I’ve just returned from one of the best days yet of our short time in Seoul. It’s Tuesday evening, 9:30pm and tonight was the big welcome dinner for all of us Simmons folks. But I can’t start there, I need to go back to Monday first.
Monday was the first day of class for all five of the students and Kevin as the professor. Andrea and some of the other students will blog about their in class experience so I’ll leave that to them. I spent the day getting settled into the library science office where I have a desk and computer and multiple Yonsei grad students who are constantly available to help me. I feel rather like visiting royalty. There were many things to be ironed out and technology to deal with. I got an international cell phone set up through the campus international cell phone office. I’m so grateful such an office exists for folks like myself.
Much of my work day was (and will be) spent emailing to the GSLIS office about our goings on and talking with Kevin and the students about how class was going. There was initial concern about how much the Yonsei students were comprehending but by the afternoon session it was clear they were going to be just fine. The Simmons students are being wonderfully helpful to the Koreans and vice versa. The Americans are offering assistance with understanding the readings while the Koreans are helping us understand the country and find more great places to eat. We’re also hoping for some night life this weekend.
The students from both countries had a lot of work to do after class so the evening was a quiet one.
Today they had class in the morning and then we got a tour of the Yonesi University Library. There are two libraries on campus, the Central Library which is currently being renovated to reopen next year and the new library which was built in 2009. The new library is amazing. It is incredible. It is everything I think a library should be and more. It was funded by Samsung so it has some crazy cutting edge technology going on. There are at least 10 interactive touchscreens that display everything from the map of the campus and library to over 1000 newspapers from 27 countries in 42 languages. It is a beautiful building in many ways as well as being usefully and logically set up. The librarians had a huge hand in the design of it down to adding shelves that slide out from under the main stacks so you can rest your heavy books while browsing. All the furniture and shelving was specifically designed for the library and prototypes were displayed before the final building was done so students could vote on what the furniture would be like.
There are study rooms, class rooms, a theater, a film/sound/photography studio, and a rooftop garden/cafe/open space. There are “intelligent tables” where students can play games, do interactive work, and watch movies. There is a digital koi pond where when you touch the fish they swim away and butterflies flap and fly. There is a variety of green space inside complete with crickets chirping. The entire library collection has RFID tags (radio-frequency identification) including DVD’s so that the collection can be continuously checked to see what is in and what is circulating. It is the first library in Korea to have this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio-frequency_identification#Libraries
You can explore the library through their virtual tour and learn more here: http://library.yonsei.ac.kr/main/main.do?sLang=en
I have a bunch of pictures that you can check out here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/65914161@N03/sets/
I’d apologize for all the geeking out about the library but I’m not actually sorry.
This evening we had an incredible dinner with faculty from Yonsei and Simmons as well as graduate students from Yonsei and all of the visiting Simmons graduate students. It was great fun and great food. That about wraps it up for tonight but stay tuned for more on Thursday after we have our first class in the Library classroom and visit the National Library of Korea.