Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Quarter 3 has just begun and it's looking pretty good so far!

My first class is about preservation and conservation of library materials. We just had an overview class yesterday, but it's already fascinating. We watched this old video about 'slow fires' - books and library materials disintegrating through time. So it seems paper used to be made of linen and other stronger materials. Then when they started printing more books they were running out of linen and needed a lot more cheap materials to make paper. So they turned to wood fiber, and they also were adding acid to the mix - haven't figured that part out yet (I think that comes tomorrow). So you've got all this acidic paper that after a century or two is 'burning up' and falling to pieces.

A man on the video demonstrated the problem. He took a book from the shelves and opened it to the middle. The pages were breaking out. He took out a page and crumbled it in his hand. It literally turned to dust. Wow.

Another problem is that libraries aren't aware of potential problems and don't prepare and do dumb things - like storing things in the basement! The video mentioned the flood in Florence and Venice in 1966 which caused a lot of damage and washed away a lot of priceless things - like art by Botticelli and millions of old and rare books. Hello! Storing things in the basement is a bad idea!

Anyway, this is why we have acid-free paper now - so it won't crumble to dust in hundred years or so.

My class on information systems, architectures and retrieval has also just gotten started. There hasn't been a whole lot yet, but the professor is originally from Greece so he has a fun accent and he is also a really funny professor!

Monday, March 13, 2006

I'm done, I'm done, I'm done!!! I just turned in my final assignment for my cataloging/classification class. I'm so glad that is done. I kept second-guessing myself and changing my evaluation of the controlled vocabulary I was...evaluating. Anyway, I'm relatively happy with the final product - let's hope the professor is too!

So now I'm going to start planning and preparing like crazy for my impending trip to Guatemala! For starters, I'm going to blow the dust off the Vicarious Travelblog and keep you all up to date on my travels for the 10 days while I'm gone. So head over there and I'll see you back here on the 27th!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

3 days of class left now and only one project left to go! Therefore, I must procrastinate...

Today I was reading an article about Malawi, one of the poorest nations on earth. Malawi is getting help from the Millenium Cities Project to work with the extreme poverty. The magazine had pictures of daily life, including women carrying water and children in a school. The children were sitting on the ground and a teacher was writing on the wall. They had photos of the math exercises - scratched in the dirt on the ground. And they had a photo of some "textbooks" - bundles of tattered papers tied together with cord. The caption said they had something like 10 books for 150 students.

I was thinking about all this on my way to class; the extreme poverty and disease and hunger in the world and the many groups and organizations trying to do something about it.

I realized my goal, what I am studying, is very hopeful.

Let's face it, if people have the choice between being healed from some disease or learning to read, they'd go with the former. Education is important, but living, surviving, takes precedence. So why hope? I have hope that when I go out into the world and find a place to work, the people there will be past surviving. They'll be moving to the next steps. I have hope for a world where reading and learning is the priority, not eating or drinking or surviving (these things will be guaranteed to all).
Preparing to be a librarian in developing countries feels like such a hopeful thing.