Job Swapping: A Professional Internship and Exchange Abroad in Research Music Libraries

By Pampel, Ines | Fontes Artis Musicae, July-September 2013 | Go to article overview

Job Swapping: A Professional Internship and Exchange Abroad in Research Music Libraries


Pampel, Ines, Fontes Artis Musicae


Dresden-Cambridge-London 2012

After studying in the German Democratic Republic, followed by two decades as a professional librarian at the Sachsische Landesbibliothek--Staats-und Universitatsbibliothek Dresden (SLUB), which included some years taken off work after the birth of three children, I was looking for an adventure. I decided to learn more about European music libraries in detail and expand my English language skills. In other words: I was embarking on a journey to new shores. From January until the end of June 2012, I was working in music research libraries in England. In exchange, a colleague from London went to Dresden for one month.

Is it all the same in Europe? With that question in mind, I initiated an internship and an exchange, wanting to know if music libraries abroad work just as the SLUB in Dresden. I confined my choice to four music libraries in one country, which offered me a great opportunity to gain work experience regarding music processing and gave me an insight into the know-how of significant libraries in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, I was striving for personal development in the context of Lifelong Learning. The professional exchange was also useful for my home library because the staff gap was filled during my absence and employees were able to acquire experience by working with an international colleague. I embarked on the internship hoping it would be helpful for the involved partners, common projects and future cooperation between the libraries.

It required 12 months to plan the six-month internship. At first, I approached the Deputy Library Director asking if it would be possible to do an internship over such a long time period and organize an exchange. His answer was "yes". Thus I started looking for funding and investigating music libraries. Throughout this, I considered the world and its opportunities, my own aims, and what would make sense. I was pleased to get the green light from three libraries for an internship and to hear about the interest of one library in hosting an exchange. I then made enquiries to the staff of the libraries regarding accommodation and found three rooms available to rent. It was fantastic to get a scholarship through the European Lifelong Learning Programme. (2) Furthermore, a colleague at the Royal College of Music Library in London was willing to take part in an exchange. We proceeded by planning the duration of his internship at the SLUB and searching for an accommodation for his stay in Dresden.

At first, I worked at the Pendlebury and University Libraries in Cambridge. I catalogued printed music, gave recommendations for acquisitions relating to female German composers, and wrote a blog post for the MusiCB3 Blog (3). I had my first experiences of the American data format MARC 21 and the cataloguing rules AACR2. All of the Cambridge libraries are cataloguing as part of one consortium called Newton. (4) Once a year, the staff of all Cambridge libraries are invited to attend a conference. I took part in the Library Conference in 2012 (5) at West Road Concert Hall covering the subject Blue Skies ... Thinking and Working in the Cloud. I was impressed by Deborah Shorley, Director of Library Services at Imperial College London, who stated: "Libraries must evolve in the light of changing demands. We must never lose sight of our main purpose: to supply our users' needs. We must accept that libraries as we know them may not be the best way to deliver information to people in the future. To justify our existence we shall need to be agile--and prepared to challenge many of our long held assumptions." In addition, visiting the libraries of the Selwyn College, Christ's College, King's College, and the Reference Library of the Fitzwilliam Museum was a greatly enriching experience. I frequently enjoyed Choral Evensong at the College Chapels and the lunchtime concerts.

It was an honour to have the opportunity to spend the second part of my internship in one of the UK's greatest cultural institutions, the British Library in London. …

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