Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy, 2-27-07

With colleagues from the Ongkharak Library, Louie and I visited the beautiful campus of the 100 year-old Chulachomklao Royal Military Academy. It's the Thai equivalent of West Point, and it looks like a cross between West Point and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. It trains Army officers in a 4-5 year bachelors degree program. About 2 hours outside Bangkok, it on a beautifully landscaped open plain next to mountains. There are all kinds of recreational activities and spaces available to the public as well.

We had a pleasant hour touring their library and then another half hour at their military museum. This was another initiative of the famous King Chulalonghorn, who began so many westernizations in Thailand, especially in education. One of the photos is of a replica of the first inscription of the Thai language millenia ago. Interesting.

SWU's Ongkharak Campus Library 2-26-07

I spent the day with colleagues at the Ongkharak Library of SWU (about 90 minutes outside Bangkok), starting with a tour of their fabulous garden. It was started by their custodian 10 years ago when the library was new and had no landscaping at all. It's unbelieveable - part forest, orchard, and tropical paradise. BTW, the gardener covers at circulation when the staff all have to be away!

The day was followed by dinner at a local open-air, roadside restaurant famous for salt-encrusted, grilled fish. Everything was yummy!
Happy to say, Louis has joined me here, and he's loving all of this, too.

Thailand Knowledge (TK) Park 2-24-07

This afternoon we visited the Thailand Knowledge Park (TK Park), a glitzy, upscale "public" library in a vertical shopping mall. The idea apparently came from Singapore.

It's lively, colorful, engaging. Users must pay 20 Baht/day (about 60 cents) to enter and 20 Baht to use the Internet for 1 hour. An annual pass is available for 100 Baht (about $3). Nevertheless, it made me queasy, because the National Library is obviously underfunded, and the rural areas who have libraries at all are underserved. Anyway, you can see for yourself.

National Museum, 2-24-07

Fine visit to the National Museum this morning, but my camera was acting up, and lots of rooms do not allow photos, but here are a few to give you a flavor. There are percussion instruments, a throne chair, Pimol, and a gorgeous shelter from a palace or temple.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

KKU Library

Khon Kaen University is about 40 years old and was established to conduct research, as well as teaching. It reminds me of Virginia Tech and Penn State, with agriculture, science, and technology getting top billing here. One difference from VT and PSU is that KKU has an important medical school.
The library here is lively, bright, inviting. The new cafe is full-service and near the front entrance, as is Circulation (including self-check-out), and computer labs. They are renovating one floor at the time, AND constructing a bridge to the adjacent building where the computing center is. Just what we'd love to do at Denison.

The bulletin board near the front door was polling users in honor of Valentines Day to find out what love means to them. The answers are posted on the board. Everyone has had lots of fun with it.

Workshop Wed., Feb. 21

As always, the group work and their presentations were the best part of the two days. Participants enjoy it, and we all learn so much. You'll see the closing ceremony where each participant received an impressive certificate.
Having only two days for this workshop made it more challenging for the groups to have enough time together, so I will modify some lectures for the final workshop in southern Thailand.

After a tour of the campus and medical library, my hosts and I had dinner at a pretty, new restaurant near the airport (there was Mexican food on the menu, but I had a terrific fruit salad!) and a big send-off at the airport.
My visit to Khon Kaen University has been another inspiring and learning experience for me, and I hope for the participants.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Two Temples in Khon Kaen 2-20-07

After work today my colleagues took me to see two impressive temples in K.K. The first is 9 storeys tall. We climbed to the top for a view of the city and its pretty lake and residential districts. The stairs are steep, but I made it (with a few photo stops along the way). It was worth it. Sunset is the perfect time to visit here.

The second wat is relatively new (maybe 10 years or so). Built in a traditional NE Thai style, with Laotian influences, it is very peaceful, quiet, and beautiful in its garden setting.

Dinner was excellent Vietnamese and Thai food with Library Director, Dr. Smarn Loipha, his wife (a former Dean of Education and VP at KKU), Dr. Yupin Techamanee (a professor of Library Science and my crack interpreter), and her friend, a Nursing faculty member.

Khon Kaen Workshop 2-20-07

Once again, the workshop started off well. More than 50 participants, overflowing into the hall, where they watch by monitor. We only have 2 days in this workshop, so I've cut my lectures some and they will have less time for group work (the best part, I think). Oh well.

A fine group of colleagues.