In ending my Erasmus plus visit to Zagreb, I must once pay tribute to Dragutin Nemec (Dado) for being an extraordinary host. A lawyer, librarian, a scholar, a polyglot ( and a footie fan par excellence) –he was unfailingly cheerful, helpful and informative on the history, culture, legal and library systems of Croatia. I owe him a debt of thanks for arranging such a wide-ranging, and engaging exchange for me.

Here is he is in his native environment.

On Friday, I had a memorable tour with Dado through the building of the law faculty/library and once again was witness to how Zagreb Law Faculty maintains its history while looking steadfastly to the future. Themes of inclusivity and diversity were very present…

….alongside reminders of how things were done in the past. These are depictions of acceptable legal means of torture promulgated by Empress Maria Theresa in the mid 18th century. I can’t confirm whether they were also used on students as punishment for late return of books.The old Deans were certainly imposing figuresDado is currently engaged alongside fellow librarian Marija Tomečak (Maja) in discussions with the Croatian government on the new Croatian libraries law and are campaigning tirelessly to ensure that the position and importance of libraries such as this are recognised by the national authorities. I must also thank Maja for the series of question and answer sessions she undertook with me which certainly made me aware of aspects of the profession and its future development which I was previously unaware of. Therein possibly lies the best  reasons for Erasmus Plus visits such as these- exchanges of best practice and cultural interaction. Zagreb 2019 certainly was all that and more. Vidimo Se Zagreb – See you soon Zagreb.

Statue of St George, Zagreb

With special thanks to Corinne Rees , Exchange & Study Abroad Assistant –Swansea university- for guiding me through the Erasmus process-start to finish.

 

 

 

May 28th, 2019

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I was extremely lucky today to get an invite to tour the University Main Library which is also the National Library for the whole of Croatia. It was fascinating to tour a library with such a dual role to serve students as their central academic library and the country as a deposit library. The library was established by Jesuits in 1607 and went through many changes and locations until it moved into its current building in 1995. There are now over 3 million items in the collection.

Progress is very important to the Croatian people and the library’s onward push into the future can be exemplified by the fact that, while on one hand treasuring scrolls from the 1200s, it also now offers an amazing relatively low-cost 3D printing service to its users.

Perhaps more impressively and a sign of the huge esteem in which libraries are held in Croatian society- from the 1st of January 2020 the library will become the seat of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union EU for 6 months. Refurbishments were well underway to have the building ready to take on such an important role. When you look to the ceiling of the fourth floor of the library cleverly placed mirrors enable you to see  Zagreb city as if looking out a window.

Here are some links on Library`s  virtual exhibitions and digitized collections:

http://virtualna.nsk.hr/ 

http://db.nsk.hr/

With thanks to Ana-Marija Tkalčić who guided me through the library, Iva Perinić who presented the Manuscripts and Old Books Collection to me and to Ivana Kežić Pucketić for being such a kind host. And finally why the mention of the ‘red baskets’ at the start of this blog entry. Well that is because all users must deposit their bags at lockers before entering the library proper and carry all their belongings with them in cute red baskets: the effect of all these baskets dotted around the reading rooms make the library look very colourful indeed.

May 24th, 2019

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On Wednesday, I bumped into the Croatian high school student tradition marking the end of studies –Norijada – thousands on students from all the schools congregate in Zagreb city centre to party, throw eggs and flour and blow whistles until the police escort them to the river to sleep it off . https://youtu.be/lbyQ3jrrIjg?t=61

To avoid the flour (very cheap as opposed to expensive milkshakes) I took refuge with my Law Periodical Library colleagues in their beautiful building in Croatian Republic Square.

They have been superb hosts and our interviews have been jam-packed in both directions- exchanging experiences and musings – aside from learning about the typical library, student and professorial concerns, I have picked up on two Croatian concepts which I thought were really interesting. The first is ‘Kafensati’ – literally ‘to drink coffee’ – but in the academic environment here this represents a precious workplace glue. Croatians love their coffee and can always find time for a cup – to some, it might look like they are skiving from work but in the time spent nursing their favourite beverage to the dregs, workplace efficiency and future planning can be improved and thorny problems resolved. Working relationships are nourished here and suggestions on how to better do things may arise. Its importance as a social convention cannot be overestimated

Here are my new ‘kolege’ doing just that.

