Purdue's Technology Shocks Visiting Russian Librarians
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
Posted on March 19, 2003
By Marc B. Geller
"In general we have pretty much the same equipment, but it is very shocking to see how much of this equipment is available," Nora Kondratiev of the Indiana Cooperative Library Services Authority translated for him. "Dmitriy is also shocked with the access of students to this equipment."
Kurchinskiy was one of five Russian librarians who toured Purdue's Digital Learning Collaboratory -- a high-tech multimedia resource center in the Hicks Undergraduate Library -- as part of the Open World Program at the Library of Congress Center for Russian Leadership Development.
Authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1999 as the Russian Leadership Program, Open World brings young emerging political leaders from Russia to the United States to develop better understanding between the two nations. The program gives participants unique opportunities to observe and experience U.S. political, business and community life firsthand.
The visit by the Russian delegation gave Purdue Libraries an opportunity to demonstrate advances in information technology and to show how library technology and services can help people increase productivity.
"I think it's good to discuss these things on a global basis, because all over the world, information is important," said Emily Mobley, dean of Purdue Libraries. "And academic libraries are a key node in that access to information.
"It helps the relations with libraries in other areas, because the research here is global in nature, and there may be a time we need to call on them."
High-tech on display
During the tour of the digital resource center, DLC multimedia specialist Rabieh Razzouk showed the Russian delegation a mimio whiteboard capture system that creates real-time digital images of anything the user writes or draws on a standard whiteboard. Write "Mockba" on the whiteboard, and voilà, the Russian word for Moscow appears on the laptop computer screen just as it is written.
The delegates also learned about the center's high-end personal computers and Macs, miniDV/VHS decks for video editing and transfer, and various state-of-the-art scanners. And Razzouk gave them an idea of the kinds of high-tech equipment available for checkout, including laptops, digital cameras, digital camcorders and tripods.
"The most important part of the place is that we offer support," he told the group. "So we help the students, whether they don't know anything, from the first point to the last point of their projects, and make sure they learn it so they do it themselves next time."
Purdue assistant professor of library science Jennifer Sharkey, a technology training specialist, explained to the delegates that the mission of the DLC "is to merge information literacy and technology literacy into the university curriculum."
The center was created by Purdue Libraries and Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP) to provide students with integrated instruction and multimedia development resources in a wireless instructional area.
"I was really impressed that in university there is a lot of importance actually devoted to library," Tatyana Birenbaum, deputy director for computerization at Voronezh State University Scientific Library, said through Kondratiev.
Birenbaum said she also was impressed by the emphasis Purdue Libraries place on student learning, and by the commitment of Purdue librarians to helping students identify the resources they need for their projects.
Likes the variety
Natalya Dianova, head of the Computerization Department at Samara State Aerospace University's Scientific Technical Library, said she planned to share what she learned from her visit to Purdue with her colleagues and students.
"Unfortunately, there is no such variety back home for the equipment and wide variety of services we provide," she said through Kondratiev. "That's why I think that my visit here will help me to understand, realize and maybe even promote some services in the future."
Anna Britayeva, a reference librarian at the American Center in Moscow, said she plans to share what she has learned from her trip with other Moscow librarians.
"I am amazed by everything," she said, citing the equipment, services and human resources at U.S. libraries. "I think that it is great that here in the United States, people pay so much attention to the libraries, because libraries are cultural centers, and many people depend on libraries. So I think if you want your nation to become more educated, more cultured, you should build more and more libraries."
Britayeva said increased realization in Russia of the importance of libraries is beginning to translate to better funding for facilities that historically have received inadequate financial support.
Find out more
Open World has hosted more than 6,000 Russian visitors in the United States since 1999; more than 40 percent of the delegates have been women. Participants come from all of the Russian Federation's 89 political regions and represent at least 55 ethnic groups. The 2002 program had 2,525 participants to the United States on programs concerning eight themes: economic development, education reform, environment, federalism, health, rule of law, women as leaders and youth issues.
Reprinted with permission by www.jconline.com
[Reprinted with Permission]