Today’s postcard comes to us from Leon Djogbenou, a librarian working for the Library
of French Institute in Cotonou, Benin (West Africa). We hope you will enjoy his journey to expand his professional development activities!
As librarian from a French speaking country, not having a good command of English language has been for me, for quite a long time, a barrier to have access to some professional opportunities. To overcome this obstacle, I decided to leave temporary my workplace and go to an English speaking country for a linguistic immersion programme. I took up an offer at the University of Ilorin in Nigeria where, hitting two targets with one shot, I used this opportunity to improve my English and also get new professional experiences with the University Library staff and Nigerian Library Association, Kwara State chapter.
Since I was learning English for professional purposes, the University library appeared to be the ideal place I could develop my vocabulary related to library work. I got the chance to meet a very nice and dedicated staff in the library. The academic library was a new setting for me (I am use to working in a public library). But three major experiences are unforgettable for me. Doing bilingual cataloguing, coming across the Library of Congress Classification System and experiencing 24/7 opening of a library.
Cataloguing books in both English and French languages has been a tremendous work. Indeed, in the University library, a large number of items in French language are acquired for patrons that are learning that language. The library’s cataloguing staff found my arrival as a good opportunity to process the books newly acquired. It has been an exciting job! So was it too with the Library of Congress Classification that is being used in the library. Of course, I heard about this type of classification during my studies; but I never happened to use it; Dewey Decimal Classification is what I am used to rather. I have to confess that I was disconcerted with so many volumes that one has to deal with comparing to the only one volume of Dewey Classification. And then my curiosity with the library that remained open 24/7 during the exam periods.
During my stay in Ilorin, I got to attend Kwara State chapter of Nigerian Library Association for their annual convention. The theme developed by the guest speaker upon a professional association membership is full of meaning for me. The presentations I attended and the discussions I had with some other participants were professionally beneficial.
Admittedly the study leave has cost me one year’s salary; but it has been a priceless professional development opportunity to know a bit of Nigeria, to achieve my goal of improving in English and make professional connections.