Left to right ‘Dragutin , Slavica, Vlado, Petra, Donna, Maja

The other concept is Kampanjski –which the dictionary translates as unsystematic, last-minute, sporadic, corporate, off-and-on, in spurts – but which here means almost like a constant form of intense Blitzkrieg working – working shorter hours but intensely; to get the job done. In that way, they may have more time to enjoy their wonderful museums, parks and cuisine and of course coffee!

 

 

May 23rd, 2019

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Today’s Erasmus highlight was a visit to the Supreme Court of Croatia guided by my gracious host  Marino Jureković (and in the ever helpful and informative company of Dragutin Nemeć Periodicals Librarian for Law. Croatia has a fascinating multilayered, multilingual legal past which has seen kingdoms, empires, dictatorships, and revolutions come and go. The guardian of this mass of information is the remarkable polymath Marino Jureković who acts as librarian researcher and court official – to the Judges and advisors of the supreme court – a real one-man show.

Dragutin and Marino

The beginnings of the library date back to the second half of the nineteenth century when significant changes were taking place in Croatian political life and the Croatian judiciary was beginning to achieve a high level of independence.  A high court was founded in Zagreb in 1850 – the so-called Banski stol – and in 1862 a Royal Chamber of Seven was founded as the supreme tribunal of the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia…and it had a considerable library to support its research needs. This library has continued to be developed to this day under Marino’s guidance. Marinoćs knowledge of the materials in his library and of the court is said to be such that =he can do google searches in his head to find most answers”

The library is officially listed as a “special library”, meaning that it is of particular importance to the profession it serves. It contains 25,000 individual books and periodicals. As a professional reference library it is primarily designed for justices and court advisors of the Supreme Court, other lawyers may use it upon by asking permission from to the President’s office.

Above, working knowledge of multiple languages is a necessity for many Croatian lawyers and librarians.

Later, it was a distinct shift of mood from the austere character of the court to see this very unusual and highly recommended museum in the government quarter of the old town. The Museum of Broken Relationships’ I wonder how they catalogue items there. Photo below

 

 

 

May 22nd, 2019

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How apt in the week of the Eurovision final that have arrived in this beautifulhistorical and vibrant city as part of the Erasmus exchange programme to investigate all things library‘-past present and future. I am being kindly hosted by Dragutin Nemec –Periodicals Librarian at the Law Faculty Library of the University of Zagreb –which celebrates its 350th anniversary this year. These blog entries this week will not seek to be exhaustive but rather highlight something that stands out from the days encountersvisits and meetingsWriting this blog is slower than usual as I have to get used to a whole new kind of keyboard and keep on finding Z  in the place of Y and hitting other new‘ characters Ć č Ž Š Đ  One initial experience which truly enthralled me was my visit to the Croatian Academy  of Sciences and Arts where I had the chance to see a stunning collection which runs from Misal po zakonu rimskoga dvora from 1483 to the 21st Century ‘DiZbi.HAZU –a unique free digital repository of the Academy’s scientific and  historic holdings.  

I had always read how William Tyndale’s 1526 bible in English was seen as shocking and subversive, since translation from Latin  into the vernacular was not permitted (and Tyndale was burnt at the stake by Henry VIII for his ‘transgression’ but learnt at the academy that Pope Innocent IV  in 1248 allowed The Croats to use their own language and writing the Glagolitic alphabet in the liturgy. Noone else in Europe had such permission. Here I am alongside Tamara Runjak ‘ rare books librarian beside a poster in Glagolitic whicsays ”Baš Baš Baština – Really Real Heritage 

 

 

 

 

What a jump therefore it was to then be shown DiZbi.HAZU : the  collected digitized materials of the 14 Academy’s research units, museum-gallery units and the Academy Library, launched in 2009. The support of the  Europeana project has allowed the academy to offer access  24.003 digitized items ranging from books, journals, cast sheets, manuscripts, microfilms, music, photographs, plaster casts, medals and plaques, paintings, architectural plans and models, video .Go explore at http://dizbi.hazu.hr/ – it’s available in English too. I was really fascinated by the interactive WWI section http://dizbi.hazu.hr/1st_world_war/ 

That’s all for today –more tomorrow !!!!!! 

May 22nd, 2019

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The 2019 winner of the International Dylan Thomas Prize will be announced today – 16th May.  Come along and have a look at our display at the Singleton Park Library featuring the shortlisted authors, previous winners and  a selection of books by contemporary black and minority ethnic writers in Swansea University library.

