Open letter of thanks to Suna Kıraç Library from Kristiania Library

To:         Tuba Akbaytürk, Library Director Suna Kıraç Library, Istanbul, Turkey

From:    Mari Eeg, Head of the Libraries, Kristiania University College, Oslo, Norway

On behalf of Kristiania University College I want to extend our heartfelt thanks to you and all those from Suna Kıraç Library who participated in hosting us for a most amazing Erasmus program last month.   It was 4 full and perfectly coordinated days of professional exchange and experiences of Koç University, its library resources & initiatives, as well as the amazing city of Istanbul: its history, culture, food, and beauty.  

The professional program took place on the Koç University; main campus outside the city and at Anamed Library in the city center.  It was more than we could have hoped for; with presentations from all aspects of the Suna Kıraç Library.  And there was time as well for an exchange of our approaches to the international challenges we face as academic librarians in 2022.   We learned about the impressive Koç University Library resources and services and how they fit into Suna Kıraç Library philosophy and methods.  All of this is in the Koç University context of a relatively young, robust, private university; and in this regard, we discovered similar challenges and advantages.

On Campus: a break in the presentations

Naz Özkan relayed their strategy for fostering learning and engagement through programs and spaces, both digital and physical.   Ebru Yurtkoruyan went through the myriad ways that Suna Kıraç Library users are receiving reference and research help on digital platforms.  Hearing how they organize this work internally and how individual librarians experience it was especially useful for us.

Çiğdem Yıldırım shared the process of establishing a research data depository. A flow chart showing the library’s involvement in a coordinated effort across departments was particularly helpful for us to see.  İrem Ünal gave us a tour of the Koç university’s Anamed Library in the city center.    

İrem Ünal tells us about the history of Koç University’s Anamed Library

Proudly receiving our program diplomas from Tuba Akbaytürk (Library Director) and Çiğdem Yıldırım (Head of Anamed Library)

And those are just highlights of the professional program selected by our staff.  There were also presentations about Researcher Support, Archives, Campus Engagement Activities, Open Access and Bibliometric analyses, Digital Libraries.  And of course, we were all very inspired by the presentation of Dr. Zehra Taşkın, a celebrated young assistant professor and co-founder of Scholarly Communication Network. With her research focus on scholarly communication, Dr. Taşkın shared her ideas on the role of librarians in responsibly evaluating research.

The professional program described above was interspersed along the way with cultural activities and opportunities to get to know the librarians at their favorite local spots with lively conversation and an abundance of delicious traditional food and drink.

The first evening we visited the Sadberk Hanım Museum and experienced their collections of antiquities and Ottoman material culture. Skilled guides brought the history in the collections to life and then we were spirited off on a ferry to the Asian side for a seaside dinner with the Suna Kıraç librarians; and, of course, some mischievous cats. 

Tour of Sadberk Hanım Museum’s exhibition of material culture from the Ottoman empire

Tour of Sadberk Hanım Museum’s antiquities from the region

We were treated to a dinner on Istanbul’s Asian side with the librarians.

Welcoming an unexpected dinner guest

The second day the professional program was broken up by a student tour of the beautiful Koç University campus in the hills outside Istanbul.  It was a struggle to decide what to eat with our meal ticket for the Campus’ extensive food court.  

Enjoying the peaceful Koç University Campus outside of bustling Istanbul

View from Koç Tower

The cultural program on the last two days highlighted Istanbul from both a modern and historical perspective: Ottoman Archives, Beyazıt State Library and Archive, and pearl of Istanbul, the historical peninsula and a tour of the Topkapı Sarayı.

Guided tour of Topkapı Palace

Special viewing of the treasures of the Beyazıt State Library and Archive

Our last day super hosts Naz Özkan and Mustafa Ergül took the gang out for the best coffee in Istanbul on our way to the Beyazıt archives and library.

As librarians at a university college in a Nordic country, it is easy to isolate in the culture and framework of higher education in Scandinavia. Especially after the Covid restrictions, we needed to lift our sights and actively seek exchange with other regions of the world and Europe.

The reception from Tuba and her staff exceeded all our expectations.  There are just too many experiences and people to mention them all here.  These 4 days were not only priceless for our professional development.  We also had great fun with smart and friendly colleagues who gave us an unforgettably rich experience of Istanbul.   

Again, on behalf of all of us at the Kristiania Libraries to the staff and librarians at Suna Kıraç Library,

Teşekkür ederim

Mari Eeg
Head of the Libraries at Kristiania University College
Oslo Norway

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