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My first steps in academic life in US were guided by two wonderful professors Chip Bruce and Ann Bishop. They were the idealist persons in my life that overestimated me big time.

They fostered the spark for the search of meaning in me and now this search is taking us on separate paths. I’m scared because I don’t know if my direction is already set at the right angle to make sure I become what I can be (like in prof. Frankl‘s diagram above) but this looks like a good time to figure it out.

Ann and Chip, with humility, I thank you both.

Our Uruguayan friends came to study in US, were our neighbors for four years and recently returned to their country. They   saw this movie and insisted that I should see it too.  It is a video with  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s presentation at TED.

She is sharing her stories but manages, as good tellers do,  to tell the stories of many people. Among them, she is telling of  the lessons learned while being an international student in US, where “international” is mostly developing countries and where “learning” is not limited to what is thought in classes.

I’ve been living for some years now in the international community of Orchard Downs in Champaign-Urbana campus in US and her stories resonated so much with me. It is true that we, as outsiders, are often expected to fit the  given stereotype but is nonetheless true that we bring here our own single story version of the others. In time though, we get to share and live new stories together and the one story becomes many stories and many friends. As a proof for this I have my dear friends, who are getting ready for summer in Montevideo but long for the colorful fall of Illinois, that think of their Romanian friend when they hear Chimamanda Adichie speak.

There is  something else that, I suspect will get sooner or later into  Adichie’s work (if is not there already). Once you know multiple stories and connect in a meaningful way with the other … you cannot accept one story versions anymore. The hard part though is that people around you will continue to be happy with what they know: the single true story.

After one and a half year away I am back in Romania for a short visit.  I have the feeling that things changed in better but I also learned that I am lacking  language/skills that would alow me to fully communicate with people around here…Even people that live and work in Romania seem to have the same problem but for me it feels even more strange because I am able to better communicate with people from my US community (that come from all over the world) then people back home…This feels more powerful in my profession where even though I want to put what I know to a good use I cannot do it because I don’t speak the same language with most of the professionals.

Hopefully my struggle to know how to love will help me learn all the languages I need in order to do the work.

Old Dilemma – the cultural magazine that I’ve already talked about – had as theme for this week’s issue: “How we used to read in communism”. With a big question like this, addressed to Romanian students and intellectuals I was curious to see the answers. I already knew about informal networks that existed in Romania back then that circulated the books. Everybody respected a “good” book and was desperately trying to get one for their own library.  A visit to the house of a middle class Romanian in Communism would surprise any Western visitor. The center piece of the living room was always a library. The number of volumes differed, but my guess was that there was no direct connection between income and number of volumes. Having a library was setting a social status.

In Dilemma  intellectuals, mostly writers, expressed their thoughts, shared their experience about reading during Communism. While reading about them, I realize that books were valuable not only because of their content but because of their potential anti Communist content. A book was more popular and was sold right away if there were rumors that it had difficulties with the censorship or if the author was not popular with the regime. After books that were said to be “good” and were nowhere to be found in bookstores, the black market would start making profit out of them. A policemen would confiscate a book who’s author was not liked by the regime and wold sell it on the black market.  I was very little aware of the economic role of books back then.

Anyway, the public or school libraries are mentioned briefly in this issue of Dilemma about reading in Communism:

Mirel Banica presents public libraries as places where one could get books only in cases of “extreme emergency. There [ in libraries] it was cold, dirt, dusted books. But what wander me away from there was the deep hate that comrades librarians had for us, they were profound disturbed from their hibernation by our request […]”

When in high school Radu Pavel Gheo wanted to read Marx’s The Capital so he went to the library. (Of course this was not a “good” book)

Mihai Dinu Gheorge mentions libraries as places where people could find books. However they come only third  after Book stores and Second hand bookshops.

Vintila Mihailescu was very disappointment to discover, after 1990 that intellectuals from West did not have their own huge library but were borrowing books from the library. “And I was dreaming years after years that Them, out there, were spoiling themselves in big libraries, spending nights on endless corridors full of bookshelves…” ( He is talking about private libraries …The idea of a public one, for public sharing is not there)

Where does one start to rehabilitate an institution that existed only for a small number of people in “extreme emergency” situations and had such a bad image. A comparative research with UK or USA libraries would seems pointless( What am I thinking!!!). We are so far from them and yet we (librarians and our public libraries) need to be so close to be able to play an ctive role in our communities.

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