The Dylan Thomas Prize shortlist reflects the fact that the most talented young writers in English come from many different countries and very diverse backgrounds, including many black writers.    Professor Dai Smith has said of the shortlist:

“Yet again the Swansea University International Dylan Thomas Prize has uncovered a wealth of new talent representing a group of contemporary and diverse voices from across the world”.

Source: Swansea University Press Office

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently there have been calls from students at Cambridge and other universities for English literature and other courses to be “decolonised” by including many more black and minority ethnic writers.

The new Dylan Thomas Prize module at Swansea University will focus on writers longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize, including Zimbabwean Novuyo Rosa Tshuma, American-Ghanaian Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, British-Sri Lankan Guy Gunaratne and British-Ghanaian Michael Donkor.


Would you like to see our library collections made more diverse?

We would welcome your suggestions of books to add to the library – simply fill in the form below with any suggestions you have.

Suggestion form

May 15th, 2019

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Cyhoeddir enillydd Gwobr Ryngwladol Dylan Thomas 2019 heddiw– 16 Mai.  Dewch i weld ein harddangosfa yn Llyfrgell Parc Singleton sy’n dangos yr awduron ar y rhestr fer, enillwyr blaenorol a detholiad o lyfrau gan awduron cyfoes du ac o leiafrifoedd ethnig sydd ar gael yn llyfrgell Prifysgol Abertawe.

Mae’r cwpwrdd arddangos hwn yn cynnwys detholiad o lyfrau gan awduron cyfoes du ac o leiafrifoedd ethnig sydd ar gael yn llyfrgell Prifysgol Abertawe.

Mae’r rhestr fer yn adlewyrchu’r ffaith fod yr awduron ifanc mwyaf talentog yn yr iaith Saesneg yn dod o nifer fawr o wahanol wledydd ac o amrywiaeth o gefndiroedd, gan gynnwys llawer o awduron du.  Mae’r Athro Dai Smith wedi dweud am  y rhestr fer: “Unwaith eto, mae Gwobr Ryngwladol Dylan Thomas Prifysgol Abertawe wedi darganfod toreth o ddoniau newydd, yn cynrychioli grŵp o leisiau cyfoes ac amrywiol o bedwar ban byd”.

Yn ddiweddar mae galw wedi bod gan fyfyrwyr Caergrawnt a phrifysgolion eraill i lenyddiaeth Saesneg a chyrsiau eraill gael eu “dad-goloneiddio” drwy gynnwys llawer mwy o awduron sy’n bobl dduon a lleiafrifoedd ethnig.   Bydd modiwl newydd Gwobr Ryngwladol Dylan Thomas yn canolbwyntio ar awduron a gyrhaeddodd y rhestr hir ar gyfer y Wobr, gan gynnwys Novuyo Rosa Tshuma a anwyd yn Simbabwe, yr awdur Americanaidd-Ghanaidd Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, y Prydeiniwr Sri-Lancaidd Guy Guaratne a Michael Donkor yr awdur Prydeinig-Ghanaidd.

Hoffech chi weld casgliadau mwy amrywiol yn ein llyfrgell?

Byddem yn croesawu eich awgrymiadau am lyfrau i’w hychwanegu at y llyfrgell – llenwch y ffurflen isod gydag unrhyw awgrymiadau sydd gennych.

Ffurflen Awgrymiadau

May 15th, 2019

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The library is working with the Students’ Union to ensure our collections reflect the diversity of our community. We would like your suggestions of books to add to the library.

Suggestion form

Take a look at the reading lists on this webpage for a selection of books available at Swansea University libraries that reflect our diverse community and help us understand different perspectives of life.

May 7th, 2019

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Mae’r llyfrgell yn gweithio gydag Undeb y Myfyrwyr i sicrhau bod ein casgliadau’n adlewyrchu amrywiaeth ein cymuned. Hoffem gael eich awgrymiadau ar gyfer llyfrau i’w hychwanegu at y llyfrgell.

Ffurflen awgrymiadau

Edrychwch ar y rhestrau darllen hyn ar gyfer detholiad o’r llyfrau ar gael yn llyfrgelloedd Prifysgol Abertawe sy’n adlewyrchu ein cymuned amrywiol ac yn ein helpu i ddeall safbwyntiau gwahanol ar fywyd.

May 7th, 2019

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