Sunday, June 10, 2012

Russia: Day 9

I know, I know. I am very behind. I have not been faithful to posting in my adventures in Russia. In fact, I am back in the U.S.A now. But I will still post what I did during my last few days in St. Petersburg. On day 9 we went to two libraries: Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library and the Pushkin Children's library. 
The Presidential library was rich. Not rich in history or rich in culture or rich in character. Money rich. 
Its collection was also completely digital.

Having a completely digital library was both a dream and a nightmare come true. Dream because having things online makes the materials accessible to a much wider audience. We were told that people all over the world have access to materials through the library website. All you need is to make a free account, and you have access to all of the databases, manuscripts and books available in the digital archives. What was really cool was the 3D view of book covers you can get on the website. Our guide was correct in saying that while conducting research the book cover can play a major part.
Other parts of the dream were the cool little techie parts such as turning a projected book with your hand using sensors. I'm proud to say I turned it on my first try.

Conference room in the Presidential Library
The nightmare was that this is all available online. Yes, they needed librarians to facilitate the information, and there are questions coming in by email for them to answer. But since everything can be done online, people do not need to enter the library. The sense of community is lost, the human interaction is gone, and the peacefulness that comes form going to a place where knowledge is everywhere is eliminated. It made me wonder, if everything down to looking at the cover is available digitally, what will happen to libraries as a brick and mortar institution? 

Another thing about the Pres. Library: creepy amounts of security. Everywhere I looked there was a camera or a one-way mirror. There were cameras and microphones in the room where we had the Q&A, and I might have even seen one in the toilet bowl.
Q&A. See that little black thing in the middle of
the table? Security camera. 
The Pushkin Children's Library was not quite as tight on security, but was high on the smell of BO. The librarians were quite enthusiastic. I wanted to be as enthusiastic, since I want to go into YA librarianship, but I was way too tired. I was doing okay at first, but once we were sitting around being shown children's books, I was done. I wanted to curl up and sleep right then. But I'll talk about what I liked while I was awake.

The mini books. Not only was the guy's voice hilarious (Mrs. Doubtfire, anyone?) but the books were cool, too. I liked the invisible book about an invisible man the most. So clever. 
There was a fun Sherlock Homes display, too. I liked that it was interactive and made kids think. There was also a large foreign language book collection, and it was great seeing how dedicated they were to collecting the best-of-the-best. I loved seeing the different illustrations in all of the books. 
Foreign Language books 

Books. CATS!

The biggest micro book in the world.
It's 64 pages. 

Invisible book about an invisible man.
Sherlock Homes display

Which brings me to the robots. Yes, There were robots. They were awesome. People can talk to them and the robots will respond in whatever language they are being spoken to in. When the librarian said they had cameras in them so they could move around, I immediately felt like the Presidential Library was watching us.

After visiting the two libraries, I was exhausted. I felt like I could fall asleep while standing. But there was still more to be done! We had the afternoon to ourselves, so a big group decided to go to St. Isaac's Cathedral. I couldn't not go. I mean, how often will I go to Russia? So I sucked it up and headed on over.
Walking to the top of
St. Isaac's. Hi Matt!

At the top
So amazing

View from the top
We decided to walk to the top of the cathedral and then check out the inside. It was a good walk to the top. Lots and lots of stairs. But we made it, and it was well worth it. It was the best best view of the city I could have asked for!

Lynn getting a good shot.
After hanging out on top of the world for a while, we went inside. It was no Church on Spilled blood, but it was still pretty amazing.

And now I know you're wondering what I ate for dinner. Because that is obviously the most important part of the day! Well, I went back to the Soviet Cafe. And I took pictures! It was just as yummy as the night before.
Cheese plate and tomatoes

Cherry Pelmeni

Beef Strofanoff
After this delicious meal we went to Burger King for ice cream. Because no day in St. Petersburg is complete without ice cream.

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