Baltic, Books and Solidarity: Gdańsk University of Technology (GUT) International Staff Week

Gdańsk University of Technology

I was delighted to be able to participate in the 4th International Staff Week at the Biblioteki Politechniki Gdańskiej recently. I work as the Senior Photographer for Edinburgh University’s Library and University Collections, so when I saw that the programme included a visit to the Pomeranian Digital Library it looked like a great opportunity. Additionally, this was the home institution of one of the delegates on our own Knowledge Exchange Week in 2018, allowing further development of previous Erasmus links.

Magdalena Stankevič explaining the colour coding of subject areas
QR codes for journals in the Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics Library
Reading Room at the Gdańsk Library. Photo by Urszula Szybowska.
Kamila Kokot showing us the treasures of the Special Collections. Photo by Tytus Caban.
More treasures from the Special Collections
Tytus Caban outlining the digitisation process to the Staff Week delegates at the Pomeranian Digital Library. Photo by Mirek Opolski.

We visited 5 Libraries during the week, each with interesting ideas to take away, a rich history to explore or beautiful treasures to see. At the GUT Nanotechnology Regional Library, Senior Librarian Magdalena Stankevič explained how she had colour coded all the books to help signpost different subject areas for the students- almost like the different lines on the London Underground map. While at the branch library for the Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics, Senior Librarian Anna Kowalska showed us how QR codes are displayed alongside the journals so students can quickly find a digital copy. We also visited the beautiful Gdańsk Library with its stunning Reading Room and the new European Solidarity Centre Library, which celebrates the Solidarity movement that started in Gdańsk. However, for me the highlight was a behind the scenes tour of Biblioteki Politechniki Gdańskiej Special Collections to see some of the treasures they hold and how the digitisation team at the Pomeranian Digital Library are making these wonderful collections more accessible, see

There were many presentations throughout the week on a variety of topics from Open Access to Teaching Information Skills to Foreign Students. I found the presentation on Citizen Science particularly engaging. Szymon Andrzejewski gave an interesting history of how crowd-sourcing science developed- who knew that Napoleon Bonaparte solved the problem of supplying food to the troops by offering a 12,000 FRK reward contest for the best food preservation, leading to the tinned food we know today?

And of course, we had some fantastic cultural excursions in the programme too. I have a new favourite museum- the European Solidarity Centre was one of the most moving and imaginative museums I have been too, each room had innovative and well thought out displays, all set in a stunning new building. I had arrived at the start of the celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of the elections that took place in 1989 as a result of the Solidarity movement so there was lots going on all over the city.

The European Solidarity Centre
The iconic gate to the shipyard where the Solidarity movement started.
Neptune’s Fountain in the Old Town

Our GUT hosts took us on a fascinating walk around the Old Town of Gdańsk, telling us funny stories from the City’s long history as well as the traumatic recent past. The first shots of the WWII were fired on the outskirts of Gdańsk at Westerplatte and by the end of the War nearly 90% of the city had been destroyed. The phenomenal reconstruction of the Old Town is a testament to the resilience and determination of the Polish people.

The weather during the week was very hot, so we were all pleased to be able to paddle our feet in the Baltic one evening when we made a trip to out to the seaside for a meal together. I can confirm that the Baltic is Baltic! The meal was a wonderful way to celebrate new friendships made and new knowledge gained. Many thanks to the Staff Week organiser Urszula Szybowska and all the GUT team for an excellent week.

Susan Pettigrew, Senior Photographer, Digital Imaging Unit

Cooling down in the Baltic!




  1. Paloma Sánchez Melero said:

    Hi, Susan, nice to read from you!!!. Good post, and I agree it has been a great international staff week. Your words made me smile, thank you!!!. See you soon!!!


    June 19, 2019
    • diu said:

      Thanks Paloma- hope we can keep in touch!

      June 20, 2019
  2. Urszula Szybowska said:

    Hello, Susan, it is so interesting to read about the event and realize what a wonderful team of librarians I am lucky to cowork on a daily basis Erasmus Staff Weeks are always a challenge, but they are also a reward – the people you meet and their life stories – the professional and the private ones – are so fascinating and enriching. The name of the great young person who prepared the historical tour across the GUT main building is Magda Jaszcza and the librarian who organised the walk through the Old Town is Joanna Dołęga. We are all happy to have organised Erasmus STW and meet you and other librarians. Scotland, Spain, Turkey, Poland – where else can you meet so many representatives of different countries. See you soon at… Erasmus Urszula Szybowska

    June 20, 2019
  3. susan pettigrew said:

    Thanks Urszula- I certainly hope we can meet on a future Erasmus!

    June 21, 2019

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