Guest post: Mobility for young Swiss librarians in European libraries and archives

Today’s guest post comes from Britta Biederman, Head Librarian at the Institute of Sociology Library, University of Zurich. Britta is the manager of a program that sends students from vocational library training programs to libraries and archives around Europe for internships. Britta met with ILN Director Alyson Dalby in Copenhagen in 2016 to talk about a shared passion in international librarianship, and wrote this piece for us about the program she runs.

The Swiss Education Delegation Information and Documentation participate indirectly at the Leonardo da Vinci European vocational training programme.  The mobility programme is open to holders of a Federal VET Diploma in information and documentation (Fachfrau/mann Information und Dokumentation EFZ). Interns benefit from financial support towards their expenses, as well as a flat-rate travel allowance. The Swiss Education Delegation I&D have a lasting interest in job-related continuing education and training. It is in their interest to offer a good start into the Swiss labour market and to keep the young librarian in the profession.

Since August 2016 two young professionals have been at Oxford University. Olivia and Karin both 18 years old, tell about their first month in Oxford:

Karin and Olivia. Photo supplied by Britta Biederman

Karin and Olivia. Photo supplied by Britta Biederman

Olivia: “During this first month I have already had the chance to work independently. I edited reading lists in the reference manager Mendeley, ordered books from Amazon and I even provided two short library tours for the new PGCE students. For me, it is really interesting to see how different or similar the various tasks are compared to my library in Switzerland. I also appreciated the opportunity to meet with the Bodleian Libraries trainees at some training events. This placement is the perfect chance to combine working abroad and exploring a new place.” You can read more about Olivia’s experience on her blog:

Karin: “I think the chance to work abroad is a great opportunity with a lot of benefits. Besides improving our English we see how libraries in another country work and can compare this with our experience from Switzerland”.

Cultural knowledge and professional skills will increase and once the intern returns to Switzerland, and they will have gained valuable work experience with which to start their careers in their professional field. Last year’s participants easily found jobs in Switzerland. Going abroad is also a sign of independence and courage, signifying a highly motivated librarian.

For the institutions like the Education Library or the Sainsbury Library  in Oxford, these young Swiss librarians are an assistance in their daily business.

Chris and Cathy, Library hosts in Oxford, report that “It has been wonderful having Olivia and Karin here to help out as we prepare for the new academic year. They have brought useful skills, experience and above all a willingness to get stuck in to the variety of tasks, from restocking refurbished library reading rooms, through ordering new ebooks or, reclassifying print books, to providing tours and individual assistance to new students.”

Thank you for this post Britta, and for the work you do supporting this program. The students in the program are very lucky!


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