Erasmus staff mobility visit – Freie Universität Berlin

I was aware of the Erasmus Staff Mobility Scheme for professional support staff and applied to participate in it this year. I have a degree in Modern Languages and spent a year abroad in France and Germany as part of this. I applied to visit the Freie Universität Berlin Library which is a major research Library at the end of July 2014. I chose the Freie Universität because it is a research university, it has 4,800 research students and I had always wanted to visit Berlin.

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The visit to the  University was organised to take place from 24 -31 July 2014. The Library Director developed a programme that included my particular areas of interest such as acquisitions, eresource provision, online learning, researcher and information literacy support, Primo and the Library website. The library structure of the Freie Universität Berlin comprises of the University Library and around forty departmental libraries with total holdings of around 8 million printed items, 38,000 e-journals, 400,000 e-books, and 1300 databases. The Library website is partly in English, there is a repository and the Library uses the resource discovery tool Primo. The University is based in Dahlem which is just outside of the centre of Berlin. Dahlem is a very green and pleasant area. I stayed at a guest house in a lovely area just off the Kürfurstedamm  shopping street and got the bus to the University. I had meetings with different members of staff to give different perspectives.

I found some similarities and some differences with the UK.  We use the same library systems (The university is about to purchase Alma & Primo in a consortium with other uni libraries), we have very similar eresources provision and packages.  German university libraries allow the public in but have many closed access stacks and you can’t take in bags and coats. The UK libraries are often more centralised whereas the library in Berlin has been very decentralised although is building a new library to house 24 of its departmental library spaces. Open access and repositories are the same.  Colleagues mentioned they liked our LibGuides and felt that we were more advanced on information and digital literacy provision for students and providing a more personalised, customer-focussed  approach to this by having dedicated staff.    I very much enjoyed visiting Berlin, it is a great city. My highlight was photographing tigers at the zoological garden (the leopard was asleep).

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About Diane Bell

I'm a Research Librarian at City, University of London. I am interested in delivering services, collections and designing and delivering training to research students and staff in particular. My interests include information and digital literacy, writing articles and conference presentations and research-based practice.

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