27 Aug 2017

CONUL ANLTC Hosts ERASMUS Library Staff Mobility Week in Dublin

Guest post by Allison Kavanagh, College Librarian of DIT's Aungier Street Library

2017 ERASMUS Library Staff Mobility Week Participants in DCU

18 participants from 10 European countries attended the Dublin ERASMUS Library Staff Mobility Week from 26th to 30th June 2017.

The week’s activities were hosted by seven of the Dublin area CONUL libraries (Dublin City University, Dublin Institute of Technology, Maynooth University, National Library of Ireland, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, University of Dublin, Trinity College, and University College Dublin).

The collaborative programme grew from a desire to reduce individual CONUL institutions’ workloads resulting from hosting dozens of separate visits by European librarians throughout the year, and to contribute to CONUL’s strategic objective to be “the platform for our international presence”.

As a result, CONUL ANLTC decided to pilot a collaborative programme for ERASMUS visitors in the summer of 2017. For logistical reasons the ANLTC agreed to limit the pilot to CONUL libraries in the Dublin area.

I was DIT’s representative on the organising committee, together with Carmel O’Sullivan (UCD, Chair), Elizabeth Kirwan (NLI), Helen Fallon (MU), Jessie Kurtz (TCD), Kathryn Smith (RSI) and Órla Nic Aodha (DCU). Library staff in each of the seven host libraries also helped us to plan and deliver the programme.

The Programme
The programme consisted of presentations by library staff in the organising institutions, presentations by participants and visits to each of the seven participating libraries.

The programme covered six themes:
  • Theme 1: Information and digital literacies
  • Theme 2: Space & storage in libraries
  • Theme 3: Cultural heritage and unique & distinct collections
  • Theme 4: Enabling Research 
  • Theme 5: Customer Service/User Experience (UX)
  • Theme 6: Change and Future Skills 
Promotion and Applications
UCD’s ERASMUS office posted details of the Library Staff Mobility Week on the ERASMUS Staff Training iMOTION website and on an email discussion forum for ERASMUS officers. A message was also posted on the SCONUL email list and the News section of the CONUL website. The Twitter hashtag for the week was #ERASMUSdub17

29 people from 16 countries applied to participate in the ERASMUS Library Staff Mobility Week in Dublin. 24 were successful in their application, 21 accepted places and 18 ultimately attended. The final 18 participants came from the following 10 countries:

Participants by country

Logistics and Communication with Participants
Communication was essential to the organisation of a five-day programme across seven locations. The organising committee held its first planning meeting in February, with two further meetings and hundreds of emails exchanged before the event itself. We also stayed in in touch each day throughout the week itself.

We used a Gmail account (erasmusdub@gmail.com) to communicate with the programme participants in relation to confirming their funding, completing the necessary ERASMUS forms, their presentations, etc. The related Google Drive was helpful for sharing presentations and programme documents with the participants and with staff in each of the host libraries. The amount of communication required probably exceeded our expectations – we received over 3,700 emails to the ERASMUS Gmail account.

In an inspired move, Órla Nic Aodha (DCU) set up a WhatsApp group to allow participants to communicate with each other and with the organising committee prior to and during the programme. This proved hugely popular with participants who have posted hundreds of messages and pictures before, during and after their time in Dublin. In fact, they’re still using the WhatsApp group to keep in touch and to discuss potential collaborative projects.

We provided the participants with information at the end of each day on how to get to the next day’s host institution. Committee members and other library staff escorted the participants from one location to the next where activities took place in multiple locations on the same day.

The ERASMUS Mobility Week
The week’s events began in DIT. Patricia Tutty of HEA’s ERASMUS team, Siobhan Fitzpatrick, Chair of CONUL and Dr. Philip Cohen, Head of DIT Library Services each welcomed the 18 ERASMUS Library Staff Mobility Week participants to Ireland and to DIT.

I had an opportunity to chat with the participants over lunch in the nearby Radisson Blu hotel in Golden Lane and while escorting them from there to the National Library. Apart from being keen to learn more about DIT’s move to the new Grangegorman campus and about our information literacy programme, the participants also found Irish pedestrians’ jaywalking habits fascinating!

The participants spent Monday afternoon in the National Library:

Yeats Exhibition, National Library of Ireland. Courtesy of Maria Svenningsson 

Had a sneak preview of the brand new RCSI library

Tour of new RCSI Library

And finished the day at a reception at the National Library of Ireland.

They spent Tuesday in UCD covering Information and Digital Literacies and Space and Storage in libraries:

UCD Library

They discussed Cultural heritage and Unique & Distinct collections and Enabling Research in Trinity on Wednesday and had a very popular tour of the Old Library:

Tour of Old Library, Trinity College. Courtesy of Maria Svenningsson 

Tour of Old Library, University of Dublin, Trinity College. Courtesy of Maria Svenningsson
On Thursday they visited Maynooth University and covered Customer Service / User Experience

Tour of Russell Library, Maynooth University
and they finished up with Change and future skills in DCU on Friday.

Welcome to DCU Library

Social Events and Sponsorship
There were two social events during the week: a reception in the National Library of Ireland at the end of Day 1 and a dinner in the 1592 restaurant at the University of Dublin, Trinity College on Day 3. The ANLTC sponsored both events. They provided an opportunity for the participants to get to know each other and to meet the organising committee members. DIT’s ERASMUS office covered most of the cost of the lunch in the Radisson Blu hotel on Day 1 and UCD’s ERASMUS office sponsored lunch and refreshments on Day 2 in UCD.

Dinner 1592 Restaurant, Trinity College Dublin

Feedback from Participants
Participants’ feedback in relation to the week was overwhelmingly positive. All participants either ‘Strongly Agreed’ or ‘Agreed’ that everything from the application process to the catering to the programme itself met their expectations.

Would We Do It Again?
The organising committee has already agreed that we will offer the programme again from 18th to 22nd June 2018. 

To minimise costs for participants and for logistical reasons the Dublin area CONUL libraries will host the programme again in 2018. The themes will be similar to this year but will be reallocated between the host institutions.

We are also making a change to the 2018 event in response to feedback from the 2017 participants and from library staff in the host institutions.  Next year’s participants will include eight Irish librarians from the CONUL Dublin area libraries.

Irish participants will follow the same application procedure as the overseas participants. We will begin advertising the programme in November 2017 – so keep your eyes peeled if you’d like to be in with a chance to participate in the 2018 ERASMUS Library Staff Mobility Week in Dublin!

For the perspective of one of the participants of the programme you can check out Maria Svenningsson's post


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