Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Baltic Research Handbook Trip Summer 2012

I have been in Europe a week, but still haven’t started blogging. It has already managed to be a very busy time, and I held off because I was not sure exactly how to blog this experience. Either I divide the different aspects into my different blogs, or create one blog just for this trip. I think I will go with the existing blogs, with links to the others as needed. My last excuse is laziness, exhaustion, and the fact that I am still looking for a good working rhythm.

All I want to say in this introduction to my research trip, is I will have to warn all researchers, to contact the institutions they want to visit ahead of time, because, using that oft quoted phrase “the only constant in life is change,” I am finding major changes in the library world.  I thought that because I had three months in the Baltics, I was sure to be able to visit all the libraries in that time. Luckily I found out ahead of time that the National Library of Estonia was closing June-August for major repairs, so I was able to set up a visit in May, so that is why I am in Tallinn right now. During my first day in Latvia, a relative took me to see a friend that works in one of the University of Latvia branch libraries. Well, it turns out the main building of the University of Latvia (UL) is closed for extensive renovations, and will not be available during my stay. I also found out that the Latvian Academic Library has been incorporated into the UL library, and that they have closed their multi-story building on Lielvardes street, that housed the sciences. I will have to find out more about that. Tomorrow I am visiting the Academic Library of Tallinn University, which means the Estonian Academic Library has also been combined with a university library. The Academic Libraries are a big deal, as they supported the Academies of Sciences during the Soviet era and often had more substantial collections that the national libraries. Ialso heard one library in Tallinn was to get a new building, so the collection was dispersed, the building torn down, but money ran out and there is no new building. And this is just what I have found out in the first week. I will also have to remind readers in my handbook that Europeans take vacations seriously, and close libraries for a couple of weeks over the summer on a regular basis.

I am looking forward to an exciting summer – Tallinn & Tartu in Estonia, Helsinki, Stockholm, Marburg in Germany, Vilnius & Kaunas in Lithuania, and then as many institutions as I can possibly visit in Latvia. I figure if I learn about memory institutions* in Latvia in detail, in a language I can understand, I can ask better questions of the people I meet in the other countries. I don’t expect to ask all the right questions on these visits, but feel if I make contacts with these people, I will be able to turn to them later with questions.

I also want to apologize for not making entries for all the collections I have visited over the past year. I just haven't had time to sit down and write up even blog level overviews, plus I always like to combine them with photos. So I hope I will be more productive here and get information up on this blog about the collections I have been visiting.

*Memory institutions – new concept for me, but in encompasses libraries, archives and museums, and that seems to be the direction my research is taking me, though I am not sure how much I want to focus on museums.

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