Monday, April 5, 2010
20 March, 2010
This is a day of travel and reflection. We returned to Zadar last night. Left the hostel at 5am this morning in an airport-bound taxi. It's hard to process everything through our class filter. I'm trying to think about things like "collective memory" and how memory institutions (especially libraries) can be both a victim of abuse as well as a tool for nationalistic aims. It seems the need for responsibility is very high on memory institutions.
Overall, this was an interesting trip which gave us a chance to see struggling, yet succeeding libraries in trying times. We had an opportunity to meet fellow students and colleagues over seas. Our group dynamic seemed agreeable and engaging. I wish we'd had more opportunity for focused discussions. "Thank you" to everyone for a rewarding and supportive class environment. You were a delightful group with which to share this experience.
[Fra. Ante Marić and Marijana Tomić outside the Franciscan Monastery library in Mostar]
19 March, 2010
When we arrived, we settled into church pews and listened as
Fra. Drago Vujević told us of the history of the Franciscan presence in this area (from the 13th century). He also recounted the history of this church (Our Lady of the Snow). It was damaged in WWII, but completely destroyed during the recent Homeland War.
The library here was not destroyed during the shelling. It was also the victim of purging of materials (and people!) during the communist period after WWII.
The events in this library's history are reminiscent of what Knuth describes in the third chapter of Libricide. Regimes can "cast libraries and books in a suspicious light" using a framework of "politics and ideology".
We were also told that this library project if for all people, regardless of ethnicity or religious affiliation and that all "sides" of the formerly-fighting sides in the recent war are represented in the library.
We got a tour of the new church and then saw the new library. It is quite fancy. Temperature and humidity control, very nice new shelving/fixtures/tables, and incredible automated book stacks.
Fra. Ante Marić was a talkative and friendly host. He kept Marijana translating continuously as we progressed. Unfortunately, the librarian ran off to hide when we arrived. We were told she was a "real expert" and had gone to school in Sarajevo.
Amazing to see the stark difference between the Franciscan monastery library in Zadar and the Franciscan monastery library in Mostar. This library obviously gets a lot of money from one or both of its main funding sources - the Croatian government and the Franciscan Order.
[The closed stacks of the university library]
19 March, 2010
We arrived at Džemal Bijedić University after a short bus ride through Mostar. These bus rides through town are when we saw most of the unrepaired war damage in Mostar and got a hint of how
severe and widespread it was in some areas. It's sobering to view, even 15 years after the fact.
We were officially greeted by two university officials. They gave a short history of the university and apologized for its modest appearance. Mirsada Behram translated for them. She is a representative of the university's Office for International Relations. We also met Edita Mulaosmanovic at this time. She is the Head of University Libraries. They guided us around the small bit of campus we saw and took us to a local cafe for lunch. Mirsada even took us to a grocery store before seeing us off.
The library tour was wonderful. Our group split in half in order for them to accommodate our numbers. My group tour was lead by one of the librarians, Jasminka Tresnjo, and an intern "Senior Fellow" named Inga Kotlo.
All the shocking facts about 100,000 books destroyed, having to start anew in underdeveloped government property, a predominantly donated collection, a 100 square meter library, a staff of two (!)...
It goes on and on, but there was no sense of self-pity or anger in these professionals. On the contrary, they were committed and purpose-driven. They were also quietly proud of what they have accomplished with so little. I think we all took their story to heart and imagined ourselves in their position. Would we be as able to pick up the pieces and forge ahead if circumstances were similar?
This university library visit has abruptly changed our focus on memory institutions which were so tied to place. What happens when you are forced to leave? Is memory destroyed? Can it be rebuilt or replaced? How would it feel to have your library destroyed precisely because it preserves cultural identity? It still boggles my mind at times.
[View of Mostar east of the Neretva river from the top of the Stari Most]
19 March, 2010
The bus is parked near the Catholic Church and we walked a short distance over to the Old Bridge area of the Old Town of Mostar. This area is on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Mostar is a very divided city and this area is Muslim. We had a short amount of time to walk around. We were there in the morning and shopkeepers were just opening up when we arrived.
