Whereas the 2009 ALISE conference in Denver started off in unusually mild weather, it is quite a bit colder in Boston in 2010. The snow we haven’t seen in New York for a while now is still visible here in front yards and on roadsides. But the sun is shining and the wintry chill suits Boston’s European charm.
The conference is taking place at the Plaza Hotel. Roughly 400 people are registered and the organizers have scheduled five to six parallel events per time slot, accompanied by the work sessions, poster presentations, vendor exhibits and job interviews that traditionally take place during such conferences. So, as expected, a podium discussion planned for 8:30 in the morning doesn’t draw a large crowd. But in addition to the presentation, this meeting also served as a means of informing each other on where we stand, six months after the Library and Information Science (LIS) study tour. And, actually, a great deal has taken place: the Stuttgart Media University has signed an agreement with Pratt Institute and Wayne State University, and the University of Applied Science Darmstadt has made an analogous memorandum of agreement with Rutgers University. At the faculty level, a similar agreement exists between the University of Applied Science Hamburg and Syracuse University. With this, Scott Nicholson has smoothed the way for a 2010 student exchange involving two students from each institution. The U.S. students will participate in the International Seminar that Hamburg offers from March to June. And two students from Hamburg can apply either to travel to Syracuse or to take part in an e-learning program there. In his part of the presentation, Scott Nicholson convincingly demonstrated that it is absolutely possible to overcome the problems presented by this type of exchange program: in order for the BA courses offered in Hamburg to be recognized by the Masters program in the U.S., the students must work up their experience beyond the class parameters. And Scott Nicholson also was able to work out for the American students the somewhat different system of credits they will receive for participating in the seminar. He even figured out the financial angle. This isn’t, of course, as simple as it sounds here, but in any case, it’s possible!
Joe Mika, of Wayne State University, also addressed concrete exchange projects. His plan is to take a group of 12 students to Germany in 2011, and Stuttgart and Berlin are definitely on the itinerary. Perhaps the prospective American librarians will even have the opportunity to attend the Bibliothekartag…Ragna Seidler de Alwis reported on how the University of Applied Science Cologne is making plans to interest more American students in its program and Ursula Georgy, also from Cologne, reported on a program of the UAS7 Group, made up of seven German universities of applied science: American students can apply for six months of study and a six-month paid(!) internship. A one-week orientation and three-week language course are included. Nancy Everhart reported on plans developed as part of the Goethe-Institut New York’s “Librarian in Residence” program, according to which two German school librarians would be invited for a professional stay in Florida. And finally, Debbie Rabina again summed up the 10 most important differences between the German and American library education systems, which she and Joe Mika are going to publish in the March issue of the German library magazine "Buch und Bibliothek". Everyone agreed: since the study tour, a number of initiatives and projects have been created. Reason enough to celebrate – and so the stimulating discussions between German and American colleagues continued that evening over a glass of wine at the Goethe-Institut Boston. Perhaps not surprisingly, guests numbered over three times those who attended the morning session. Conversation, in any case, was lively, and it was clear that in the library sphere, German-American exchange is on the right path.