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.
[A work in progress. Stacks of books in the library of the St.Francis monastery in Zadar]
17 March, 2010
This was an insightful experience. This is what I had hoped to see during our service learning component of our class. The nuts and bolts of creating a working library out of a mess of a centuries-old collection of books.
Marijana Tomić was our guide for this project. She introduced us to fra Jozo Sopta, the monk of St.Francis who started the library work. Then Andreja Antonina, a professor of classical philology gave us a lecture on the history of this church and monastery and the collection within it.
The library is as old as the church, which was established in 1282. The library contains approximately 60,000 units including parchments from the 13th century, 120 incunabula, and many medieval illuminated works. Nearly 10,000 items in the collection are in a state of advanced deterioration from a host of causes (age, weather, insects, war, fire, etc). There is no catalog at all, not even an inventory list.
This project is attempting to establish this library through organizational efforts which aim to meet requirements for government funds, make the library accessible to the community, and begin preservation efforts. After 2.5 years of work, the inventory is half finished.
The students who work on this inventory are using a computer program which is doing some preliminary cataloging. An authority file is being made for every previous owner and access points are being set up now. Translated copies of the computer forms were made for us, and we tried our hand at filling them out with materials from the collection.
This experience made it strikingly clear how much background knowledge is necessary to do this work. Just from this short exercise, we need to know differences from the long history of book making (materials, binding, etc). We would need to know the different stamps and marks of different printers, binders, possible book owners throughout the ages, different languages, and a whole host of other details. And this level of experience and scholarship needs to be painstakingly employed 60,000 times?! Little wonder that it's a slow process.
[Don't leave home without it]
16 March, 2010
Evenings in Zadar were informative on a different level. The small group of us who stayed at the hostel spent our evenings enjoying the town on our own. We ate out at restaurants and bakeries which gave us insight into local customs and culture. In the evenings, we had the leisure to walk around slowly and observe locals, also to return to places that warranted a longer look than we could give it earlier in the day.
We stayed out every evening until it was time to sleep. For example, this evening we gave our own mini tour of Zadar's Old Town to Julie, our new arrival. We then all went to a bar and sat around talking about SLIM. Funny.
I found six kuna on the floor.
[bookdrop outside Gradska knjižnica Zadar - City Library of Zadar]
16 March, 2010
This was the only public library which we visited on our trip. It was a shining example of what a library can do and be for a community. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the (now familiar) Mladen Masar. We walked through the library to a meeting room where we watched a powerpoint presentation on the library's history.
It was founded over 60 years ago, but has been destroyed, rebuilt, and remodeled since then. There are several branches as well as a bookmobile and delivery service.
Mladen described the library organization and the many community events which it sponsors. There have been substantial efforts to market this library, which have paid off. This library appears to enjoy a leadership standing in the Zadar community. It is a "model library" for Croatia, and works to teach other libraries in Croatia how to improve their services.
The services of the library are free, but a borrowing card has a modest annual fee. There are currently 17,000 card holders. Only about 50% of the library's funding comes from the city. The other half comes from the federal government and even the EU. That's different.
I was impressed with the shiny newness and offerings. I was curious about policy-level decisions in this library. How does collection development work? What kind of guidelines are in place, and what kind of priorities are made? How balanced is the collection? Considering the library sustained some (relatively minor compared to other libraries) damage during the Homeland War, were there any "deaccession issues"?
We all receive 126-page Annual Reports. Our instructor's photo (Marta Deyrup) is on page 102.
[SLIM students about to visit the Zadar Research Library and State Archive]
16 March, 2010
Željka Aleksić has worked at this library for 20 years and was our energetic guide for our visit. She gave us a history of the library, the way it is organized and how it is used by the public, and showed us all over the facility. We saw the reading room, the closed stacks, and several important holdings. We learned of that this library is linked to German catalogs, which facilitates ILLs. There are approximately 1 million items, but only a fraction (1/5 or 1/4) are in the database. This library also holds two exhibits per year. We also got to meet a bust of the wealthy Venetian founder.
Of interested me most here were the mini lectures down in the basement on various rare and important materials.
It was fascinating to see these materials which related to Croatian history. A 16th century map of Zadar and one showing the Turkish border outside the city walls were both intriguing. Especially as these maps were verifying some of the things that Mladen had told us the day before.
My favorite was the incunabulum "Judita", which was written by Marko
Marulić in the early 16th century. I would have loved to look at it more closely! This is one of the first works written in the Croatian dialect and there are only two copies in all of Croatia. It kind of made me uncomfortable that our host was handling these materials without gloves.
Later we see a statue of this "Father of Croatian Literature" in Split.
Željka also told us that this library was hit and damaged during the Homeland War. Approximately 100 books were destroyed, and the brand-new computers and server. It cost so much to replace, that library development stopped for five years.
[SLIM students ascending stairs of building which houses the University of Zadar library]
16 March, 2010
We begin our day at an administrative building for the University of Zadar. We sit in a small conference room and listen to a lecture from Robert Lončarić, who is a professor of geography, and then Maja Kolega, who works in the international affairs office for the univeristy.
Professor Lončarić gave us a lot of detail about the basic geography of Croatia. He mentioned the state parks. Then he gave a lengthy history of "Croatia". There was a lot to take in. The Slavs didn't even arrive in this area until the 8th century. He says they had the same language until 1400 (or so).
