Monday, September 16, 2013


This post originally appeared on Information Space, the blog of the iSchool at Syracuse University, on 3 August 2012.

What do you get if you take five eager students with diverse interests in librarianship, mix them up with some carefully-chosen readings and classwork, and transplant them to Tuscany for two weeks in the summer? You get a fantastic experience! Led by the fantastic Dr. Sarah Webb, Alec, Ben, Danielle, Sarah, and I all signed up for the iSchool’s Florence pilot program. I didn’t know quite what to expect, but I think I can speak for all of us when I say the reality is exceeding our wildest dreams.
This past Saturday, we assembled our merry band at the doors of Villa Morghen, nestled in the hills northeast of Florence. In less than a week so far, we’ve toured five libraries and a museum in two cities, joined a multinational course on digital librarianship, and still had time to have our own class discussions over gelati.
Every day, as we add more information zones to our list, we gain more context for our discussions, and the value of studying out in the field becomes apparent. When talking about the value of original documents, it helps when you’ve spent the morning looking at the Raphaels and Botticellis you’ve studied throughout your life, but hadn’t seen in person. Talking about the need for preservation becomes somewhat more apparent when you’ve held a book or six from the 17th century. Talking about world heritage gains a new meaning when you’ve stood amidst a multinational, multi-century collection of books that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Taking action is easier when you’ve seen what issues you can address/what problems you may be able to solve/what solutions you can offer, firsthand.
I’m sure you’ll be hearing from all of us in the coming weeks as we spend our time here discussing International Librarianship, visiting every library and museum we can get our hands on, eating some AMAZING food, and writing about the whole thing for credit!  Keep an eye on our personal blogs and on the Twitter hashtag #SUiSchoolFirenze to find out what we’re up to.
We’re looking forward to the rest of the journey–I hope you’ll look forward to following our trip!

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