We were fortunate to visit the University of Jordan this summer as part of a library project supporting joint and visiting PhD students. Funded through the Erasmus International Credit Mobility (ICM) scheme and organised through the International Research Office, a small group of library staff: the University Librarian, Kate Robinson; Subject Librarian, Karina Bradshaw and Information Librarians, Tamsin Reilly and Megyn Luscott made the trip.
Why we went
Universities have different approaches to supporting PhD students. The services and resources they offer can vary or be described in different ways and located in different places. The one thing that is a common and understandable entity to all institutions, however, is the Library!
Our Library is currently collaborating with Stellenbosch University Library to produce a mapping tool to help “translate” available cross-institutional support, with a view to developing a best-practice tool that will be re-usable with other partner institutions. We think that this will also act as a useful aide for all services seeking to support internationally mobile and international students or researchers.
We were keen to visit an international university as a test bed for the project and were thrilled when an opportunity to visit the University of Jordan in Amman became available.
What we did
We visited the University of Jordan a number of times, meeting an array of people from the Library, the International Office and academics from the School of Pharmacy who had gained their PhDs at the University of Bath.
It was a wonderful experience getting to meet and know the people there, in particular Ghadeer and Dina the alumni from Bath, who were so welcoming and a fount of knowledge. Each time we met new areas of interest were highlighted and explored, providing us with a rich bank of knowledge to apply to our research project.
We were also fortunate that, as the evenings in Jordan are cooler, many of the tourist attractions stay open late. This was an opportunity to explore the wonders Jordan has on offer and to give a cultural insight into the differences that a student would experience coming from Jordan to study in the UK.
The streets of Amman at night, full of people and beauty
Some of the places we visited while there included the Temple of Hercules, Mount Nebo, Roman amphitheatres and Jerash:
What we learned
The University of Jordan Library was a good space for studying, full of the hustle and bustle of students, with some similarities to our own library but also notable differences. In particular, we were struck by their larger reliance on print resources and their in-house binding service (with talented library staff who hand-scribed all the newly bounded copies). We visited all the services at the Library from Archives and Cataloguing, to Assistive Technology support and much more. It was a joy to meet our fellow library colleagues and discuss academic library services with them in relation to our research.
The front of the library, with students working in the shade of it
Speaking to academics from the University of Jordan helped us gain an understanding of the needs and expectations of postgraduate researchers, and gave an insight into the services and support that are available to them. We were able to compare and contrast provision in the University of Jordan with that in Bath, discovering where services and support for postgraduate researchers dovetail, and where there are differences.
We saw how processes are run at the University of Jordan, in comparison to how we execute similar services. We were also keen to get a handle on the terminology used the University of Jordan with a view to unpicking where similar support existed but was perhaps expressed differently. Discussing services for postgraduate researchers with our hosts allowed us to talk through these differences and to better understand where provision in Jordan matched that available in Bath. The information they shared was invaluable, particularly given their own perspective as ex-Bath students.
We can now envision how to best create a tool that will allow researchers working with both institutions to easily locate and access the support they expect and need, to overcome problems seemingly inherent in navigating two separate institutions both physically and online.
We were pleased to extend the links the University has already made and further consolidate relationships between our institutions. We learned a great deal from our visit to Jordan and from our time with the wonderful people there. The experience enriched our research project beyond our expectations, with many thanks to the University of Jordan staff.
If you are interested in learning more about our project, please get in touch through firstname.lastname@example.org