We got to see, and use, the reconstructed bridge. It had been standing for 427 years before the Croatians destroyed it in 1993. This reconstructed bridge was completed in 2004 with funds from the EU and other donors. Pains were taken to build it in the same manner and with the same materials. I read somewhere that Hungarian naval divers recovered many of the original stones out of the Neretva river for use in the reconstruction. Maybe that's why some of the stone looked old and worn! I was curious about that, knowing that the bridge was only 6 years old.
We strolled through tourist stalls to a small square. Amid the cafes was the entrance to the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque courtyard. One of the buildings in the courtyard was a reading room. Was it also a library? Or just the reading room for a library?
I also tried to get the name of the librarian there. She wrote it on my paper but I can't read her handwriting.
We also walked around the mosque grounds and took pictures of the Old Bridge from this vantage point.
Afterward, we had a quick coffee and went back to the bus. We didn't stay long or go far in the Old Town, but I think we were there long enough to get a very basic, somewhat superficial feel for the place. I appreciated having some time to walk around. There's no substitute for it.
PS - "Sramota!" means "shame!" I believe. I ran up to the real street from the tourist cobblestone street to take a few pictures. Why is that sign for?
[Marta Deyrup and her gaggle of SLIM students negotiate the labyrinthine streets near Diocletian's palace in Split]
18 March, 2010
We had a 3-hour visit to Split on our way to Mostar. My goal for the day was to go see Split's public library. I looked up the information and address the day before. I even drew a map on paper which would get me from Diocletian's Palace to the library. I was prepared.
For good measure, I stopped into a tourist info office to check my facts. The employees there were excited that I was going to see their city library. They said, with pride, that it was new and beautiful.
I was so excited!
But after a brief walk around the palace and lunch, there wasn't time for me to get there. I tried, but had to turn back in defeat before reaching my destination. I was late getting back to our bus and felt bad for making everyone wait.
Since my efforts ended in failure, I will include pictures from my last visit and pretend that I saw more this time than I really did. ["cheater!"]
This evening we will be staying in Medjugorje for the night and leave the next morning for Mostar.
[The south side of Trogir's Old Town]
18 March, 2010
This morning we left Zadar for a long bus ride which will eventually take us to Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina. On our way, we stopped in Trogir for about an hour. Trogir was founded by the Greeks in the third century B.C.
Its historic city center has been continuously inhabited since then. It comprises all of a small island immediately off of the coast (connected by short bridges). The entire Old Town is on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
It was a nice day and a good way to take a break. I enjoyed our visit, but without a map or more information, I didn't always know what I was looking at (or missing). A beautiful town.
[ Dr. Tatjana Aparac-Jelušić, dean of LIS department at University of Zadar & SLIM student]
17 March, 2010
Three lectures in a row! Power Points! My favorite!
1) Dr. Tatjana Aparac-Jelušić
She is dean of the LIS department at the University of Zadar. She is also a leader in
European library associations. She talked about the history of library schools in Europe.
She also gave us information on this library program. It is very new, only 6 years old.
She discussed issues of background knowledge, core skills, and prospects for European
cooperation. She also gave us her first-hand perception of changes in the LIS
educational field and finished up with new challenges and responsibilities.
2) Dr. Mirna Willer
She is a professor in the LIS department. She told us about possibilities for cooperation
within the global information infrastructure. Hey, glad I took 806 already!
The process of organizing an ALM (Archives, Libraries, and Museums) focus was
outlined. The ideas and complexity of creating the process itself was rather interesting.
The structure of definitions, principles, standards, etc - basically everything had to be
hashed out in order to develop the necessary "convergence" and interoperability.
She told us about CALIMERA (Cultural Applications: Local Institutions Mediating
Electronic Resource Access). This is kind of exciting, because it's exactly what libraries
do, on a very local level, but if you take the theory behind it and apply it in a global scale,
this is what you get.
3) Maja Krtalić This is a graduate student (?) in the Department of Information Sciences at the University
of Osijek. Her lecture was given over Skype and was difficult for me to hear well. I can follow
her Power Point, but it's not as informative without filling in the details. The lecture was titled
"Strategic framework for book preservation".
Afterward, a few of us walked to the bus station and took a bus to Nin. An interesting place to see but very empty. Various places of historical consequence had signs with information we could read so we did learn a bit about Nin.