Zagreb, Croatia: A travel log

This entry outlines some of my experiences while attending a library conference in Zagreb (Croatia) March 2 - 5, 2006. From what I saw, librarianship in Croatia is similar to librarianship in the United States except the profession does not seem to be graying. From a cultural point of view, Croatia is a mixture of old and new providing opportunities for a great deal of diversity.

oranges at market
oranges at market
golden angel
golden angel
Archbishop's Palace
Archbishop's Palace

Between Thursday, March 2 and Sunday, March 5 I visited a tiny part of Croatia. The main purpose of my visit was to give the opening address for a library conference. The theme of the conference was open source software in libraries, and it was entitled called "Otvoreno kao... knjiznica" which, roughly translated, means "Open as a... library." The conference was attended by 250 people from all over the country. About one third of the attendees seemed younger as opposed to older, and only sixteen of those people were students. It seems the library profession is renewing itself in Croatia.

My presentation was entitled "Open source software for libraries in 30 minutes." In it I enumerated a number of characteristics of open source software pertinent to libraries, namely: 1) open source software is about community, 2) open source software is as free as a free kitten, 3) investment in open source software is an investment in personnel, 4) open source software requires a greater degree of computing responsibility, and 5) open source software makes it easier for libraries to innovate. The presentation went over rather flat, but the ideas I was presenting were new to many of the attendees. On the other hand, through the grapvine the following comment was received, "He was talking about the future!"

Next up was Iryna Kuchma from the International Renaissance Foundation. She gave an overview of open access publishing efforts within the OSI and eIFL as well as in the Ukraine. The presentation had few surprise for me, except I was struck by the amount of open access publishing taking place in Europe compared to the United States. Later, after discussing the issue with Iryna, we postulated this was true because scientific communities in Europe are more directly funded by the government plus the fact that many European countries have national libraries.

In the afternoon and the next morning I facilitated two MyLibrary workshops:

The goals of this workshop are to describe the functionality of MyLibrary, demonstrate a number of ways it can be used, and make participants more aware additional venues for creating and maintaining digital libraries. At the end of the workshop participants will be able to: describe what MyLibrary can and can not do, design a faceted classification system, understand how to use the MyLibrary API to create digital library collections and implement digital library services, outline a process of harvesting OAI content into a MyLibrary instance, as well as outline methods to syndicate MyLibrary content.

The first workshop was attended by fifty library school students. The second by thirty conference participants. I sincerely believe both groups of people felt their time was well-spent and went away with a broader understanding of the way digital libraries could be implemented and maintained.

The balance of my time was spent being a tourist. Croatia has been a country since 1991. It has a total population of more than four million people. About one million of those people live in Zagreb, the capital. Zagreb is a mixture of old and new. It is a place where East meets West. Zagreb really began around the year 1000 with two towns side-by-side. Over time the towns became united but not after a number of military conflicts. Zagreb had a growth spurt around the time of the Hapsburgs and consequently, the medieval towns gave way to Viennese architecture. As a part of the former Yugoslavia some of the architecture is Communist in style. Big. Square. Functional. Zagreb is now in the process of building more modern architecture. There as a lot of construction on the outskirts of the older parts of town. While wandering around Zagreb I was impressed by the markets, the squares, and the people strolling arm-in-arm.

Church of St Mark
Church of St Mark
Castle Varazdin
Castle Varazdin
Castle of Trakoscan
Castle of Trakoscan

On the Sunday my hosts (Marijana Glavica and Dobrica Pavlinusic) and I drove to Varazdin and Trakoscan where we saw castles, churches, and more public squares. The unexpected snow storm made the touristing extra exciting. We had both of the castles in Varazdin and Trakoscan all to ourselves because there were no other tourists on the road. On the way home we spent time talking libraries and librarianship. We discussed in depth use of "tagging" in the online catalog. A good time was had by all.


Creator: Eric Lease Morgan <eric_morgan@infomotions.com>
Source: This page was never formally published.
Date created: 2006-03-14
Date updated: 2006-03-14
Subject(s): Zagreb; Croatia; travel log;
URL: http://infomotions.com/musings/zagreb/