Job Swaps and Library Exchanges

Katherine Thomas is a Law Librarian at a large financial institution in Toronto, Canada. She sits on the Editorial Board and is a regular contributor to the Toronto Association of Law Libraries Newsletter and was a member of the Program Committee for the 2005 Canadian Association of Law Libraries Annual Conference. She can be reached by contacting Katie DOT Thomas (AT) bmo DOT com

Midlife Crisis? Becoming complacent in your job? Looking for a busperson’s holiday? Sounds like you need to do a Library Exchange!!

Start by considering the following questions….

1. Where do you want to travel?
2. Do you speak a second, third or fourth language?
3. Will you need housing?
4. Do you need to be paid while away?
5. How long do you want to be away for?
6. Would you like to work in a similar library as at home?
7. Do you get homesick?

…and these websites:

AALL – Clearinghouse for Internships & International Personnel Exchanges – Sponsored by the Foreign, Comparative & International Law Special Interest Section
The AALL clearinghouse aims to facilitate exchanges and visits with law librarians from around the world. The positions offered varied from a one day stint at Shearman & Sterling in New York to a position at the Law Courts Library in Sydney, Australia. Other potential destinations included Portugal, Peru and France.

LIBEX – (Bureau for International Library Staff Exchange) – based in the UK and hosted on the CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals)
LIBEX is not specifically geared towards law librarians. However, don’t let that deter you. After all, this is a temporary experience to broaden your horizons. The site is updated regularly and it has a good selection of jobs/exchanges from around the world. You need to register to see the exchange listings (FREE if you are not based in the UK).

ALA – Joint Committee on International Exchanges – International Relations Round Table (IRRT) – International Exchanges Committee
This site has a wealth of information and would be a good place to start your research. The Committee’s purpose is to promote and disseminate information about international visits and exchanges – and it does a great job. Plenty of links to job bulletin boards, foundations and funding sources. The jobs/swaps are not all law library related.

Conveniently, these organizations act as clearinghouses for library and information staff interested in arranging job exchanges with like-minded professionals in other countries.
Their services are free. In general, these groups do not arrange the exchanges themselves – this is done directly by the applicants.

However, they will gladly answer any of your questions or put you in touch with experienced ‘exchangees’. In fact, in the midst of writing this article I became a little sidetracked with all the potential offerings! Also, I was very impressed at the speed of response to my queries.

Visiting Fellowships

Although not job exchanges as such, fellowship opportunities may help to sate the wanderlust and research craving in you while working in a foreign land. It is best to query your local University to see what arrangements they may have with overseas institutions. Also, the ALA website has lots of info on this.

One Fellowship that looked interesting is the Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at the University of London. The Institute is prepared to consider applications in respect of any area of law librarianship. It welcomes – of particular interest to Canadian law librarians – projects which relate to the continuing development of its collections in regard to legal materials from jurisdictions in the Commonwealth and the United States. Work periods should be longer than 3 months.

Home Swaps

Do you have an idea about where you want to travel but no exchange prospects (as yet)? Consider, as an interim measure, a home/apartment swap. I have provided below a listing of what appear to be some popular ‘Home Swap’ companies. They all provide a customized listing and search facility so you can swap with like minded professionals. Of course, you would need to grill the ‘swapee’ to determine if they wanted to swap jobs too. As a test, I did a quick search on one company’s site and found a number of librarians in the US and Australia who were looking for potential house exchanges. The more established Home Swap companies charge registration fees of between $100 -200.

Homelink International

Intervac Canada

For more Home Exchange Clubs visit:

So start you research now. Whichever way you go about arranging an exchange/swap it is guaranteed to be an amazing experience – not the least because you have managed to escape a Canadian winter!


Job Exchanges/Swaps

AALL – Clearinghouse for Internships & International Personnel Exchanges

LIBEX – (Bureau for International Library Staff Exchange)

ALA – Joint Committee on International Exchanges

Fellowship – Institute of Advanced Legal Studies – University of London

Homelink International

Intervac Canada

For more Home Exchange Clubs visit

Further Reading

Ball, K. 2003. From Canada To Australia: Arranging a Library Work Exchange. Posted at: CILIP website.
(Accessed 20 January 2006)

American Library Association. 2004. International Job Exchange: Bibliography.
(Accessed 20 January 2006)

Jannetta, V. 1997. Trading Places: Library Placement and Exchange Schemes. The Law Librarian 28:70-2.

Kidd, T and Karen Lawson. 1994. International staff exchanges for academic libraries.
The Journal of Academic Librarianship 20: 295-299.

Northey, Dennis W. A. 1987. Experiences of an exchanged librarian. Singapore Libraries 17: 73-76.

Ober, J. 1995. International Relations Office. ALA. Checklist for Preparing for International Travel and Exchanges.
(Accessed 20 January 2006)

Thomas, K. 2005. Job Swaps And Library Exchanges. Posted at:
(Accessed 20 January 2006)

Crosby, Connie. February 15, 2006. The Tao of Law Librarianship: Do-It-Yourself Professional Development, Part II.

Posted in: Job Hunting, Law Librarians, Libraries & Librarians