Fresh ideas through small differences: discovering the German way of library work
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International professional exchange is an effective, challenging and fun way to gain fresh ideas for your library. Even small differences between libraries abroad and at home can help to assume a new perspective on problems and inspire change and development. There is a long tradition of mutual learning between North American and German libraries, and one way to keep it alive and put it to use is a professional visit at a German library supported by Bibliothek & Information International (BII). Founded in 2000 with its precursors dating back to the 1960s, BII is a standing committee of Bibliothek & Information Deutschland, the federation of German library associations, working on a voluntary basis. It is responsible for fostering exchange between libraries in Germany and the rest of the world by issuing travel grants and giving advice to interested colleagues. The committee puts emphasis on trips of 2-4 weeks length with a clearly defined professional goal and a convincing concept for transferring learning experiences to the grantee’s home country. The poster will show why German libraries are worth a visit and where some of the small differences to North America lie, describe the programs that BII offers to Americans and Canadians and explain the application process using charts. It will also give examples for successful stays by quoting and showing pictures from grantees’ reports. The presentation will be complemented by graphs that visualize grant statistics, e.g. the number of grantees by country of origin and topic of their stay.