Job Swaps and Library Exchanges – 2013 update

This article updates a 2006 article.

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:

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.

In my research I found two that looked interesting.

The NELLCO (New England Law Library Consortium) International Fellows Program will provide opportunities for member law librarians in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong to exchange information and share knowledge, and, this is big, funding is available.

Also, the Visiting Fellowship in Law Librarianship at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies at the University of London is prepared to consider applications in respect of any area of law librarianship. It welcomes projects which consider legal materials from the Commonwealth and the United States. Work periods are flexible with most between 2 to 6 months.


Consider Librarians Without Borders, a non-profit organization which strives to form partnerships with community organizations in developing regions. Guatemala and Ghana were top of list destinations at time of writing. In 2012 stipend money was available – so best to check regularly!

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. You can try any number of the house swap sites on the web. Some enable you to search keywords by profession. Or, try a specialized site such as Sabbatical Homes. Searching on term “librarian” may turn up like-minded souls.

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 explore a new country and meet new colleagues!


Job Exchanges/Swaps

ALA – Joint Committee on International Exchanges

AALL – Clearinghouse for Internships & International Personnel Exchanges

LIBEX – (Bureau for International Library Staff Exchange)

CILIP Hosts Directory

University of Toronto – International and Community Outreach Coordinating Group

Bibliothek & Information International (BI-International)


NELLCO ((New England Law Library Consortium) International Fellows Program

Institute of Advanced Legal Studies – University of London


Librarians Without Borders

House Swaps

Sabbatical Homes

Further Reading

American Library Association. 2007. International Job Exchange: Bibliography. (Accessed 24 May 2013)

Aznar, D., & Jost, R. 2010. Tale of Two Law Libraries, A. AALL Spectrum. 15: 20.

Ball, K. 2003. From Canada To Australia: Arranging a Library Work Exchange.

(Accessed 24 May 2013)

Crosby, Connie. February 15, 2006. The Tao of Law Librarianship: Do-It-Yourself Professional Development, Part II., 15 February 2006. // (accessed 23 May 2013)

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.

Knock, D. 2013. Letter from the CILIP International Library and Information Group: International Librarians’ Hosts Directory. Library Juice, 24 April 2013. (accessed 24 May 2013)

Wilson, A. 2007. Report on a two week visit to academic libraries in and around Berlin. (accessed 24 May 2013)

Posted in: Communication Skills, Features, Job Hunting, Libraries & Librarians, Recruiting