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Sarah jedzie do Polski!

August 12, 2013

It is with great joy that I report that I will be spending two weeks in October in Poland, touring public libraries and speaking at a national conference (congress).

From October 12-26 I will be in Poland, starting in Warsaw and then visiting the cities and libraries of Zielona Góra, Gorzów Wlkp,  Kraków, Opole, Kielce, and Olsztyn.

This is part of the Embassy’s “America @ Your Library” program, so I will be discussing participatory library services and how libraries are doing amazing things here in the US.  I am thrilled to have this opportunity and am looking to you, my readers, for some help.

  • What should I be sure to cover? What public library programs and services have wowed you completely?
  • If you’ve been to Poland, what should I be sure to visit/see/do/eat/drink?

Look for some interesting updates coming from me in October as I travel to Eastern Europe for the first time. In the meantime, all ideas are welcome!

“Sarah jedzie do Polski!”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Today was one of the days I took a step back from my work at the reference desk and thought “wow, I can’t believe I get paid to do this all day!” In our first open hour I scanned and emailed adoption papers for a very grateful family, helped a woman get set up on one of our computers so she could email her grand kids (her home computer was not working), found contact information for the Secretary of State (of WA), and helped two teens find books they wanted. I think public libraries are just so HELPFUL, and where else can you go in a community that has staff waiting and ready to just help with so many things? Maybe this is too feel good, or hokey, but public libraries really are incredible.

  2. Ryan Says:

    My former director did this last year, but went to Greece. The director had an amazing time talking with the Greek librarians and sharing the vision and ideas that was utilized here in the States. I remember that a focus was on partnerships – combining resources and staff of various institutions to provide service to the people – and on renovating/remodeling libraries on limited budget.

  3. Justin Hoenke Says:

    If you run into any Pleczynski’s, say hello. That’s my family from my mum’s side. Have fun awesome lady!

  4. Heather Says:

    These are some of my favorite Polish foods: pierogi russkie (potato and farmer’s cheese dumplings, usually served with fried onions), mizeria (cucumber salad with dill, vinegar or lemon juice, and sour cream), żurek (sour rye soup), naleśniki (crêpes), chruściki (fried pastries dusted with powdered sugar, also called faworki), sernik (cheesecake, but less sweet and denser than American ones). In Krakow you’ll likely see vendors selling Obwarzanek krakowski, which is sort of like a pretzel, sort of like a bagel, and quite specific to the region.

    I’d recommend trying miód (mead), which is viscous.You could also probably find good plum brandy.

    Enjoy! My mouth is watering after thinking about all of these dishes!

  5. Gem Says:

    I don’t know what’s normal in Poland. However, I was surprised by the lack of toys in the children’s area when I went to a couple libraries in Hong Kong with my preschooler. The main Hong Kong library does have a “toy library” but it’s specifically meant for parents and children to interact together. Of course, parent/child interaction is a good thing. However, as the mother of a preschooler, I find toys in the children’s room very helpful because it keeps my son occupied, where I can see him, just long enough for me to search and find more books to take home for him.

  6. Jimmy the Geek Says:

    Your patrons are soooo lucky to have you, Sarah. Have a great time in Poland!

  7. Ann Says:

    I love Pima County Public Libraries in AZ. They have one of the first seed libraries, and they have a nurse on staff to help patrons in whatever ways they need (but not actually providing medical treatment, I think). They also have a bicycle library. They have been very innovative in their services, while continuing to offer job services and all the other traditional services as well.

  8. Catherine Voutier Says:

    I visited Krakow last year and it was fab! I loved the Pharmacy Museum Florianska 25. Here are the flickr pics[email protected]/page1/ The pretzels are yum! Krakow is very small and very walkable. There is an underground museum under the Cloth Hall which is fab too. So many museums and galleries! The Jagiellonian University is open to visitors too – the musical clock is fun!

    The exchange rate is insane – I had a 5 course dinner for $36 AU. I felt guilty about having so much money. Poland is very poor and English is not widely spoken in smaller areas. The programs will have to not reliy on technology. I also learnt that books are very very expensive to buy in Poland. I didn’t visit any libraries while I was there though (bad me!) – well, I didn’t have a lot of time.

