Did you know if you’re working in an academic library you might be eligible to apply for an Erasmus+ Staff mobility trip which would allow you to go to a participating University library in Europe (and beyond) for training and CPD purposes? I’ve recently returned from a trip to Charles University in Prague where I participated in an exchange of best practice with other librarians. Over one working week my host librarians at the university showed me around several satellite libraries located in Prague and the Central Library where I gave a presentation on my work in Cregan Library in St. Patrick’s College.
Founded in 1348, Charles University was the first in Central Europe and now ranks in the upper 1.5 percent of the world’s best universities. The libraries of the university are ‘decentralised’ – each of its 17 faculties has its own main library as well as department and campus libraries. They have 83,169 users and 214 full-time library employees.
It’s always a good idea to step outside of your own cultural and institutional bubble to see how libraries and info services operate in different contexts. As well as many of the libraries of Charles University, I also visited the National Library of the Czech Republic, the Czech National Library of Technology and the Municipal Library. In each place we were treated to insider information on the history and development of services, and the successes and challenges encountered by library staff. From beautiful installations, architecture and sculptures, and the innovative design of library spaces to the technical and user issues that colleagues have faced, I came away from my trip bursting with ideas, photos, notes and slides, as well as a new international perspective on librarianship.
I highly recommend applying if your institution participates – I found it to be a very worthwhile learning experience and it enabled me to build up some contacts with colleagues in Prague and also in Kraków (there was a group of Polish librarians from the Pedagogical University of Kraków on Erasmus at the same time as me). You can receive some expenses (for travel, accommodation and food) by completing the relevant documentation and providing receipts.
How it works:
- If you work in an academic library apply to the international office in your institution
- Pick your destination from a list of participating institutions
- You will be supplied with an application form – complete it with an eye to international cooperation and collaboration/best practice
- If you are successful you will be expected to make contact with your proposed host institution to arrange the details and itinerary of your visit
- You will usually be given an allowance for expenditure
- Start booking flights and hotels
- Keep all your receipts and travel stubs, as you will need them to claim money back
- Prepare a presentation on your own Library (making sure to include info about yourself)
- Remember to bring something for your host institution (like Irish sweets or publications from your home library)
- Take lots of photos and notes so that you can share info with colleagues when you return
- Don’t forget to swap contact details/connect on LinkedIn with the people you meet
- Enjoy! Take in some of the cultural highlights and local food
- For more information about Erasmus+ see here.