Studying Abroad and Job Exchanges

Roy Mackenzie | October 6, 2016

Today’s Blog Post comes to us from Sally Rubinstein, at our Putterham location.

I was lucky enough to do short study abroad programs through Simmons’ School of Library Science. In the summer of 2013, I traveled with a group of twelve students and two professors to Rome for three weeks. I took the course “Intellectual Freedom and Censorship” with Professor Laura Saunders and “Visual Communications” with Professor Gerry Benoit. I had always regretted not studying abroad while I was an undergraduate; I had several family members who had studied in places like England and Bosnia, and it seemed like a great way to spend some time in another country and get to know my classmates and professors. At that time, I was a part time employee and I knew I’d be looking for full time work soon, so I decided to take advantage of the flexibility in my schedule and go to Rome.



Now, you might be wondering what Visual Communications and Intellectual Freedom have to do with Rome.  Intellectual Freedom does have its roots in the Renaissance, which has its roots in Italy, and the art and architecture of Rome lent itself to the Visual Communications curriculum beautifully. But the curriculum does not have to mesh with the location. There is inherent value in travelling abroad, in seeing other countries, and in being immersed, even for a short time, in another culture. There is value in getting to better know your professors, especially in graduate school, where you are in a common field of study. We took class trips to Vatican City and the Appian Way. We visited the David Lubin Memorial Library at the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Classes were held in cafes and in courtyards under kumquat trees. I made some wonderful friends and spent my birthday on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. I also came home with several Italian children’s books to add to the Main children’s room–my peace offering to the staff who had to work around my three week absence.


I repeated the experience the next year by taking Professor Jim Matarazzo’s “Special Libraries” class in Paris. We took class trips to corporate libraries at BNP Paribas bank and KPMG, one of the largest auditing companies in the world. We also toured the American Library in Paris. While I had exposure to school, academic, and public libraries as either staff or patron, I had no knowledge of corporate libraries, so I found the class extremely interesting. I was also lucky to be traveling with my fellow Brookline staff member and good friend Maddi Ranieri.


We took a great weekend jaunt to Germany, where I bought German books for the Putterham children’s collection. I was so glad I made the decision to go on those two trips. There are many short term study abroad options for graduate students. Simmons has an ongoing program with Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. Most schools will let you do programs through schools other than your own and transfer credits. A friend of mine got credit for a Library and Information Sciences class in Ghana. My wanderlust kicks in just thinking about it.



Some organizations facilitate library exchange programs. The Bureau for International Library Staff Exchange (LIBEX), for instance, has a program allowing exchanges between library professionals in the UK and the United States. These exchanges benefit the staff members who get the chance to work in another country, as well as the staff and patrons remaining here, who are exposed to new ideas and cultures by working with visiting information professionals from other countries.