Monday, April 5, 2010

University of Zadar lectures and library tour

[SLIM students ascending stairs of building which houses the University of Zadar library]

16 March, 2010

(Day 3)

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.

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