  9. Agnieszka Says:

    Poland is quite normal, I think 😀 (I am from Poland)
    If you want to taste pierogi at Warsaw maybe you will go to Zapiecek 🙂

  10. Jerzy Says:

    I’m glad to hear you’ll visit Zielona Góra, my hometown! I have fond memories of visiting the library with my grandfather to listen to classical music on LPs in the audio section.
    Take a walk up to the Palmiarnia (greenhouse), enjoy the flora, and have some ice cream if you happen to visit on a warm day.
    Also, Zielona Góra is (I believe) the only Polish region that used to produce wine. The vineyard surrounding the Palmiarnia is mostly historical/symbolic, but commercial wine production has just started up again in the past few years. So, look out for the local vineyards (Krojcig is one) and you could be the first of your friends who can say they’ve had Polish wine 🙂

    Kraków is a beautiful city and you won’t lack for things to eat/drink/see. But I highly recommend taking half a day to tour the Wieliczka salt mine. It’s quite remarkable to walk through miners’ tunnels, see grand hollow chambers and saltwater lakes far underground, and ride the rickety elevators back up. There is even a chapel with an altar, chandeliers, statues, etc. all carved out of salt.

  11. Cathy Leverkus Says:

    I would be interested to hear about what the libraries in Poland have as far as technology. Would Makerspaces be a viable solution? What are some of the unique services provided by libraries in Poland? I can’t wait to see your post about your visit to Poland. Enjoy your stay.

  12. Quinn Says:

    I would research what Anythink libraries are like. We are participatory, consumer-into-producer, community models. At R2, we made several presentations and frequently have libraries from all over the world visiting and we visit them in order to spread the idea of what a library can be and to constantly pursue innovation.

    The atmosphere and focuses are very different from academic and traditional libraries. We have MakerSpaces and Studios where we have 3D printers, textiles with sewing machines, and a lot of other equipment that enables our customers to develop 21st Century skills and explore their creativity.

  13. Marti Says:

    I grow up in Olsztyn city. You could visit Olsztyn castle it is 300ft from main library in Old Town where you can enjoy history of Christopher Columbus. If you have time go to Przystan Restaurant and enjoy diner at sunset. You can travel to Malbork Castle it is the biggest medieval fortress in Europe it is not far from Olsztyn northwest. I hope you will enjoy and have great time.

  14. Mona Czarnecki Says:

    Poland is the country of my Dad and I have had the opportunity to travel there several times. It is quite beautiful and the food is amazing. I envy you for this trip and hope to take a “country intense” tour there soon so I can see the whole country. Have a wonderful time!

  15. Jamie M Says:

    Krakow is very cool. Definitely eat pierogi, people watch in the main square and visit Cloth Hall. We also hired a driver and tour guide for Auschwicz. It’s heartbreaking, but something I was glad I did. Life changing.

  16. Jess Says:

    Agree with Jamie M.’s recommendation of Auschwicz. Being there doesn’t even begin to compare to any number of books, movies or personal interviews.

  17. Rebecca Says:

    Just found this post — hope it’s not too late to comment! I spent ten months teaching English in a village near Warsaw, so I’m really happy that you get to experience the gloriousness of Poland firsthand. In Kraków, definitely spend some time wandering around Stare Miasto (Old Town) — there are tons of lovely squares and cathedrals everywhere. Wawel Castle is also a must — there was a da Vinci exhibit there when I visited; not sure if it’s still there. I also recommend Kazimierz, the old Jewish quarter —- old city walls, centuries-old synagogues, and really poignant memorials and museums everywhere you look. I never made it to Schindler’s factory, but I’ve heard good things about it too. Auschwitz was heartbreaking but definitely a “must” for visiting — like other commenters mentioned, you can read and watch and listen to dozens of Holocaust stories, but it’s still no match for actually going and seeing firsthand what happened. Just watch the time when you’re visiting … in the Auschwitz-Birkenau part of the area, I’ve heard they don’t announce when they’re closing, so it’s entirely possible to get locked in for the night.

    In Warsaw, I spent a lot of time on Ul. Nowy Świat (New World Street) and the surrounding couple of blocks, which has a beautifully restored Old Town, a super-cute New Town, Marie Curie’s birthplace, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Opera House, the church where Chopin’s heart is interned, the Copernicus monument … so many great things! If you’re more into wandering around contemplatively, Łazienki Park is a good place for that.

    Good luck and happy travels! I’m so excited for you!

  18. Barbara Says:

    See You tomorrow in Arteteka (Kraków)!

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