Author Archives: Marta Deyrup

The New University Building

bishkekuniversityFrom the outside the four-story blue and red building seems out to jut out from its surroundings. Behind the university the rolling green hills just keep pulling your eyes to the horizon; to the left is a large Orthodox church with gold onion domes and to the right is a car repair shop.  Once you go inside the building, though, you see how cleverly designed it is. On the first floor is an area called the Forumauca2, which is an enormous wooden staircase where lectures and performances happen. The floors of the university are made of concrete, the pipes covered in foil–inexpensive and hip materials–and all the spaces are open and relaxed. The students call it their NYC loft.  Just feeling the calmness and happiness the students exude makes me realize just how important a beautifully designed space is to one’s spiritual and physical being.

In the past three days, I’ve had some kind of conversation or session with all the librarians. What I sense is an academic library that has an enormous possibilities for change, following the creative path set in place by the building it is housed in. Maybe the space is so collaboratively laid out that there is enough momentum in the building to start moving things along just on their own. Wouldn’t that be nice.

New York to Bishkek by Way of Paris and Moscow

imageSince one of the themes of this trip seems to be technology, I will comment on how easy it is to hook into the international grid here in Paris’s CDG airport. What a difference from the late 70s when I was living in Paris, sending my mother a letter every week, and calling home was so expensive it only signaled an emergency or one’s birthday. I am drinking a Starbucks chai latte, have called  our home landline via Skype, am now using my IPad  to write and take photos and occasionally read  on my Kindle to pass the time. I just subscribed to a fabulous service ACI Blog Index. Without it I never would have found out about reports like this one American professors using information: the latest Ithaka S+R survey results  (I would have if I had been reading Bryan Alexander’s blog).

Reading the library and information science reports and commentary here and through other organizational and institutional sources,  I’ve become convinced that the line between commercial and non-profit publishers will blur even further.  It will require an incredibly motivated and technically sophisticated workforce–you can see it already shaking out in the academic library job ads. If I were to do my career over I would jump at the chance to join the profession. Who wouldn’t want to be a scholarly communications librarian, or a digital archivist, or placed in charge of digital research services? And it’s not the same old–these jobs are different, much more cerebral and creative. These librarians–if they are even called that–will be the ones who will rethink, remix, and repurpose our information sources and services–it’s a challenging and liberating thought.

Preparing for the trip


I’ve started to prepare for my trip to Bishkek by posting reading materials on a Web resource page for the librarians I will meet on my visit to the  American University of Central Asia Library. I did something similar when I went on a Fulbright to Rabat, Morocco in 2003. What a difference in the state of technology then and now. In 2003 we had our own catalog; today we tag records with our holding symbol in the  universal database, Worldcat. In 2003 all my readings were printed out as handouts; today because Web 2.0  is dynamic and interactive my handouts are downloadable.  Most importantly, the standardization of protocols for posting and retrieving information has changed how information moves and can be reconfigured. Snap your fingers. It’s that fast.

Materials at the site include resources on information literacy, services for faculty, collection development and strategic planning reports and a section on academic library policies. I am curious to see the response of the librarians to some of the free tools I’ve listed. Can they recreate with open source tools vendor products that are too expensive for them to purchase?  It would take a lot of ingenuity and skill.  Any thoughts or additions? Here are some of the tools:


In April, the weather should be in the 40s and 50s–the beginning of Spring. I will be staying in university housing and should be able to walk to the library. I am hoping my Russian is still strong enough to be able to communicate–if not professionally, at least when I go to the market.  By coincidence, the architect who designed this library, Henry Myerberg, wrote the introduction to the book I just finished editing, Creating the High-Functioning Library Space  His visit should overlap with mine, so we can talk about what he intended for the space.