LIS 570 in Rotterdam
Okay, I will be the first to admit that research is not my first love. Maybe not even my second or third… I won’t go on, so as to (hopefully) avoid permanently offending those who do love research. Let me just say that when the opportunity arose to take LIS 570 as a one month class in Europe, you better believe that I jumped at the chance. No questions, no hesitation, just an immediate email to Trent asking him to sign me up!
Suffice it to say that I have not been disappointed with that decision. There is still another two days of class left, but with the deadline for articles looming over me, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that my feelings won’t change substantially in that short amount of time.
The following is a (somewhat) brief attempt to fill you in on the *real* story behind what happened in Rotterdam/Amsterdam this summer. (Names may have been changed to protect the innocent.)
Classes here have been mostly of the seminar/discussion-type, which is right up my alley. I prefer it to lecture any day. For our very first day of class, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and hold class outside in a nearby park. We found a lovely shady spot under the trees and while we proceeded to discuss important aspects of research methods, the birds decided that Trent made a lovely target – and pooped right on him! But Laura Schick came to the rescue with her Oxy-cleanTM and TideTM pen. (That girl comes prepared, let me tell you!) Due to rainy weather, and perhaps Trent’s rain dance and prayers to avoid more bird droppings, we held class in the breakfast room of our hotel after that. It was a bit crowded, and while less entertaining, perhaps a bit more conducive to actual learning.
We have also had a few guest lectures from Erasmus University and Delft Technical University in conjunction with the Virtual Knowledge Studio. All of our guest speakers have a phenomenal grasp on the English language, making me feel like a total slacker for only speaking one language and enough snippets of others to get by in most Romance-language based countries. As for the lectures themselves, they covered topics ranging from creating a new OPAC for the Delft library to social tagging digital media content. It is amazing to consider what a diverse range of things are being done by professionals in our field. Makes me pretty excited to get out there and do it myself. Sure hope I can find someone to hire me… Maybe if I move to Delft??? Actually, there was some talk of possible internship opportunities in the future. If it works out for you to do it, I highly recommend that you take advantage of it!
One of the other requirements of the class has been to form research groups. Each group has been assigned to come up with a topic and a research question. After deciding what area to focus on, the groups must plan a research project in great detail – but without ever actually implementing it. This is due to time constraints. You really can’t do a high quality research project in just 10 weeks. My group has chosen to look at the use of multicultural literature in public library story-times. I’m kind of sad that we won’t be able to see the project through to completion, as I think the results could be quite interesting. The future possibilities are rather exciting, though. You also need to know that we will be writing that big ole paper when we get home, so don’t think that we are actually done with 570. For us, most of the work is still to be completed.
But now for what you really want to hear about: the extracurricular activities! One of the first things that we did as a group was a dinner the first day of class. Trent’s wife Melinda joined us, and regaled those of us close enough to hear with stories of how they met, why Trent doesn’t like birds (it goes deeper than just having one poop on him at the park), and other fabulous tales.
I have to admit that one of the other rewarding things about this trip has been the free time available. We were strongly encouraged to spend that time exploring Dutch culture while we were here. In order to do that, many frites (French fries) and krokets (fried nuggets of joy), as well as much beer and cheese were consumed. The free time also allowed us to explore other parts of The Netherlands besides Rotterdam and Amsterdam such as Delft, Dordrect, Den Haag, Utrecht and Maastrict. I also took advantage of the long weekends to go to Prague and Berlin; but those are different stories that I will be happy to share with you some other time.
On one day trip I discovered that I particularly love Delft – not just because Delft has lots of canals, charming old buildings, and blue and white pottery (some of which has genitalia on it if you are paying attention). I loved Delft because of its tasty cheese. Well, okay, that is true, too, but the real reason is because of their fabulous libraries.
We went to the Technical University library which has a true green roof (sorry, Ballard branch. I love you dearly, but this one puts you to shame). It has green grass growing on it and is sloped from the ground up so that students can sit on it. Amazing! They are also considering putting in a free coffee bar, with quality coffee, and many other innovative ideas that I can’t remember at the moment. We also went to the D.O.K. (Delft Knowledge Center?) which is the really creative label for the Delft Public Library. Again, right there on the forefront in the innovation department. Let me just say that on the directors first day, he said “We need to get rid of these books!” Granted, that tears at my heartstrings and I don’t agree with the sentiment at all. However, what he was doing was forcing people to think about the future of the library and why we do things the way that we do them. Is there really a reason behind it or is it just the way we have always done it and so that is the way it always should be done? He is trying to look beyond the next 5 years and into the next 50 or 100 instead. He has a really creative and responsive team of people working with him, and this is one of the places for possible internships in the future. Check it out, people, I’m serious!
Now, as we are quickly nearing the end of our time together, there is only one group event left. It will be a dinner at an African restaurant on the final evening of the class. This place has “antelope stew,” which I know that all of you who have read Buckland will get quite a chuckle over. It will be odd to leave the group; we’ve really bonded during the rain and over beer and sharing rooms and experiences together. Yet I also know that many of us are yearning to be back in Seattle – back with our pets, loved ones, privacy, cell phones, and believe it or not, fresh fruits and vegetables! I know that Trent fantasizes leading another NEX program, but I don’t know if it will be in time for any of you to participate. I hope it is. And if it’s not, check into some of the other ones that UW offers. They really are a fabulous learning and growth opportunity.