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
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
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!