26 Jun 2019

Review of Erasmus Staff Week 2019 in Bremen

By Kathryn Briggs, GMIT. 

The fifth Bremen Staff Week took place from May 6th to May 10th 2019. The Bremen universities jointly organised the Erasmus Staff Week focusing on experiences and challenges related to gender equality in academia with a distinct emphasis on women in STEM fields. In addition, the programme included a special stream for librarians on the topic “Future developments in libraries”. Both, the hosts and participants presented and shared best practice examples, ideas, and concepts, which were analysed and discussed in interactive workshops. The workshops took place on the individual campuses of the host universities in Bremen and Bremerhaven.

My colleague, Deirdre Geoghegan and I were very fortunate to be awarded a grant to visit Bremen as part of the Erasmus Mobility Programme. The Erasmus program supports further education and training by allowing staff of higher education institutions to acquire knowledge or know-how from experiences and good practices abroad as well as practical skills relevant for their current job and their professional development along with building cooperation between higher education institutions.

The Staff Week was such a rewarding professional experience as it provided an opportunity to gain knowledge of library practices from other countries, discussing and sharing ideas not only with the hosts but with fellow participants. It also allowed for many cultural and social activities which are enjoyable when visiting another country, from tours to scavenger hunts, dinners to an after-work party. The library stream included 12 participants (excluding the hosts) from Spain, Bulgaria, Finland, Poland and the Ukraine.
Photos by author
Day 1 began at The House of Science (Haus der Wissenschaft) with mainstream and library stream participants joining together. The day included a keynote and welcome address along with a very interesting and informative panel discussion on “Breaking the ceiling: women in higher education”. The afternoon involved a scavenger hunt around the fabulous sights and landmarks of Bremen including the Town Hall, the Town Musicians and the Schnoor Quarter. The day concluded with a delicious dinner with the hosts at Beck’s restaurant, with prizes for the winners of the scavenger hunt and local chocolate for everyone else!
Photos by author
Day 2 of the library stream took us to the University of Bremen (Universität Bremen) where, after a very warm welcome and presentation on the Bremen State and University Library from the deputy chief library and head of user services, Claudia Bodem, all participants presented a poster on their country, city and library. Deirdre and I had no problem presenting and promoting Galway, Ireland and GMIT. After the poster presentations Claudia gave us an extensive tour of the library including the vast and very impressive storage areas. After the tour the committee organised individual meetings with affiliated library staff to discuss and exchange ideas regarding our position and interests; I met with Noemi Betancort in Digital Services/Research Data Management where we disused our library systems, discovery service, webpages and other practises.

The day continued with a presentation of rare books by Dr. Jan Ulrich Büttner, the collection at SuUB Bremen holds unique and valuable books dating back to 1660. The day concluded with an ‘After Work Party’ hosted by the very welcoming library staff, who went above and beyond preparing a vast selection of savoury and sweet traditional foods and choice of wines. The evening focused on networking and collaborating, we talked about changes in libraries and how we conduct our daily work. The hosts had organised games and quizzes based on the workings of their libraries; a wonderful end to an impressive day.
Photos by author
Day 3 took all participants on an organised bus tour to Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences (Hochschule Bremerhaven) The day commenced with an official welcome and presentation of the University by Prof. Dr. Gerhard Feldmeier, before the library stream took part in an interactive workshop on new directions in collection management followed by a tour of the branch library. This was a great opportunity to gain knowledge of practices from colleagues in the partner library and to discuss and share ideas on future developments of libraries, which was the topic of the library stream for the staff week. After lunch participants had the option of visiting the German Emigration Center or the Klimahaus Bremerhaven 8° Ost. I elected to visit the German Emigration Center which is Europe's largest museum about emigration. The interactive center showcases the history of German immigration in a stimulating and enlightening way. Other participants who visited the Klimahaus enjoyed discovering climate systems and climate change in the interactive museum. The day concluded with some free time to explore the port city of Bremerhaven.

I genuinely enjoyed and was enthused by the staff week. It was unfortunate that I could not engage in the full five days due to prior obligations. However, the experience is certainly one I will remember for a long time and I believe it will enrich my work. The participants on the library steam were a mixture of library staff, from directors to administrators, from several European countries and it was a pleasure to meet them all. I would highly recommend the Erasmus staff week for both personal and career development.  I have made new contacts to collaborate with and share ideas and now understand practices and procedures in German academic libraries. It was also interesting joining the mainstream participants; it was great to see people from different fields mixing and sharing ideas. I recommend that everyone explore the Erasmus staff mobility opportunities available to them.

With thanks to Erasmus+ for the opportunity to engage in the Bremen staff week by funding co-operations between higher education institutions across Europe. Special thanks to the organizing committee for such a great staff week, especially Kirsten Bergert and Manfred Nölte, organisers of the library stream. Everything was well-organized, informative and enjoyable, and it was a pleasure to be in such good company. Also, thanks to the International Office and Antje-Kathrine Nantcho at Hochschule Bremen.



Danke Bremen!
 

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