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Monday, October 3, 2011

Interesting conference

The conference in Göteborg was one of the most interesting ones I have ever attended. It was a two-day event hosted by one of the large foundations, and it dealt with just about every aspect of digitization of old materials you could think of. There were speakers who were archivists, librarians and scholars. The first two categories keeping the material, the last one using it. The scholars gave presentations of their research projects, and explained how they have benefitted from getting the material available online. Statistical and historical comparisons that were impossible before, can now be done fairly easily. It still takes a lot of work, but it has meant a great deal to have the material right on the computer screen (instead of perhaps travelling to the other end of the country). The archivists presented some map projects and the medieval letters online, where the possibility for users to make comments has meant a great deal to get the material correctly transcribed. The librarians talked about the easier access to bibliographic information, and also expressed concern with long term storage and funding. It is very expensive to store these large files and the libraries don't get any extra money for it. I have a long list of books I would like to have scanned, but it is not possible yet, mainly for lack of server space. After the conference we got a guided tour of the university library. We viewed some old and rare books, and then we got to see their brand new (and very expensive) scanner.

Friday evening I went by bus to Borås, an hour east of Göteborg. I spent the weekend with my mother (the others were on vacation). My mother had booked a space for selling some fleamarket-things on the Saturday. It was a disappointment, because there were hardly any people coming. We didn't sell much. We actually had more things with us home than we had when we got there. My mother found some cheap Tupperware items to buy. After a slow Sunday I returned home by train in late evening.

It was hard to get up early today. This is the first full week at work for a long time. Another colleague, who has been away for five months on paternity leave, also returned today. We had some catching up to do. There was also an intern from a library school in Germany coming today. He is here for two weeks and will work in the stacks. I was not prepared for this, but I hope he didn't notice it too much. Even though I can speak English, it's a little difficult to remember the specific words we use for things. It also turned out to be a little strange to speak English with my colleagues, but we did so that the intern wouldn't feel left out.

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