Morgane Gourgand is a French librarian with a degree in Libraries and Information Sciences at the University of Rennes. She holds a Masters in Libraries and Cultural Management from the University of Nantes and after an internship at the National Women’s Library of Bologna (Italy), she dreamed of pursuing an international career to broaden her knowledge of the vast world of libraries and be able to enrich his professional and practical experience. After 4 years of work in an extraordinary public library “3rd place” in France. She currently works in the academic field and is assistant librarian at the University of Malta Library since 2017.
Morgane, in these 5 years of work in Malta, what can you tell us about your professional experience in this country? Is the profession of the librarian legally recognized and what is the training path to become a librarian?
I have been working at the University of Malta for 5 years, first as a Library Assistant, then I got promoted to Assistant Librarian in 2018. The profession of librarian is of course legally recognised in Malta. The Department of Library Information & Archive Sciences within the University of Malta offers different courses (DLIS, Bachelor of Knowledge and Information Management and Master of Arts in Library and Information Sciences) designed to provide specialised training and the required practical and theoretical skills for librarians and information professionals. In Malta, contrary to France, there is no national competitive exam to be able to apply as a Librarian. It is up to employers to check whether candidates have recognised qualifications for the position they apply for. In my case, I graduated from a French University, but it made no difference in the recruitment process, as long as I could provide my certificates, and of course bring my experience, skills, and motivation.
You have decided to embark on an international career that has led you to get to know various realities in addition to your country of origin. What idea have you got about this?
From Year 1 at University, I knew I wanted to discover other types of libraries and experience different ways of working as a Librarian. Thus, although a did different placements in various libraries in France throughout my studies, I did one of my first internships in an “Alliance française” (French cultural center abroad) and my last 6-months internship in Bologna (Italy) in a specialised library of national interest, the Italian National Women’s Library. During my career, I have always been committed to international exchanges. I attended the IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations) annual congress in 2014, participated in a summit with EBLIDA (European Bureau of Library, Information and Documentation Associations) in 2018, and as an Academic Librarian, I had the opportunity to participate to several Erasmus+ Staff Mobility in Tallinn, Cork and Athens. Of course, I also learnt a lot from my experience at the University of Malta Library. I don’t know if I would have had the opportunity to become an Academic Librarian in France, since I passed the competitive national exam for Public libraries (I passed the “B category” in 2016) and not the one for State and Academic libraries. Being given the opportunity to work in an international campus in a different country is incredibly enriching, culturally and professionally. But it is also challenging, and requires a lot of observation and adaptation.
How did these international experiences and exchanges contribute to your work?
All my experiences in foreign libraries, long or short, were a real source of inspiration and enriched my professional practice. They all improved my competences and knowledge, and enabled me to acquire specific know-how and to exchange about professional practice. Different cultures and different communities face different realities. The part that I found to be the most challenging is to implement something I have learnt. Participating in a conference is a very enriching experience, but only has impact if you can think about how you can take what you have gained, and turn it into something on the ground. Some ideas might be thought through in the long term. For instance, I have a strong interest about how libraries can tackle the climate challenge. I was therefore extremely enthusiastic about the “green campaign” of the UCC Library in Cork, that I visited in December 2019. Such projects need long-term involvement, and need also the support of all the stakeholders and the engagement of a large community. That is why communication is essential between colleagues, and more largely with the library community in general to make the most of our professional experiences and practices. I always keep an eye open about what other libraries do ! I am convinced that the exchange of experiences through an international collaboration is a key to improve the libraries services and make them evolve to cater better to the community needs and reaffirm their place.
Is there an experience of international collaboration between libraries that you find particularly inspiring?
There are many ! It starts with all the professional associations, bodies and entities that represent us at a local, national, and international level. These are privileged spaces for professional exchanges. I have been following the actions of the NGO BSF-Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (Libraries Withou Borders) since its creation in 2007. Bibliothèques Sans Frontières brings knowledge and information to people in need by providing access to books and digital resources. BSF intervened in over 50 countries around the world, touching the lives of six million people so far. Their innovative tools (like the Ideas Box, a portable library and pop-up multimedia center that can be set for instance in refugees camps) and customised resources and programmes (such as the Digital Travelers program, a civic movement around digital literacy) are really inspiring. This year, BSF is mobilising to set up emergency information solutions for the Ukrainian refugees, and deployed Ideas Box and emergency libraries to help. I would love to collaborate with them one day!
What would you recommend to a young student who dreams of becoming a librarian?
The profession of librarian has an incredibly large number of aspects and facets. You can specialise in user services, marketing, conservation and restauration, digital resources or even computer gaming! Visit different libraries, take the time discuss with passionate librarians. Get inspired and follow your dreams!
Mario Coffa archivista e bibliotecario, laureato in Conservazione dei Beni Culturali presso l’Università degli Studi di Perugia (2005) e diplomato in Archivistica e Paleografia presso la Scuola di Archivistica dell’Archivio Segreto Vaticano (2010). Dal 2010 Lavora per CAeB (Cooperativa Archivistica e Bibliotecaria) presso le biblioteche dell’Università di Perugia come bibliotecario e come archivista presso l'Archivio Storico del Comune di Gubbio. Si occupa di Biblioteche Digitali e formazione in ambito di biblioteconomia digitale. Nel 2014 membro del Comitato Esecutivo Regionale dell’Associazione Italiana Biblioteche (AIB) sezione Umbria, membro del gruppo AIB sul portfolio professionale e nel triennio 2017-2020 Presidente eletto di AIB Umbria. Dal 2020 membro dell'Osservatorio Formazione dell'Associazione Italiana Biblioteche. Autore di diversi articoli e interviste per Insula Europea sul tema degli archivi, delle biblioteche e del digital lending.
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