From Switzerland to Australia – How did I get here?

Mary Kajewski from the State Library of Queensland (SLQ) asked me to write a short article about how I went about getting an internship at SLQ.

As always, in the end it was not that difficult. Anyway, a few steps were needed. For me, in particular, to say “YES” I will do this, and convince myself was the most important step.

From the beginning it was clear I would go to Australia. Not only because of the beautiful scenery and beaches, particularly of the people and different cultures. In Europe Australia is also known as an innovative and extraordinary country for library development. An internship would be also a great chance for me to gain valuable experience whilst working in a library abroad. Beyond this I already know Australia from former visits and stays. 10 years ago I did an internship at the Town Hall Library in Sydney. To speak (I still have to improve my language skills) the language was another important reason. Especially on that I was attend to work within the library.

Important for me, was to find a library which is active in the same field like I am back home. The internship should broaden my horizons concerning the future of libraries and the role of library and information professionals. I am interested if the State Library addresses the same issues and the strategic planning to deal with future changes. Of particular interest for me, are the different political and cultural circumstance compared to Switzerland or Germany.

Basically, I like to exchange experiences, discuss the strategy and would appreciate the opportunity to get a detailed view of how the State Library develops and delivers library services. I also would like to be appointed to a position dealing with the daily work of the library colleagues.

So far, so good.  Now I had to find a library in Australia who offers me the possibility of an internship.

With the help of some good contacts I got the chance sending my CV to the State Library of Queensland. After a couple of weeks I got the commitment from Brisbane. Yeah. I was one step closer to my dreams.

Back home in Switzerland, I had to discuss a few times and convince my superiors my wish doing a 7 week traineeship. I did it but it wasn’t that easy. It is pretty unusual to take a break in our institution. Especially I had to show how I will organise my work while I am not at work. There is no replacement during I am away. For this reason, I had to do a lot of overtime and I had to spend my annual leave for this trip.

The internship is a program for librarian professionals partially sponsored by a Swiss library outfitter to cover travel and living expenses. The biggest part of financing is on my own. I am not getting paid from the State Library otherwise it would be difficult to get a visa for Australia.

All together it took me one and a half years from the first step saying “YES” until step into the State Library nearly two weeks ago. Besides this short time period “working” at the State Library of Queensland I could say the effort was worth and I already got some valuable experience. And of course I am looking forward to meeting a lot of other people and discover Brisbane!

Jasmin Leuze

Jasmin Leuze at SLQ

About the author:

Jasmin Leuze is Librarian and Senior Program Officer for Public Libraries at the Canton of Aargau in Switzerland.