Thursday, 19 May 2011

Get thee to a library!

I returned to Campus Helsingborg this morning. I had a very interesting discussion with a librarian there who is taking a teaching course that is mandatory for librarians, researchers, Lund University. She is finding it very useful and inspiring and is trying out some of the ideas in training sessions. I am hoping to start a similar course at Westminster in the near future. We talked about what information literacy training we provide (she also has responsibility for tourism within the department of service management) and the challenges that can arise. The library training she delivers to new students is encompassed within an academic toolkit, which includes academic writing and critical analysis.

At lunchtime, another of the librarians took me to Helsingborg public library. It's a nice library space, with a cafe in the centre. Academic and public libraries seem to work together to a far greater extent than at home. The staff at CH have even done a short exchange with staff at the public library. There are also study spaces which Lund University students often use.

In the afternoon, I went with another librarian on a ferry to Helsingør in Denmark, where Shakespeare set Hamlet. I must be drawn to places with a Shakespeare connection - I grew up near Stratford and spent my Erasmus student year in Verona. I even wrote my masters dissertation on Shakespeare collections in the UK.

However "Hamlet's castle" (Kronborg castle) was not the reason for my visit to this town. I was here thanks to a visit, arranged by the SFIS Syd and Svensk biblioteksförening Regionförening Skåne, to Helsingør's new public library. It was a fascinating place and, fortunately, I had a translator so I could find out about it.
I've been in some impressive public libraries, but this was truly the stuff of librarians' dreams. With so many cuts in public libraries and the arts at home, it's lovely to see somewhere that's investing in its libraries and culture. They have Macs everywhere, rooms where people can play video games, a "secret" room for children's storytime, and much more. Seriously, if Carlsberg built libraries... Unfortunately, I didn't get a good exterior shot but if you go to this website and spot the building that looks like sails - that's it!

Here are some fun interior shots:

Children's library (secret room is the black round one)

We had a delicious dinner on the ferry and in the course of eating we made the crossing a further three times. It was a great opportunity to chat to librarians from other libraries/sectors, so I got a broader impression of the Swedish library scene than just Lund University. I was made to feel very welcome and it shows that, no matter where you are, librarians are always very friendly!

Sadly, tomorrow's my last day in Lund. I am back at the University Library to see the archives, particularly their papyrus collection. Then I'm going to Copenhagen for the weekend so might not have time to blog. I'd like to say a big thank you (tack så mycket) to all the librarians and other library staff I've met during my visit, and also to everyone who's been following me on here. Hope you've learnt something and maybe even been inspired to apply for the Erasmus staff mobility programme yourself!

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