This first week of March has been a bit trying. Both Sarah and I have been sick with colds/flu for the past week – and still the illness lingers. We both had flu shots months ago, too. We are doing our best to keep our spirits up, watching public domain movies on the laptop. (I highly recommend Buster Keaton’s “Sherlock Jr.”) Last night, our friends brought by some groceries and dinner (broccoli soup and a lentil/rice/tofu/onion dish) which were greatly appreciated.
The weather while we’ve been cooped up in our apartment has been sunny – haven’t seen the sun so much since last fall. Not a cloud in the sky, all the snow has melted, and the temperature has gotten as high as 12 C (about 54 F). Today, however, it is overcast again, but expected to get up to 9 C. I just looked at the forecast for the coming week and it looks like the cold is coming back – highs below freezing and threats of more snow. Aw, c’mon, this isn’t fair – we need our sunshine! And spring is just around the corner. Oh well…not much to do about it.
I cancelled classes this past Monday because I was too sick, but I have a lot of work to do anyway. In early April we are planning to visit Prague where I’ve been invited to speak at the library school at Charles University, where I taught while on sabbatical in 2005. A week or so later, I will be presenting at a library conference here in Warsaw. Finally, I will be going to Lodz (pronounced “woodge” to rhyme with “Scrooge”), about a 2 hour train ride from here, for another library conference in early June. For these various presentations, I will be discussing the changes that have happened in the cataloging and metadata services unit at OSU. It is important that my colleagues here in Central Europe understand the changes coming to libraries since what happens in the U.S. often eventually filters through to this part of the world. The more they know now, the easier the transition will be the changes come. I’m talking about the streamlining of paper resource acquisition and cataloging and the retooling for digitized resource management.
The classes I’m teaching this term are an intro to metadata and a seminar on RDA (Research Description and Access, the new cataloging code that is replacing the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd ed. – just a note for my non-library readers). The university has limited enrollment for my courses, so this term I only have 8 in the metadata class and 6 in the RDA seminar, but about half the students are ones I had last term and a few are (again) taking both classes. In general, their English is very good and they are all very bright and eager learners. They are especially thrilled to be learning by doing exercises and having discussions instead of 100% lectures (as they are accustomed to in their other classes). Many of the professors at the Institute of Information Science and Book Studies are part-timers who my hold 2-3 jobs total in order to make ends meet. I suspect many do not have the time to put into preparing for their classes. If the university could pay its professors a living wage, I’m sure the quality of instruction would improve and the quantity of research increase.
I am learning a lot myself in teaching these courses. I must say its strange to be teaching about RDA knowing that many of my colleagues back in the states are actually shifting to the new rules. Those transformations for the OSU cataloging unit will happen after I get back to work in July – which will surely be a very busy time then!