August 08, 2012

Gute Reise, Dana!

Dana, our Administrative Assistant here at Neill, is leaving soon.  What will we do without her?  Dana's husband has accepted a fabulous opportunity to teach at the prestigious University of Zurich in Switzerland.  How could we be anything but ecstatic about this wonderful opportunity? 
Dana Ellis, Administrative Assistant
Dana is our Jack of All Trades.  MacGyver to leaky pipes, liaison with City Maintenance, note taker extraordinaire, Dana is not just AA to the library, but she is an Assistant to each staff member and to each department here at Neill.  Dana does our time-slips so we all can get paid.  She process all our orders so that new materials reach the library.  She's behind the camera at every library event.  The tasks she does are even invisible to many of us: mail, banking, signs, printing, the things that make the library work smoothly and seamlessly, that will soon be glaringly missing.  Other staff will try to fill the gap, and the work will get done, but not with the grace and ease with which Dana completes it.

Dana, with Carrie, get crazy
in costume for National Library Week.

Zurich, Dana's home-to-be, is the largest city in Switzerland (although the capital is Bern).  Several languages are spoken around the country, which is bordered by Italy, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany, and France, with German being the primary language.  (Can you tell I borrowed the encyclopedia?)  Zurich is in the very north of Switzerland and German is the primary written language of signs, publications, and the government, and a dialect, Zurich German, is the primary spoken language.  Apparently, Zurich German has six sub-dialects, divided geographically around the city.  Sub-dialects are very similar to each other and come down to a difference in pronunciation and inclusion of certain local words.  How can a city be big enough to have the equivalent of 6 distinct accents?  Good thing Dana is so great with languages! 

Zurich has an amazing history so long and varied that it seems difficult to imagine.  There is a quote, attributed to Earle Hitchner that comes to mind; it is appropriate to substitute "Europe" for "England," I think: "The difference between America and England is that Americans think 100 years is a long time, while the English think 100 miles is a long way."  I thought of this while reading about the history of Zurich: settled by Celtic people well before the Romans, then conquered by said Romans in 58 B.C.E., Zurich has been held by many different hands through their first 1,000 years of history.  Its citizens accepted a constitution in 1336 and by 1400, the organized guilds were so powerful that they helped the city purchase its freedom from its current emperor.  With so long to perfect their culture, no wonder Switzerland-- and Zurich-- has such amazing universities, museums, and cultural institutions.

Dana, with Jodi and Rezina from Circulation.
Perhaps best of all, living in Zurich will bring Dana & Co. within striking distance of her home country of Slovakia!  Just Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany, Austria, and Slovakia, you're there!  Listing a journey of 5 countries makes it seem like a very long way, but it's the matter of perspective discussed earlier: from Zurich to the Slovakian border is shorter than a trip from here to Medford, Oregon.

So, I guess the point I've been working toward is: Dana is totally amazing, Zurich sounds pretty amazing, so they'll be pretty amazingly amazing together.  But, man, will we miss you, Dana.  Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to helping us all make Neill the best possible library for our patrons.  Thank you for helping to make it the best place to work for us.  We wish you a busy, interesting, exciting time in Zurich and wherever your travels take you after that.  You'll always have a home at NPL!

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