Thursday, June 4, 2009

Our Gal in Kingston

I arrived Sunday in Kingston, Jamaica to attend the Caribbean Studies Association meeting. While I looked forward to the panels, I also came to conduct the Advisory Board meeting of the Digital Library of the Caribbean. 3 of the board were present and 2 of them and I organized a dLOC panel. I gave a general overview about dLOC activities and future developments (keep your fingers crossed while I wait to hear the outcome of the new TICFIA awards for which we submitted a proposal) while the other 2 explored dLOC's potential with regard to digital pedagogy.

My room is in the courtyard wings around the pool area and mine is called Ackee Court. My room isn't on the side overlooking the pool. Instead I have a balcony looking out on the hotel back parking lot! I can't complain too much. Between the hotel building, lawn and carpark, there's a tree growing tall that diminishes the view of cars. I'm guessing it's a breadfruit tree by the large, smooth green round fruits hanging from it. If Don were here, he'd simply find a branch with one of the fruits to swing over to the balcony to pick off and examine. I am not quite as adventurous.

If Don were here, they would probably have to cut him off from the free coffee stand one of the Jamaican coffee companies is providing to CSA attendees. I can hear it now with that lilting Jamaican diction, "Mr. Perry, we said you could have one coffee every 2 hours. We have to let the others have some, too."

Our panel went well. It was in a small meeting room but we had a full house. There were many questions about copyright issues and what we expect to add to dLOC in the future. A real treat was seeing a librarian from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine who came for my panel. Claudia de Four is the head of Technical Services there, and enjoying a sabbatical year working on an annotated discography of Lord Kitchener. I haven't seen her since I was at UWI-T&T in 2001 to do the Libraries' training as a new member of the Latin Americanist Research Resources Project. Claudia was incredibly kind as part of the group entertaining me at lunch and showing me the local sights around campus. There're a couple of other of her colleagues I get to see at SALALM so it was a pleasant surprise to see her name on one of the other panels. That panel took place today and was an informative discussion of the challenges of collecting music resources in Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, and Barbados (whose music is less known in comparison) plus the repatriation efforts of field recordings to their respective Caribbean locales by the Alan Lomax Archive/Association for Cultural Equity. A further surprise on the panel was Bertram Lyons of the afore-mentioned project. It was nice to meet him since we're on a panel in August at the Society of American Archivists in Austin.

I've done a split between attending CSA panels and meetings arranged by Leah Rosenberg of UF, one of dLOC's Advisory Board members. Tuesday morning we were at the UWI--Mona campus where we met John Aarons, campus archivist, and Swarna Bandara, director of the Medical Library. John discussed the potential for several important Jamaican journals that scholars would like to see on the web as well as the Jamaican Historical Review since he's active in the Jamaican Historical Society. He gave us some contacts to reach with regard to figuring out copyright issues and the logistics of finding issues to scan. Mrs. Bandara gave us a great description of her role in leading all 3 UWI campuses in setting up open access space for faculty publications and electronic theses and dissertations. I was interested in learning it but Leah and I were also there to see if she would be friendly to the idea of digitizing the early portion of the Caribbean Review of Books for which her late husband was the founding editor. She said yes, and off we went back to CSA Land.

The UWI-Mona campus is lovely, and the grounds were once a sugar plantation. Tuesday evening we were all among the ruins at the UWI Visitors' Lodge for a welcome reception and musical performances. Part of the ruins also served as the stage. The highlight of it was an interpretive dance (complete with audio soundbites of the action) to commemorate Jamaica's gold medals from last year's summer Olympics.

Wednesday morning was down to the National Library of Jamaica to meet with director Winsome Hudson. NLJ is already a dLOC member but we wanted to discuss their activities and potential journals to add. She also provided some excellent contacts for further dLOC activities with regard to K-12 activities that we might bring to the Jamaican educational scene. After some afternoon panels I was content to get a sandwich from the coffee bar in the hotel lobby (they claim to be open 24 hours a day but I didn't try testing at 4am to see who was there) and then watch TV in my room which includes the Miami stations, 2 local Jamaican stations, 2 Canadian stations, an East Indian station (I could start getting hooked on one soap opera they have subtitled in English), and the chance to see 'Kung Fu Panda' on HBO (no thanks).

So, another meeting this morning with the director from UWI's Center for Caribbean Thought. They're very interested but will probably need time to assess what of their archival collections they might want to contribute. After the Caribbean music panel described earlier, and a tasty lunch at the swimming pool bar, I played hooky for a bit to go to the National Gallery of Art. Since I've indexed Jamaica Journal for many years in HAPI, I've seen reproductions of the gallery's collections. It was nice to see them in the flesh for the first time.

Well, there is another panel I'd like to make and then another cocktail reception at 6pm for the CSA Book Launch so time to stop here.

1 comment:

  1. At the last reception for faculty, someone brought and it relates to your site.