Been All Around This World: Lessons Learned from the International Partnership between the American Library Association (ALA) and the German Library & Information Association (BID).

European Studies librarians in North America build collections from multiple countries in a variety of languages. How can they become acquainted with the networks of libraries, publishers, and vendors necessary to develop these collections, and to provide research support effectively? Studying the bibliographical guides to European Studies librarianship are, of course, an excellent first step. There is the classic text by Dan Hazen and James Henry Spohrer, Building area studies collections, from 2007, and the Suddenly Selector Series  will include practice-based guides for European Studies in the future. A more general recent introduction is provided by Lesley Pitman in Supporting Research in Area Studies (2015), and the collaboration of area studies administrators on International and Area Studies Collections In the 21st Century, addresses mutual concerns in all area studies such as training, recruitment, digital content and finances.

Professional associations offer opportunities to learn from peers. The European Studies Section of the Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL) of the American Library Association (ALA) provides a forum and a resource page for five hundred thirty three North American European Studies librarians. In addition to that, ALA hosts several international initiatives within the International Relations Round Table  (IRRT), and brings many international speakers to ALA conferences.

European Studies librarians also work with the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), where the Germanic collectors organize in the German-North American Resources Partnership (GNARP), the French & Francophone collectors organize in the Collaborative Initiative for French Language Collections in North American Libraries (CIFNAL), and Eastern European collectors collaborate in the  Slavic and East European Materials Project (SEEMP).

Library and cultural heritage organizations nationally and internationally use acronyms as short hand for pointing to projects, standards and organizations. Outlining the basic organization of European Studies associations illustrates what a challenge it is to develop a deep understanding of each organization, its mission, and its audiences

All theory is gray, my friend. But forever green is the tree of life.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Faust. 1808.

The American Library Association and the German equivalent, Bibliothek & Information Deutschland (BID) e.V, decided to embark on an extended information exchange to provide the “tree of life” kind of learning needed for getting to know how our respective information and cultural heritage organizations operate. ALA and BID signed an agreement for the collaboration in 2014, and the exchange was set up to help a large number of subject librarians build a professional network both on the national and international level over three years, from 2016 to 2019. The many projects, meetings, and activities that resulted from the initiative demonstrate what it takes to explore issues and trends in librarianship in just one country, Germany, and can serve as a model for learning about other countries.

The article describing the exchange: “The American Library Association and German Library & Information Association Partnership: A Celebration,” was co-authored by Sharon Bostick (Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL), Fred Gitner (Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, IL), Hella Klauser (Internationale Kooperation, Deutscher Bibliotheksverband e.V. (dbv); Kompetenznetzwerk für Bibliotheken (knb), and Heidi Madden (Duke University).

The article appeared simultaneously in two venues, in the O-Bib, Das Offene Bibliotheksportal (Open Access Library Platform, Germany) and in International Leads (A Publication of the International Relations Round Table of the American Library Association).

If you want further information about the behind-the-scenes work in writing the article or European librarianship, email Heidi.

 

 

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