11 Jul 2024

Erasmus Library Staff Mobility Week 2024: My Experience in Ireland

This guest post is by Emma Persson who is an instructional librarian at Linnaeus University in Sweden. Emma took part in the fifth Irish Erasmus Staff Mobility week hosted by CONUL Libraries from the 24-28th June 2024. This week is targeted at professional library staff working in universities or other research orientated libraries with an interest in visiting Ireland. It gives participants the opportunity to engage with Irish librarians and visit many of Ireland's CONUL Libraries. Find out more about the Erasmus programme on the CONUL website

Sixteen people standing in a garden, facing the camera
The Erasmus participants in the garden at MOLI. Picture credit: Billy Kenrick
I was asked if I wanted to share a bit of my experience during my Erasmus exchange. And it was not a difficult question to answer. I had a wonderful time so of course I wanted to!

This was my first Erasmus exchange that I have been on. I applied at the end of winter and it was with a bit of anxiety and nervousness. One of the reasons for that was that you had to give a presentation to the other participants during the week. And even though I work as a teaching librarian, standing in front of other colleagues is not something I feel very comfortable with. But I've always wanted to go to Ireland and to be able to do it this way was something I simply couldn't pass up, presentation or not! After a while I got the message that I had been accepted and shortly afterwards I also received a very nice and welcoming email addressing the issue of speaking in front of others. In one place it said: Don't forget, you are among friends. And that is one of the things that characterised my stay in Ireland. All the friendly people, and all the interesting meetings and conversations!

I landed on Sunday and after some confusion about my bus journey to Dublin, I was immediately helped by a person who had moved to Dublin a couple of years ago and who made it easy for me to find my way. And then one day followed the other.

Picture of a bell tower and large gothic style building behind it
Trinity College, Dublin
Each day had a theme of its own and on day 1 we were at the Royal Irish Academy. Among other things, we heard about the work to create a digital archive, the Ordnance Survey Collection. It is an incredible collection that contains lots of detailed maps, letters, drawings and more that describe much of Ireland's history. We also listened to some of the participants' presentations, which this day included the use of social media in university libraries. The presentations were spread out during the week according to the theme of the day. In the evening we had a very nice guided tour around Dublin where we again heard a lot about Ireland's interesting history, the Easter Rising and the influence of the Vikings on Ireland and in Dublin.

8 people standing in a park
A walk in St Stephen's Green on day 1. Picture credit: Dimitrios Kasamatis 

The rest of the week continued in this way. Each day we visited a different university and interesting lectures were alternated with tours of different libraries. Something that was consistent was the work on accessibility for all, the creation of well thought out learning environments and adaptations for those with special needs. Almost every day there were also different very exciting guided tours of, among other things, the Book of Kells, the Museum of Literature Ireland and the exhibition on W.B Yeats. Of course, the week also consisted of many pleasant gatherings with the other participants. There was a great atmosphere in the group and I think many of us will continue to keep in touch with each other in one way or another!

Seven people seated at along table in a grand hall
Pugin Hall, St Patrick's College, Maynooth. 

My lasting impression is that I am so grateful to have had the privilege to go on this exchange and I am so glad that I dared to send in my application on that dark winter day. During my week I have seen so much and heard so many interesting stories! I have experienced the hustle and bustle of Dublin and the great atmosphere in the pubs.

So how did it go with my presentation, you might wonder? On Friday, the last day, it was time and I was so nervous as the minutes ticked by far too quickly. I had also managed to lose my voice for the first time in my life and I had to struggle to be heard at all. Not quite optimal conditions for a presentation. But when I walked up to the podium and everyone heard (or not... 😉 ) how I sounded, they quickly arranged a microphone. And somehow this took all the focus off my nervousness and then when I looked up and saw everyone's friendly and smiling faces it just disappeared and everything went as well as it could.

My time in Dublin ended the same way it started. With a meeting. But this time, on a Sunday evening at Trinity College, I was able to help an elderly woman, who grew up in Ireland but now lives in Canada, get back to her family. And again, an interesting conversation that I will carry with me through life.

Thank you Conul for a great week and I hope to have the opportunity to come back to Ireland again sometime!

A woman standing on a rooftop with her hands in the air
On the rooftop at TU Dublin


Post a Comment