Erica Burnham has been a crucial figure in the ULIP community since she joined the Institute as Librarian in January 2011. Erica is moving to Indonesia this summer and has taken this opportunity to reflect on her time at ULIP. She will be bitterly missed by students and staff alike, mais ce n’est qu’un au revoir!
It seems that ULIP is always in the middle of a great change; that our intimate, beautiful building is in continual transformation, yet there have been some constants in my eight years here. One is the intrepid students who make the brave choice to live and study in Paris. Those who know me and spend their time/live in the library know that I treasure the quest for the perfect article or book that leads the reader down a fascinating path through its bibliography and sparks a great question. I love hearing from students who venture out and discover the beautiful, rich libraries Paris has to offer when we don’t have what they need (I also like a bit of gossip, truth be told). Alongside students, I’ve had the distinct joy of learning a little bit about the history of the Jews in the Middle Ages, the Paris Colonial Exposition and the changing role of women in French politics. At the end of each academic year, I celebrate our graduating students with the library cocktail party, which includes a standing invitation to come back and visit.
The other constant is the academic and administrative staff at ULIP. We are a formidable team of whip-smart lecturers and dedicated administrators. We try to solve all the problems and overcome all the obstacles. We conspire to make everyone feel like they belong at ULIP and we endeavor to answer every question. We know that education is crucial and that the humanities offer a critical world-view. We champion language learning and know that stepping outside our comfort zone is challenging but offers great rewards. We know what tenacity is. We recognise that we have the privilege to research and work in a great multi-cultural city.
I have been a medical librarian in the United States, an agricultural and environmental sciences librarian in Canada and a humanities and social sciences librarian in France. Now I leave ULIP to explore Indonesia and know that in my absence, the university will continue to surprise and evolve. I will miss you all and trust that the library will remain the heart of the place. Books are just the beginning!