Dr. Drew's Infrequent Blog

04 March 2006

Airline Review & The Charms of College Towns

Blogs often seem to be about sharing open thoughts on all subjects. As a professional though, there are limits to what one can or should write. Such is the case with my campus visit this weekend. I am staying in the eighth floor of a posh hotel overlooking a lovely college town. I arrived somewhat bedraggled after three flights that took about 15 hours.

Such trips remind me that Oahu is a remote island. The first trip (on Delta) and was pleasant enough, even if I could only sleep for about two hours. I sat next to a nice German woman who spoke no English, but had spent over a month on Molokai and Maui -- two islands I have not yet explored. I haven't spoken German in many years, so my poor high school German slowly came back. She was very keen on the spirituality of waterfalls and Hawaiian chant. This was good practice for this summer’s Europe trip. I used to be able to read some Rilke, but these days my reading seems limited to Buch und Bibliothek.

The flight itself was not packed unlike my usual Northwest experiences, so many people were sprawling. The complimentary snack was also superior to the insult of Northwest's snack for purchase. The film, however, was standard “B” grade fare -- Aeon Flux -- the typical attractive American individual vs. dystopia with enough comic-book-like violence.

In Los Angeles I switched to United, which meant trekking outside and back into security area (another reason I dislike LAX). United flights were more packed (smaller seats, and all taken). I could not understand why United agents loaded one entire plane from the front first! Of course, everything was bottlenecked for 20 or 30 minutes.

Visiting candidates are usually treated like visiting royalty (somewhat like courting). I was pleased to be picked up by a colleague at the regional airport (even though I felt guilty for taking up part of her weekend. We had a most pleasant chat at a nice café. After the travel I was far from hungry, so a Tuscan tomato soup, bread, and hot tea were perfect.

Originally, I had hoped to meet Noriko here, but alas she is at another conference in Ann Arbor. On Sunday I will meet a librarian friend of a friend, some alumni, a real estate agent, and have dinner with the faculty. Monday will be the big day before flying back home (so I can rush to Tuesday's class).

Later, after unpacking, I enjoyed walking around a bit. My father used to teach at the University of Minnesota for years, and I often enjoyed visiting Dinkytown near campus. I reflected on how I miss the charm of college towns, from the great new and used bookstores, affordable and tasty ethnic food eateries, independent cafés, local music scene, record shops, coops, recycled clothing boutiques, and the like. This really is something we miss at Manoa!

In a college town people stay around the campus neighborhood to hang out, study, peoplewatch, etc. At Manoa it is hard to get anyone to stay after classes for anything. I understand the problems though. Besides traffic, parking, jobs and family, we don't have hangouts to entice students to dawdle a few hours between class and meetings, concerts, or lectures. I am hopeful that the legislation to extend Hamilton Library hours will pass, but that is a very different kind of atmosphere in terms of keeping students on campus after 4:30. By the way, US Senator Abercrombie, a former Manoa professor, recently pointed out that the proposed light rail should revolutionize campus life at Manoa.

The sad truth is that is another reason for each department’s isolation at UHM. Few faculty or graduate students attend each other’s brownbag talks. This means we don’t foster the interdisciplinary connections that we should (especially in a campus thousands of miles from the closest research university).

Later tonight though, I recalled one of the downsides of living right on campus. I was exhausted and had finally crashed around 11:00 PM. Around 1:50 though, yelling crowds celebrating a big sports game woke me up. Their screams echoed up this "skyscraper" like a riot. Drunken revelers continued to yell as they returned to their hotel rooms for at least an hour after bar closing time. I am not sure if it was the freezing rain or police that finally quieted the crowds, but I am contented, and will try to go back to sleep.

26 February 2006

HASL Conference

Yesterday I woke up at an ungodly hour to be at the Hawaii Association of School Librarians (HASL) conference by 7:15. I am not a specialist in school librarianship, but had always planned on going to a meeting eventually, since many of our students are in this track. I went this time because I am concerned that a few principals have decided not to fund their school library media center specialist position. This is in response to Act 51 and No Child Left Behind. It seems to be the case especially in smaller schools, but I am concerned about the precedent. Appropriately enough, this year's theme was public relations. There was a good panel on this.

HASL Panel

The conference was held in Fern Elementary School. I enjoyed poking around the Library and seeing some differences from other libraries, such as (below)

Fern Elem. Lib. / Reading Buddies

There also was an interesting history day fair-like exhibit with a history of the school. From the beginning I felt very welcomed. Of course, it was a pleasure to see the smiling faces of alumni from my classes.

HASL alumni

I enjoyed talking with many other alumni and current LIS students too, who made me feel most welcome -- as well as Dr. Harada.

I was proud to show the advocacy website project that my Intro to LIS students are creating to the HASL SLIPR (PR committee). Members Faith Yokoyama and Karen Muronaga were very excited by the project and are grateful to my class for the efforts to get that started.

Fern Elementary is in Kalihi. I had not spent much time there, but it was different. Sometimes it was hard to hear a speaker because the auditorium's PA system picked up a local radio station. The crowing of wild roosters frequently interrupted the speakers. Someone explained that it is a good thing we are teachers first because we know how to pay attention. And everyone was very respectful and well organized. It all made for an interesting contrast to the HLA conferences, which have been held at gorgeous resorts (Lanai, Turtle Bay, Kohala...). Both have their own charm.

After the conference I crossed town to meet Lillian Nicolich (our ALA Student Chapter President) on campus. We tried to put our finishing touches on our ALA Student Chapter of the Year Award application. We put in about 6 hours on this. I think that our chapter deserves the award, but I am proud of everyone regardless of what the judges decide.