So that's it - I have spent four weeks in Ireland, working at the NUI Galway Library of the National University of Ireland Galway.
What have I learned?
1) Being friendly is everything.
Being friendly, personal and creating a good atmosphere is not even a topic here – it’s just this way and that's good. In fact, that's great for someone like me. I had a great time and not only learned about library topics but also about lifestyle and how proper teamwork functions.
2) Freedom and creativity in the daily work.
I was working in the division for digital publishing and innovation. The best thing about this team is that they have a lot of freedom to decide on what they are working on. That eventually leads to great partnerships, ideas, and unique value being created at the library. Definitely something we in Germany can learn: to give every librarian space for innovation in his / her area.
3) Pub culture.
The word "pub" comes from "public house" and therefore isn't far away from a library in its meaning. Pubs were established to contribute to society, give a room for creativity, chatting, storytelling - and of course drinking. While libraries (mostly) do not focus on the last one, the other points are definitely part of our identity as well! And what makes Irish pubs special? Their cosy look. Inspect the walls the next time you visit one.
Road signs, awards, pictures, blessings, and almost always: books on craggy old wooden shelves. Storytelling and culture is still alive in the heart of Irish pubs today.
Maybe, we as libraries, should foster this atmosphere as well to encourage people just "being" in our houses. And maybe old wooden shelves and books that just look old but actually are completely worthless are a part of what makes people feel home in their library - and that's okay. Maybe the next time we build or change our reading rooms we should try to include a pub, not yet another group work space.
I am not quite sure if you are even allowed to call your pub a real pub if you don't sell Guinness. And that is quite fascinating. This company established a brand that is essential to Irish lifestyle - and that for over 250 years now! I don't know about you, but I personally would love seeing libraries being such a part of their community. How do we get there?
Well, Guinness proudly celebrates itself, cooperates with quite literally everybody and was one of the first companies to actively do buyer research - speaks for itself, doesn't it?
Go raibh maith agat to Cillian, Aisling, Peter, and Ann - I had a great time that I will always remember.