Librarian Residency Promotes International Collaboration
From late 2006 through early 2007, the University of Toronto Libraries hosted Kyushu University Reference Librarian Shin Kataoka in the first-ever Elsevier-sponsored international library residency. Here, UTL Deputy Chief Librarian Judith Snow and Shin Kataoka share their thoughts on the experience.
How did this residency get going?
Judith Snow: The University of Toronto Libraries consider it essential to connect globally. Weíve hosted visitors from Chile, China, Germany, France, Japan, the US and other countries, and we tailor each visit to the needs of the individual or group. We hope our visitors learn from the expertise of our staff, and weíve found our staff benefit from our visitorsí expertise.
Shin Kataoka: During my career, Iíve gained experience in circulation, serials acquisition and reference and have introduced efficiencies in these areas at the Kyushu University Library. However, I wanted to learn more about overseas librariesí development of specific services, including online services, and wanted to develop my international communication skills. Thinking a residency might introduce me to a new way of thinking about library services, I spoke with my Elsevier Account Development Manager about putting together a program at UTL.
How did you put together the agenda for this residency?
Judith: We collaborated. After receiving details about Shin’s interests, I identified experts on our staff who could work with Shin to address these interests.
Shin: Judy provided an outline of our proposed agenda. Then I asked for additional interviews, and to participate in UTL meetings and seminars. In the end, they even gave me some jobs to do. Putting together the agenda, and the residency itself, were really comfortable experiences for me.
Please, can you describe the structure of the residency?
Judith: As many of Shinís interests focused on technology, we planned for him to spend most of his time in the UTL Information Technology Services Department. Also we arranged for Shin to spend time in the Robarts Reference Department. Though originally planned to cover two months, the residency was extended for a third month. During this month, Shin undertook hands-on activities including working with databases, dealing with access issues and communicating with publishers.
From the UTL perspective, what have been desired outcomes of this residency?
Judith: We aimed to provide Shin, just like all our visitors, with theoretical information and practical experience and training that would prove helpful in the future. We also hoped that our staff could broaden their perspective by hearing about activities at Kyushu University Library. Finally, we are continuing to explore the potential for future collaborations (e.g., in collections or sharing of technological expertise) between UTL and Kyushu University Library.
As a visiting librarian, what have you gained?
Shin: Working in the Information Technology Services Department, I learned about the Scholars Portal, an integrated scholarly information infrastructure; the UTL website; T-Space, the UTL institutional repository; and efforts to enrich the e-books program. In the reference department, I learned about services provided in person, by e-mail and by online chat; liaison librarians’ activities; and challenges in enhancing e-reference collections. Importantly, I participated in adjusting the linking of e-resources. Participating in a practical job proved fantastic and meaningful for me. Now that I’m home, though I’ve gained plenty of ideas at UTL, I’m first sharing my knowledge of the UTL website. This is because Kyushu University Library’s new website is under construction!
What advice do you have for colleagues interested in similar residencies?
Judith: From the UTL perspective, best results are achieved when visits are not too lengthy. Two to three months work well. In addition, more benefit is gained when a visitor has a working knowledge of English.
Shin: It's important to understand your aims for a residency and to be knowledgeable about recent library topics. Being able to offer help to the host library during your residency can result in a rewarding experience.
What will you remember from this residency?
Shin: UTL colleagues demonstrate enormous energy in creating new services for users, and in creating an atmosphere that's really friendly for visitors. I appreciate how they've helped me gain significant understanding of their cutting-edge activities. Iíll never forget Warren Holder and Rea Devakos, who included me in their meetings and took my family around Toronto. Further, Iíll always remember Judy Snow, Marshall Clinton, Lynne Kutsukake, and all the other UTL librarians and Elsevier colleagues whoíve helped ensure the success of this experience. My residency at the University of Toronto Libraries has brought me a lot of new knowledge and relationships, and I’m grateful to this program.