Kosovo interns train at Frost Library

During their time here, Rama and Sallauka will learn the fundamentals of librarianship, from new technologies to policies and procedures so that they can bring these skills back to the library at the University of Pristina in Kosovo. Both Rama and Sullaka are thrilled about their extended stay in Amherst; it is their first time ever visiting the United States.

Before arriving in Massachusetts, both Rama and Sallauka were living in Pristina, Kosovo. Rama worked at the University of Pristina’s library between 2000 and 2004, while still a student there. She knew that she wanted to work after graduating from the University; however, she had never pictured herself as a full-time librarian.

Rama admitted that she has grown to admire and respect her profession. “This field becomes more and more specific every day,” she said. “It is very special to me. I’m working for myself, not just to complete my job. I’m very impressed by this profession.”

Sallauka worked in the English department library at the University of Pristina for four years as a volunteer before coming to Amherst.

According to both Rama and Sallauka, the policies, technologies and procedures in Kosovo libraries are extremely different from those in the U.S. Rama explained why Kosovo lacks certain resources. “There is a bad background in my country due to the war,” she said. “Everything was destroyed from 1990 through 1999. Because of the war, many individuals lost access to libraries, because many [libraries] were destroyed. After the war, we did not find a system that worked in libraries, so we had to start everything from scratch in the year 2000.”

Sallauka pointed out that the library systems in each country are so vastly different that they cannot be compared fairly. “There are practically no similarities between the library policies in Kosovo and the system here in the U.S.,” he said. “The libraries in the U.S. are ‘digital’ and everything is electronic. You can also gain remote access from your home. This technology becomes very helpful for students. In [Kosovo], these possibilities do not exist.”

This internship has allowed both Rama and Sallauka a valuable opportunity to experience American culture firsthand. “Before even coming to America, I felt like I was experiencing American culture by working with an American intern director for nine months in Pristina,” said Rama.

Rama has been pleasantly surprised with the hospitality of the Amherst community. “The students are very supportive,” she said. “The staff provides me with books if I need help finding them. They are always ready to help.”

Rama also commented that the student-professor relationships at the College seem quite unique. “The teachers and students at Amherst, especially, get along and seem to have friendly relationships,” she said.

Sallauka provided his opinions concerning his profession and experience at Amherst so far, “[Being a librarian] is very good job. It is also a good experience to work and study here,” he said. “We have visited a lot of libraries in the area. It is very exciting. All the libraries in the area seem to have good relationships with each other. They are all connected in some way.”

So far Rama and Sallauka have taken three library courses in the area: two at Mt. Holyoke College and one at Simmons College in Boston. At Mt. Holyoke they studied reference and collection development, and at Simmons they took a course in management.

Sallauka and Rama also discussed their future goals, describing what they hope to bring back to library policies, technologies and procedures in Kosovo. Rama explained that the National and University Library of Kosova currently houses two libraries in one.

Rama and Sallauka plan to work to divide the libraries and to create a new university library. “We want to try to do everything we can to share what we have learned in the U.S. with Kosovo,” said Sallauka.

New technology at the University of Pristina’s library is already underway. Upon return, Sallauka and Rama will find a few changes to the libraries in Kosovo. A new Library Automation System (an electronic system) is currently being developed there.

Once they return home, Rama and Sullauka will be busy sharing their newfound knowledge with other libraries in the area. “When we go back to Kosovo, we may want to organize some seminars or presentations not only at our library, but for all libraries­-at both public libraries and the university library,” she said. “These presentations and workshops will enable us to share what we learned here.”

Sallauka and Rama will be working hard for the remainder of their stay. “We are very busy with this internship -our work, homework and library informational meetings are all part of the experience,” Sallauka said.