Friday, August 30, 2013

#561 Saint Petersburg libraries

Librarians make the best guides!
Julie, Kelly, and I step off the ship in Saint Petersburg and are warmly greeted by Julia, a Russian business librarian.  Julia has a couple of master's degrees under her belt and is working on her PhD. And today, she is kind enough to spend her time showing us around the historic center of Saint Petersburg, a UNESCO world heritage site. She could not have been more welcoming.

Our first stop (and location of the above photo) is the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library. Gleaming and full of high-tech equipment, the grand building sits in a prime spot just off the Neva river across the street from Peter the Great's bronze horseman.

We tour the city's largest Russian Orthodox church Saint Isaac's Cathedral on our way to the Saint Petersburg State University's Graduate School of Management, where we enjoy a cup of tea, exchange gifts, and meet other GSOM librarians.  We end our day at Julia's favorite Chinese restaurant, Two Chopsticks.  Spasibo, Julia!

We say goodbye to our new Russian friend during our walk back to the MV Explorer where we discover that Captain Jeremy (celebrating his birthday) has left the lights on for us.

Yours in recommending local librarians when you travel,

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

#560 Fall 2013 sets sail

The Semester at Sea fall 2013 voyage sailed on Saturday from Southampton! Huzzah!

Our plan is to sail around the Atlantic for 115 delightful days with 573 superb students, 15 lovely Lifelong Learners, 40 first-rate faculty, 31 stupendous staff, 36 fun family members, and 182 courageous crew. 

Our student population is 25% male, 75% female and represents 247 institutions, 48 states, and 18 countries.

Our librarian population is 100% female and represents 2 institutions in 2 states.  Julie and I are an excellent match. 

Everyone on board is thrilled to be docking tomorrow in our first port of Saint Petersburg - especially Julie and me.  Together with Kelly, we will extend the hand of librarian friendship to a Saint Petersburg University librarian, visit a couple of libraries, and have dinner together.  Spasibo to Karen for her international connections!

Yours in beginning the bon-niest of voyages,

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

#559 Sailing on two ships

There are so many things to love about the Queen Mary 2!  (See Queen Mary 2 photos around the world.)
We enjoy:
  • the interviews with the shipboard librarian and IT lab manager. 
  • the lectures, especially by maritime historian Bill Miller and Canadian author Margaret Atwood.  
  • the theater, especially by the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. 
  • the evening entertainment, especially the Apassionata dance performance.
  • the planetarium shows.
  • the fabulous food, the Afternoon Tea, and the galley tour.
  • the Cunard-crested bedroom slippers that I'm now wearing on the MV Explorer.
  • the ability to circumnavigate the ship all on one outside deck.
 Our cabin with balcony is ideal for the two of us. 

After a week crossing the Atlantic, we dock in Southampton on August 22, watch the MV Explorer dock right behind us minutes later, then move our bags from one ship to the other. 

There are so many things to love about the MV Explorer!  (See MV Explorer photos around the world.)

In addition to all the other good reasons you've heard us talk about for years, we now appreciate these MV Explorer features:
  • the cost of a photo with the captain (free vs $27.50)   
  • free e-mail for all.  
  • the cost of a bag of laundry ($6 vs $40).  
  • the opportunity to visit the bridge, sit in the captain’s chair, and wear the captain’s hat.
  • the opportunity to have breakfast with a couple of astronauts.
  • small enough to sail under Denmark's Great Belt East Bridge.

Yours in loving two ships, but maybe one a little bit more,

Monday, August 19, 2013

#558 Arriving in Brooklyn

In a week we’ll join the Fall 2013 voyage of Semester At Sea in Southampton, England, but for us the trip starts in a borough of New York.  Our ride to Europe, the Queen Mary 2, is alongside at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal.  

Fortunately, the world’s best Brooklyn guide is our friend Allison who lives, works, and writes here.  We admire Allison’s knack for carving out a niche where she is rewarded for research and writing about her interests.  And she can pick a great place for dinner! 

Be assured, Allison’s neighborhood library will not be our last library visit over the next four months. 

Yours in jumping aboard in Brooklyn,

Monday, August 12, 2013

#557 Staying in Touch

Staying in touch can be tough on the MV Explorer. So many e-mail accounts, so many devices, so little time.
FIVE devices:  Between the two of us, we're taking three laptops, one iPhone, and one iPad.

SEVEN e-mail accounts: And between us, we're checking seven e-mail accounts - yes, seven!  That includes two UVA e-mail accounts, one shared personal account, and two shipboard accounts for each of us.
Seven accounts on five devices leads to a long discussion of forwarding accounts, IMAP vs POP, the 'recent:' tag for multiple users accessing one Google mail account, Thunderbird vs Outlook, passwords, and all kinds of things you just normally take for granted when you're at home.  

The good news is we've gained a good bit of experience that will come in handy when helping to set up email accounts with multiple clients on multiple platforms for 600 shipmates.

And at this point, it's all good news.

Yours in email heaven,

Friday, August 09, 2013

#556 Queen Mary 2 vs MV Explorer

As we prepare to sail on the Queen Mary 2, we can't help but compare it with the ship we know best, the MV Explorer.
We have determined earlier, through extensive research, that the MV Explorer is home to the world's largest floating library.  Now we see that the QM2 is about twice as long and twice as tall as the MV Explorer giving it room enough to house 15 restaurants and bars, 5 pools, a casino, a ballroom, a theater, a planetarium, and kennels.

5 pools?  Think of the synchronized swimming competitions!

Casino? I read somewhere that shipboard casinos are being transformed into libraries.

Kennels?  Every SAS voyage librarian, it seems, was forced to leave their favorite pet at home.  If only the MV Explorer had kennels...

Top speed of 28 knots?  Captain Jeremy told us during Spring 2011 that the MV Explorer's top speed was 30.2 knots in Fall 2007 when entering the Red Sea.   

I'm guessing we may find other differences between these two ships.  What can we find out for you?  Watch this blog for future updates.
Explorer photo from

Queen Mary 2 photo from

Yours in comparing ocean liners to passenger ships,

Monday, August 05, 2013

#555 Shipboard libraries and librarians

Shipboard library in the 1942 film Now Voyager starring Bette Davis 

On the verge of another great nautical library adventure, I'm curious about other shipboard libraries and librarians.

What do these other ship's libraries look like?  How are they staffed?
Ships and books are a perfect combination - they both can carry us to a new place.  So, it's wonderful to find so many ships creating a beautiful library space. Here are some of my favorites:
And these blogging librarians who staff cruise ship libraries sound like they can handle anything: 
So, are you interested in working as a librarian on a cruise ship? 
After reviewing all options, I recommend working as a librarian on the MV Explorer!
Yours in enjoying nautical librarianship,