Librarians and Global Work: An Interview with Jana de Brauwere

The photos are from the Social Inclusion in Libraries Conference, Feb 2020

Despite the pandemic, there are librarians still conducting global work and research. Jana de Brauwere is one such librarian who still continues to actively connect to global library work! I had a chance to speak with her about recent project. In this interview, you’ll learn about Jana’s work and interests!

Ray: Thanks for speaking with me! Tell us about your work with global librarianship!

Jana: I have always been curious about how other libraries compare to the one I currently work for. Librarianship is all about information sharing so it only makes sense for us to share information about our work, projects, services, innovations etc…with others. We are all interested in providing the best possible service to the communities we serve and we are always on the lookout for that new innovative idea that can make our services even better. The library field is so diverse, we can learn a lot from each other. I have been interested in working with libraries abroad for a long time. Last year, I presented at QQML Conference in Florence, Italy and it was well received. In fact, one of the participants found it interesting and as a result of that I was invited by Masaryk’s University in Brno, Czech Republic to facilitate a day-long workshop on safety and security in libraries this year in February, right before the COVID-19 pandemic. The Faculty of Philosophy at Masaryk’s University hosted a three-day long Social Inclusion in Libraries Conference. This was my first time presenting on a library topic in Czech. What a great experience this was. The audience included library leaders from across the country, and one library colleague from Slovakia. The conference was free for all library staff and featured innovative projects, interesting speakers and more. I was especially impressed with the library students who were hosting this conference, fresh perspective and dedication is what really stood out to me.

Ray: You are a Fulbright Scholar, congratulations! What is your project focused on?

Jana: Thank you! Yes, I was granted a status of a Fulbright Specialist this year. However, the program is currently on hold due to COVID-19. As soon as it is re-instated, I will be working with a medical library in Prague on a project and a series of lectures about libraries and librarians during the times of pandemic. What we want to look at is how libraries in US and other countries responded and how library profession contributed to the community during the time of pandemic and what we can learn from that. This assignment will be sponsored by the library of Psychiatrická nemocnice Bohnice. The library supports medical research and provides services to the patients. The institution has a reputation for sponsoring and organizing many cultural programs and art-oriented festivals for public. The library, among other things, is known for its bibliotherapy program. I am really looking forward to this partnership.

Ray: What’s your advice for library workers interested in getting involved in international library work? What do you recommend?

Jana: I met so many great library colleagues at conferences. Get involved with your professional organizations, join ALA IRRT (we are currently looking for people to serve in several  IRRT leadership roles), go to ALA, IFLA conferences, look to see what other libraries in the world are doing. Look at other graduate Library Programs around the world, what are they working on? Talk to your colleagues abroad, find out where the need is or a potential for cooperation and research the opportunities. Volunteer for United Nations, apply with Peace Corps, talk to libraries where you would like to intern and network at the upcoming IFLA WLIC in Rotterdam. And…did I mention, join ALA IRRT and get to know your international colleagues?

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Jana de Brauwere: Drawing upon sixteen years of experience in urban public libraries serving in a variety of roles and currently responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by stepping into a team lead position for San Francisco Department of Public Health to help advance the contact tracing efforts, Jana has been dedicated to serving language diverse communities of San Francisco Bay Area. Pre- COVID-19 Jana was a Program Manager in Business, Science and Technology department in the San Francisco Public Library.

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