The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 30, 2009

Database lets you become a Global Road Warrior


The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay began on Oct. 22 in Olympia, Greece, with a lighting ceremony. After a journey across Greece and the Atlantic Ocean, the torch landed in Victoria, British Columbia, and on Friday began its 45,000-kilometer (27,962-mile) journey across Canada.

If I was lucky enough to be able to accompany the torch, I might need some travel information on both Greece and Canada. Global Road Warrior can answer just about any question I might have on Greece, Canada or 173 other countries and territories around the world.

To prepare for my imaginary trip, I accessed this database from home with my library card and computer. I went to www.joplinpubliclibrary.org, moused over the “Reference” tab at the top and chose “Business.” From there I scrolled down to “Global Road Warrior” and clicked the picture of the house right by it.

I entered in my library card number at the bottom of the page. On the next page, I chose Greece from the drop-down menu on “Select a Country.”

On the left side of the screen is a list of categories containing all kinds of information on the demographics, government, culture and society of Greece.

Since I need to pack, I determined what clothes were needed by clicking on “Climate.” I saw for October we could expect 50- to 70-degree temperatures with 65 percent humidity. Under “Money and Banking,” I found that the currency in Greece is the euro; I also found images of the bank notes and the coinage.

The “Travel Essentials” category addressed visa and passport (I’d need a passport and a short-stay visa, plus a return ticket), immunizations needed (yellow fever), tipping (not expected but rounded up is appreciated) and emergency numbers.

Because I’d travel cross country with the torch, I checked out the “Transportation” category on how I’d move about the country. The “Communications” and “Technical/Internet” categories gave me information on telephone and Internet access. I also looked under the “Electrical” link to find out what adapter I may need for a hair dryer.

Under the “Businesswoman” category I found that I should travel with a companion, or face some form of verbal harassment — plenty of the more than 10,000,000 men and women in Greece consider a lone female traveler fair game.

I would probably need to communicate in Greek sometime during our travels, so the “Essential Terms” category is, well, essential. We can find “good morning” (kalimera), “please” (parakalo), “thank you” (efcharisto), hotel (xenodhokheion) and many other words and phrases that would be useful.

Once I’ve said “chérete” (goodbye) to Greece and made my way with the torch to Canada, I would need to consult a map. The relay starts in Victoria and ends in Vancouver, which is only 69 kilometers away. So I need a map to figure out how to stretch that journey to 45,000 kilometers.

Global Road Warrior has several maps for each country, including political, population, physical and outline maps. Use the “Zoomify” feature to enlarge and navigate around the maps. You can also download and print the maps as PDF files.

I checked out the “Points of Interest” category because I would tour much of the country with the torch. Places include cultural and historic sites, museums, architectural wonders, parks, zoos and natural sites. The Photo Gallery gave a preview of some of the sites I would visit.

Since I’d spend 106 days traveling with the torch, I checked out the “Society and Culture” category to see what we may be eating and how Canadians feel about punctuality, religions, holidays and festivals — I could watch hockey and lacrosse.

I also looked at “Superstitions and Folklore” because I don’t want to commit a faux pas (French is one of the official languages of Canada). For instance, you wouldn’t want to shoo a black cat away at a wedding — that’s considered good luck.

On the same note of not offending our hosts, I looked at “Stereotypes,” both what foreigners think and what Canadians accept about themselves and their county. For example, even though the world may think lumberjacks and outdoorsmen comprise the population, the reality is that modern Canada is a high-tech service economy.

There is much more to explore in the Global Road Warrior database on both these countries and many others. Even though I probably won’t get to travel with the Olympic torch, I might go to some exotic locale or need country information for a homework assignment.

Patty Crane is the reference librarian at Joplin Public Library.