Helsinki, Finland - December 09, 2017: People in the Helsinki University Library. It is the largest multidisciplinary university library in Finland

Corinna matches with Anne and Aleksandra with Cosima. And now they are all together in Helsinki – in the University Library. That’s what the four librarians tell us in a podcast from Freie Universität Berlin. “The face-to-face meeting helps a lot to advance the International Library Lab,” says the Finnish hostess.

It is about the job-sharing program “Live my life” managed by the FU as part of the university alliance Una Europa, which has been funded by the EU Commission since 2019.

The FU Berlin acquired the Allianz project 2019 with ten other universities in Bologna, Edinburgh, Helsinki, Kraków, Leuven, Madrid, Paris, Leiden, Dublin and Zurich. Una Europa has now received 14.4 million euros from Brussels to implement the Una.Universitas concept, which has been financed for four years after the pilot phase.

A “transnational, comprehensive cooperation in education, research and innovation” is planned. The collaboration will focus on European studies, cultural heritage, sustainability, data science and health – the latter under the title “One Health”.

The first “Una Europa One Health Summer School” is currently running at the University of Edinburgh, where students spend two weeks exchanging views on the interaction between health in humans, animals and the environment.

In addition to student exchanges – also on the OpenU platform and through international internships – PhD workshops are offered for doctoral candidates, for which joint degrees from the participating universities are being developed. This also applies to a Joint Bachelor in European Studies. Scientists can apply for start-up funding for cooperative research projects on the topics of the alliance.

Further training certificates in data science and artificial intelligence are also offered, and Freie Universität reports that it has already been possible to use infrastructure together. Thanks to initial successes in innovative education, research and international exchange, the association ideally embodies European values, explains Verena Blechinger-Talcott, FU Vice President for International Affairs.

The four librarians took part in the pilot round for cooperation and exchange between university administrations. Job sharing means visiting colleagues for a week and accompanying them in their everyday work. The program aims to promote multilingualism among university employees.

Although everyone has learned English at some point, many have had little opportunity to practice it, just like other European foreign languages. In addition, it is always helpful to take a different perspective on your own job, says a participant from the University of Bologna in the FU podcast: “If you think you already know everything about your job and the university – that’s just not true, if you share with others.”

In the University Library of Helsinki, the exchange partners who came together through the FU’s matching service are happy to meet in person after the numerous online conferences during the corona-related lockdowns – and in such a forward-looking place.

“What is impressive is the openness of the architecture, you can look straight into the manager’s office and there is even a kitchen for the users,” says the FU librarian. “Everything here is designed for users, so useful, practical and modern,” adds her colleague from Kraków.

The aim of the EU program “European Universities” is to strengthen the higher education area in international competition through networks. New European universities to be founded should not be created. But maybe a library of the future after all? If there is such a house by Una Europa, it should be based on the Finnish model, the International Library Lab agrees.