As part of an Erasmus exchange agreement I have spent last week in Tampere University Library, visiting different departments. My visit to the Library coincided with the Erasmus Staff Exchange Week organised by the University and I was fortunate to be able to join a group of about 20 international staff from all over Europe for various events during the week (more about that later!).
This week has provided a wonderful insight into the Finnish higher education system, university libraries, and Finnish culture. I appreciated the opportunity to look around the University campus and to hear about the changes happening this year. In Tampere students and academic staff are able to benefit from a well-resourced library, and have access to a vast range of resources electronically. You have three modern library sites which are attractive and comfortable to work in, and I was impressed by how quiet and studious the atmosphere is. It was interesting also to hear about the work at Tampere University Press, an area I knew nothing about, and the effort they put into showcasing the best of University research.
Librarians all over the world like to reach as many of their customers as possible to help them get the best out of the library and I am envious that staff in Tampere University Library will have the opportunity to talk to all students on all courses, from the autumn. It’s not always easy to find the information you need for your work and librarians in Tampere are very useful and valuable people to know.
The history of this city is fascinating and the Vapriikki Museum made the past come alive for me. It illustrated that Finland, and indeed Tampere, has been at the forefront of many technological advances and this continues today.
A highlight of the cultural programme this week has to be the trip to Kaupinoja. I had been assured that this was a great tradition in Finland – going to a sauna and then jumping into a half-frozen lake. So, I decided it must be one opportunity I could not miss. Half of the group of international staff could not bear the thought of the cold water, and the other half (me included) were crazy enough to give it a go. I have to say it was a fantastic experience, even though the weather wasn’t great, and it felt very rewarding for me. Having spoken to my library colleagues I now realise that most people use the sauna in the comfort of their own homes, and only the most determined (or foolish) use the public sauna in winter. It’s something I won’t forget…
Lastly, my colleagues at the University Library have made my visit to Finland a memorable one. They have been so welcoming, generous and kind-hearted and I have learned much from them. Many thanks to all the staff who have spent time with me and tolerated my many questions with a great deal of patience! You are welcome in Sheffield any time!
University of Sheffield Library
Photo: Merja Hyödynmaa