Some reflections from Lund University, Sweden

The SU delegation at the entrance of the LU External Relations office

The Lund-Stellenbosch Professional Administrative Support Staff (PASS) Blended Mobility Programme is a comprehensive programme over some months that comprises not only site visits to the two universities but also several online and in person presentations. Topics of these sessions include South African and Swedish history and cultures, internationalisation, equality, intercultural competencies, and communication. As one of the ten Stellenbosch University (SU) participants in the programme, I visited Lund University (LU), Sweden from 11-15 September 2023.

Lund University Library, built in 1668

Two of the five days I spent divided between the LU Library and the Social Sciences Library, two of the 26 libraries serving their 8 000 employees and 45 000 students. In line with their open access and open science focus, their eight developers mainly support open-source systems. They have reorganised their library staff responsible for e-resource management, open access, open science and research support into one Scholarly Communication department. Transformative agreements with publishers and open science are addressed not from a research support perspective but strategically with conversations with the library and other role players at university level. There are as many similarities as differences between the LU and SU libraries, and we share many of the same challenges. The SU Library and Information Service compares well internationally and in some cases is ahead.

Some colleagues from the LU Library that I met with: Natasja Malherbe with Linnéa Stenson (host), Johanna Tagesson and Anna-Lena Johansson
Excavations at the Uppakra Archaeologica Centre

One of the many highlights of the trip was a visit to the Uppakra Archaeologica Centre, two kilometres north of Lund. Now farmland, the forty hectares used to be the largest and longest lasting Iron Age settlement (c100 B.C. and 1000 A.D.). From 1996 it became a focus for archaeological research and LU researchers are hard at work on site, working through cultural layers several metres thick to uncover traces of the earlier inhabitants. My general impressions of the Swedes are that they are honest, open, willing to share and very hospitable. They cycle and recycle on a large scale. They are law abiding with a focus on efficiency. I learnt that cyclists ringing bicycle bells behind you as a warning and reminder to stay on the right, out of their way, can be just as daunting as taxis hooting.

We are looking forward to hosting the ten LU participants in Stellenbosch from 13-17 November. Thank you to my fellow SU delegates for the opportunity to get to know you and learn about your areas of work and expertise. Thank you to SU International, Human Resources and the Library’s Senior Management for the chance to travel, experience a different culture, make contacts and build relationships, learn, benchmark, and apply what I have learned in my personal and professional capacity.

The SU delegation with some of the LU colleagues
On a visit to the LU Botanical Garden


Natasja Malherbe

 Photographs: Provided by Natasja Malherbe