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Library with International Flair

Library with International Flair

Otterbein’s Courtright Memorial Library is looking for the best ways to serve its users. Some of those best practices are found in other countries around the world. That’s why library staff members have been traveling the globe and inviting international colleagues to campus to exchange ideas and implement the ones that work best for Otterbein.

International Exchanges

In May of 2015, Information Literacy Coordinator Rares Piloiu participated in the librarian exchange program through the BII (Bibliothek & Information International) and Goethe Institut. He was a guest in Germany, at the University of Regensburg and at the Institute for East- and Southeast European Studies In Regensburg. He collaborated with German colleagues in the areas of information literacy instruction and digital collections.

Jessica Crossfield McIntosh, public services librarian and assistant professor, has traveled abroad to China in 2013 and to Malawi this past spring.

“In May 2016, I traveled with the INST/SYE Africa course to Malawi as a librarian liaison that was funded in part through the Humanities Advisory Council. On top of assisting students at home and abroad, part of that project was to expand international relationships and perhaps grow the international librarian exchange,” she said. The trip also included trips to Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana.

“I was able to meet many other librarians working in academic and public libraries, as well as students from all over the world in various fields of study. As part of the China exchange, I met with different library departments in their rather large library system and assisted on projects at their institution. In Malawi, in addition to working with the students and faculty abroad, I visited a small theological university, a mid-size university who lost their library in a fire last fall, and a smaller public library in Zimbabwe,” she said.

Crossfield McIntosh said that despite differences, she found some similarities in the libraries she visited. “I learned that every library is unique and effective in its own way and that library users need different things in different places. Despite where you are in the world, librarians have the same purpose, which is to provide specific services that are needed in that particular community. Whether it be discipline-specific research assistance or finding a book for a 2-year-old to enjoy. Many of these concepts have aided me in my public service at Otterbein and I offer the same principles to our students, faculty, and staff. 

Crossfield McIntosh traveled to Beijing and Shanghai, China, in 2013 with a group from Otterbein as part of an established international librarian exchange with Shanghai Jiaotong University and Southwest Jiaotong University. The program is set to run through 2019, with a mutual goal to “establish international exchange and collaborative partnerships though promoting and sharing ideas and solutions common to libraries."

The relationship started in 2006, and has given the visiting librarians, both from Otterbein and from China, the opportunity to network with library faculty and staff by offering them a venue for sharing their experiences and best practices through meetings, lectures and presentations.

Jane Wu, systems librarian and associate professor at Otterbein, was born in China and has been involved in the exchange program from its founding. “So far we have received seven exchange librarians from China and we are expecting to have two more this coming fall from each of the institutions in China. We also have sent five librarians on a total of six trips to China.”

“The increasing effects of globalization on societies and institutions everywhere and the increasingly interconnected and interdependent world mean that librarians need to have a global perspective in order to best serve their users,” Wu said.

“The library exchange program between the two libraries in China has also served as a bridge for other international program and relationships for Otterbein, like the panda base internship program for Zoo and Conservation program and more international students attending Otterbein because of the relationships,” she added.

Inviting International Colleagues to Campus

Otterbein was one of only two academic libraries chosen to welcome participants from the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) as part of the Local Library Visit tours during the 82nd World Library and Information Congress, held Aug. 13-19 in Columbus, OH.  The congress is held annually at locations across the globe, and had not been in the United States since 2001.

According to the congress website, “It brings together over 3,500 participants from more than 120 countries. It sets the international agenda for the profession and offers opportunities for networking and professional development to all delegates.

It is an opportunity for the host country to showcase the status of libraries and information science in their country and region as well as to have their professionals experience international librarianship and international relations in a unique way.”

Otterbein’s librarians not only volunteered to work at IFLA, but also presented and attended presentations throughout the week, gaining international insights and recognition. 

According to Elizabeth Zeitz, collection development and acquisitions coordinator at Otterbein, the chance to participate was a rare opportunity. “It is literally for some librarians a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect, engage, and learn on a global scale,” she said.

Visitors were welcomed at the Courtright Memorial Library throughout the week, along with a formal tour program held on Friday, Aug. 19, and attended by 13 international and national guests.

Worlds Away: A Photo Story from a Traveling Librarian

Now through Sept. 23, you can see photos by Crossfield McIntosh of her Otterbein-related travels to China and Africa. Worlds Away: A Photo Story from a Traveling Librarian is on display in Becker Gallery, on the lower level of the library. As described in her artist statement: “Worlds Away captures observational moments from an outsider in a foreign land.”