School of Library and Information Science Hosts Visiting Scholar from University of Barcelona

25 Oct

By Megan Grdina

Cristobal Urbano has always been fascinated with books and how they can change one’s perspective on life. Now, he is interested in how libraries should manage ebook collections.

“I remember when I was 12, in the back of the classroom there were many books,” he said. “I think the book is an object that attracts many people.”

Urbano is a visiting scholar from Barcelona, Spain. He teaches at the University of Barcelona where his expertise is library and information science (“information and documentation” as it is called in Spain), with particular interest in information sources and services. He is also an active researcher.

Urbano is observing four classes and doing research at Kent State this fall. These courses include: Digital Libraries, Selection of Library Materials, Research Methods and Metadata Architecture and Implementation. He finds all of them interesting but is drawn to metadata architecture because the class is face-to-face.

“Kent State has a strong faculty, if you link that strength with their research in digital libraries and the building of digital collections,” Urbano said. “I have to take advantage of the materials they teach and research.”

He is focused on what collaborations and connections he can make at Kent State to support his research in building library collaboration and consortia in El Salvador. He has been talking to faculty at Kent State, as well as faculty in Latin America, so his research in e-collections, metric studies and the use of information will be enhanced.

“It is important to look at the big picture,” Urbano said. “I want to know the feeling librarians have here about the evolution of ebooks in library collections.” He hopes to conduct a survey in Ohio, as well as in Barcelona, to compare these feelings.

Urbano is living with SLIS/IAKM Professor Tom Froehlich, Ph.D., during his stay in America. Froehlich is assisting Urbano during this experience at Kent State.

“I’ve known Cristobal since 2005, when I was invited on my sabbatical to teach at the University of Barcelona,” Froehlich said.

The University of Barcelona is beginning to teach courses in English to enhance its curriculum and to make its courses available to a broader audience in different countries, including the United States. This is one reason why Urbano wanted to come to the United States.

“Cristobal wants to improve his English, do research in digital libraries and meet with faculty,” Froehlich said.

It is always interesting to learn about other cultures and integrate them, according to Urbano. Urbano said there are plenty of differences between Kent and Barcelona. One difference is student life. Students live in dormitories here, but there is no such thing as living on campus at the University of Barcelona.

“It is very different, but the most outstanding difference is that Kent State is one university with a large green environment,” Urbano said. “We do not have a campus; we just have different buildings around the city.”

Urbano knows he’ll gain knowledge during this research semester and enjoys this life-changing experience.

“As a School of Library and Information Science professor, you have to have a broad culture, and I think to know what is happening here in this country is important,” Urbano said. “This experience will help me to become more fluent in English and to have a better understanding of the United States market for ebooks.”

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