (which is 65). He will be 63 this year. I'm sure he will find other things to do, he said something about his house being in need of repairs.

If anyone of my relatives in foreign countries has plans for a trip this way, would you please tell me.