This week's guest blog comes courtesy of Jara Breul from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Jara is in London for 6 weeks to get a taste of the Library and Information Science landscape here in the UK.
When I arrived on a Tuesday evening I knew I would get some insights to British information units, but I wasn’t expecting it to start at 8.45 on Wednesday morning. Nonetheless, it did, and I met the Sue Hill Recruitment Team. Not knowing much about the different dialects or “slang”, I had a tough start understanding my new colleagues.
Four weeks later, I am still challenged by the language, but I understand a lot more and – thanks to Sue and her team – I have been to City University classes, London Met Library, British Film Institute and Linklaters.
Since I spent a whole week at Linklaters, I can be perfectly sure that a law librarian doesn’t spend all day fighting through textbooks and paragraphs, searching for a specific case; I know that classes at university might take longer than expected and might include a short video-conference with someone getting up at 5 to talk to a class; and that there are various mysterious ways of cataloguing moving pictures and archive materials – not to mention copyright concerns involved when handling these special materials.
I was also impressed by the “Treasures Room” at British Library and hope that we will have something equally impressive at Berlin, once the State Library finishes its reorganization and renovation.
Since you might be under the impression that I totally lost myself in the professional area, I should admit that I was quite a good tourist as well. I have been to the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace on a Sunday, I went to a pub in Trafalgar Square to eat fish and chips – twice -, I bought a pullover with the British flag and “London” on it, I went to St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, I got on a boat and on the Emirates Air Line - and I watched Doctor Who live on BBC One!
And there are two more weeks to go!
Brief summary of what I’ve learned so far:
- There are more institutions dealing with information than you’d initially think of – especially if you’re not from here
- Job titles of librarians can be really confusing
- Britain has got more than 100 universities – and University Librarians can’t always easily be identified
- People are really happy to talk to you about their jobs and projects
- Librarians in Britain cope with a lot of similar problems to German ones
- Being here on an internship gives you lots of insights you would not get as a tourist
- And never – NEVER - come to London without an umbrella and / or rain coat.
- Jara Breul