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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Trip to Stockholm

Last week I only worked Monday and half of Tuesday. Tuesday at midday I took the train to Stockholm. I stayed with my mother's cousin and his wife. They have an apartment very conveniently located two blocks away from a subway station and close to a nice shopping area.

Wednesday morning I walked ten minutes to get to the Royal Library, where we had the last meeting in the digitization committee. We have now fulfilled our duties by giving our final recommendations to the main committee. It's a little sad that it will end, because it has been great fun and so interesting to meet librarians from the other universities (and we have even been in Munich). The most interesting thing about the visit to the Royal Library was the tour to the stacks. (Yes, that's what my life revolves around). We were all keen on seeing the old books (and they have a large collection of very old books there), so it took the entire day before we were done. The Royal Library has the stacks below ground level. It's four floors with double corridors. Enormous space. Most have compact shelving. I looked at the barcodes, call number systems, written finding aids, lists of the collections and other small details. The plastic pocket they use for the call slip is different, for instance. They have devoted much more time to placing the oldest books in boxes for safety than we have. It was great that I could go to this meeting, you learn a lot from discussing issues with colleagues from other large libraries. I can say that we haven't kept the focus on digitization all the time, we have talked about other aspects too, like collection building, provenance, risk of theft, staff policies, salaries and much else.

Thursday morning I took a commuter train westbound, to BĂ„lsta. That's where my paternal grandfather lives. He will be 99 in May. Every time I see him (and it's not that often), he comments on the fact that he is an old man. I can only agree. His parents didn't reach nearly such an old age, but some uncles and aunts died in their 90s (this was unusual for that time period). My grandfather has a clear mind, though his short term memory isn't as good anymore. His generally good health is a mystery to everybody, including his doctor. One time he had been to the doctor, the nurse had looked at his id-card and asked if he was really born in 1914 or if it was a misprint. It was fabulous to see him, we talked about family, travels, libraries and lots of other things. He treated me for lunch in the senior center restaurant and he walked there without the walking aid (which he got only last year, but doesn't need to use for short distances). All I can say is wow!     

Thursday afternoon and Friday I spent mostly in Stockholm, shopping. I went in every direction by subway, looking for second hand-stores and stores selling plus size clothes. I try to stay away from the center of the city, because it's so crowded and there are mostly souvenir and chain stores. I like the southern part better, where there are many cozy cafes and odd shops you can't find anywhere else. I ended up buying some tunics, a few necklaces and a handbag. I also spent time with my mother's cousin and his wife, of course. They are coming in age and don't move around so easily anymore (they are 20 years younger than my grandfather, but have not nearly as good health). I did some grocery shopping for them and helped out with laundry. I returned home Saturday afternoon, very happy to have visited the nation's capital city.

The weather seems to have changed over the weekend, because it's not below zero during the nights anymore. It's sunny and not so cold winds. I still use my winter coat, but will be looking for something else shortly.

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