International Library Staff Exchange Week 2014

Posted on June 12, 2014 | in Library & University Collections, Research & Learning Services | by

Last week I was fortunate enough to have been able to participate in Helsinki University Library’s ISEW Library programme which ran from 2-6 June, 2014

The week was aimed at library professionals from Erasmus partner universities and participants came from a wide variety of library backgrounds. We all came from different university libraries across Europe including UK, Ireland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Lithuania, Belgium, Germany, Poland, France, Italy and Spain. All participants had a common interest in benchmarking of practices and networking with colleagues and we were all there to exchange experiences and good practice.


Helsinki University Library is the largest multi-disciplinary library in Finland and is open to everybody to use. Our first day was located at the University’s flagship main library at Kaisa House in the city centre, opened in 2012, this is a really impressive light and open space and well worth a visit if you happen to be in Helsinki. 10401342_10152570256147873_4754864421918727300_nThe program for the week included general information about the Helsinki University Library and incorporated a visit to a different library each day based around a different theme. A series of presentations by the host university formed the basis for each day but there was also opportunity for participants in the exchange week to present to the group. There was lots of opportunity for discussion and each session was highly interactive and allowed for interesting debates. Some of the important topics discussed throughout the week were how the library stays relevant, increased demands on space, changing digital environment, open access, RDM, increasing importance of statistics and information literacy.

It wasn’t all hard work though, there were plenty of social opportunities available in the evening including sampling traditional Finnish food, a visit to the Sauna and an invite to the annual library staff summer party which we were able to enjoy in the sunshine followed by some dancing in the library!

It was an excellent week, superbly organised with a broad range of topics and participants from a wide variety of backgrounds and nationalities. I personally gained a lot throughout the week through sharing experiences with other participants, and hearing how their institutions tackled challenges we face in Edinburgh. I would highly recommend participating in an exchange week if you can. Not only was it insightful to see how other academic libraries work but it was a great opportunity to meet colleagues from a wide variety of backgrounds and to make connections with other universities from across Europe.


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