He said "all Slavs", which sounds pretty interesting. That's a big language group and a long time ago. Funny, because I have so many stories of people in Croatia throwing fits over minor language differences between Croatian and Serbian and Bosnian. These things are obviously rooted in political conflict. So I guess you can decide about your language (and culture) based on your goal at hand and change it whenever it is expedient?
It reminds me of a (not very funny) joke:
What's the difference between a language and a dialect?
A language has a flag.
For brevity's sake, he ran through various permutations of Croatia over the centuries - short-lived kingdoms, Hungarians, the Anjou dynasty, the Venetian Republic, The Austrian Empire, Hapsburg, Ottoman Empire, other short-lived kingdoms, Yugoslavia, and now just Croatia.
Of all these versions of Croatia, the biggest one is always held up as "Croatia" and every time some version gets smaller, it is mentioned.
I'm not sure what I think about that.
Maja Kolega gave us information about the university's history, its organization, and how it is working toward standardization with other European universities. She told us a bit about the new university library which is in the works.
Then we went to the university library. Marijana Tomić was our guide. She is working on her PhD and is a research assistant in the LIS department. The library seems small (it holds 100,000 titles). I know many departments have their own libraries, so this may be one reason for it. Also the stacks are closed, so you don't get that sense of how big/many volumes the library has when visiting.
One of the librarians told us that there is a joint catalog, but that software problems are making it hard to share records with other libraries. As we crowded around her in her small office, I was struck by how understanding we were (as a group) of her problems. A librarian is a librarian. You could see a hint of relief in her face when we offered our sympathetic comments.
[advertisement for Museum of Ancient Glass]
15 March, 2010
This was a very nice new museum. Our museum guide, Anamarija Eterović, was one of the archaeologists who worked on the dig which unearthed these Roman artifacts. It was a huge discovery of glass from the 1-3 centuries - a rare find. The glass is isolated from the human remains and other grave goods which were also found. They were taken away to the capital. But the glass was amazing, I'll never forget it. I had a hard time associating my idea of "first century" with the artistry and delicate craftmanship of these glass items.
So that was a lesson learned. Don't make assumptions about history, knowledge, and ability.
Again, I thought it was wonderful to devote a museum to this collection. It is a unique link to direct local history. But I wonder about the connection to today. Do people from Zadar consider this their heritage? In this case, maybe it is. What about other Croatians?
After we returned home, I went back to read Nelson Graburn's chapter (3), "Learning to Consume: What is Heritage and When is it Traditional". It was very germane, but didn't exactly answer my questions.
The visit to Preko later that afternoon was enjoyable. The ferry ride reminded me of Seattle. Strolling around the rural town was a nice way to see a sliver of real life. Later went to see the Greeting to the Sun light up at night.
[Footbridge across Jazine Bay leads to a gate in the ancient wall surrounding Zadar's Old Town]
15 March, 2010
We make our way by city bus to this same spot each morning for our day's events to unfold. Today is our first official day in Zadar - the town we will be focusing on in the service learning component of our course. We begin with a city tour by Mladen Masar. He is a senior librarian at the Zadar City Library.
We spend about an hour and a half walking around and hearing about the history of the area, the city, the buildings we're seeing and the roads we're walking on. This little part of Zadar is a peninsula between Jazine Bay and the Adriatic Sea. It was founded by the Romans in the 5th century and survived many trials over its long history. We learn that 60% of this Old Town was destroyed by Allied bombing in WWII, so we are lucky to see what remains.
There was a lot of information in the who-did-what-to-whom vein. Hard to keep it straight. But then I get even more confused.
This town's history is not really "Croatian" is it? It was founded hundreds of years before Slavs even moved into Croatia. And who knows how long before they made it all the way to the coast? And then, Venice controlled Zadar..for 400 years! How many generations of people is that? I kept wondering what language they spoke during all of these time periods.
The Sea Organ and the Greeting to the Sun were wonderful in their own right, but they also created a balance between old and new. They were signs of culture and memory for today's Zadar.
14 March, 2010
Arrived at Zagreb airport mid-morning. Nonchalance about missing luggage in direct proportion to level of exhaustion. Suitcase arrived promptly on next Lufthansa flight. Looking forward to meeting my classmates, but didn't have the requisite energy to pull it off. Everyone was congregated in the airport cafe waiting for the next arrival. As I sat slumped against a wall nearby, a kindly old man approached me:
Man: "??", "??", "??" (in Croatian)
Me: "I'm sorry, I don't know Croatian" (in Croatian)
Man: "Do you speak German?" (in German)
Me: "A little" (in German)
Man: "Are you okay?" (in German)
Me: "Yes. I'm very tired. I'm here with them [pointing towards group]" (in German)
Man: "Okay" [he smiles understandingly and walks away]
That's how tired I was - complete strangers were worried about me. Ha ha.
A brief excursion into town gives us just enough time to eat before we leave for Zadar on a bus. It seems a shame, because we have no time to see the city or visit any kind of library or memory institution while we are here. We arrived at the Zadar bus station after a 3+ hour drive. It's dark, we're tired, and we wait patiently for the taxi situation to get resolved so we can get to our hostel.
The hostel is adequate. It's clean and quiet. Nothing left to do except go to sleep.
Zagreb airport -
Zadar Youth Hostel -