Since its founding in 1902, Simmons SLIS has trained more than 600 international students from more than 80 countries around the world. Approximately 30 international students representing nearly as many countries study at SLIS each year. At the same time, SLIS students, faculty and staff travel around the globe on a variety of global initiatives; many of their experiences are chronicled in SLIS's "Dispatches from the Field" blog.

Many of our international alumni have become major leaders in library and information science. Some even have been cultural pioneers, founding the first libraries and library schools in their countries, or establishing important professional organizations. All have furthered international librarianship and been agents of change.

To learn more about study abroad, click here for an Information Session Podcast.

Some of our most recent initiatives:

Korea | Rome | Nicaragua | Vietnam | Iraq | Kosovo


SLIS has developed a partnership with Yonsei University in South Korea to allow students from both universities the opportunity to experience librarianship overseas and to encourage faculty collaboration and exchange. In the first official act of the partnership, SLIS Visiting Professor Ross Harvey taught an intensive course on digital preservation at Yonsei in August 2008.

In August 2009, the first group of SLIS students will journey to Seoul for a two week travel course. The course will be team-taught by SLIS Adjunct Professor Claudia Morner and a faculty member from Yonsei. Students from Yonsei will also participate in the class, giving students an opportunity to connect with their international colleagues. Site visits to national, public, and academic libraries have been built into the course. We hope that this will be the first of many student exchanges.

In September 2009, the first Yonsei students came to Boston to study at Simmons College, as part of the dual degree program between Simmons SLIS and Yonsei-LIS. This program is also open to SLIS students interested in studying in Korea. Graduates of this program will earn two library science degrees; a Master's of Science in Library Science from Simmons, and a Master's of Arts in Library Science from Yonsei.

Then-SLIS Dean Michèle Cloonan and Dr. Jee Yeon Lee, director of the LIS program at Yonsei, first discussed the possibility of a partnership during the 2006 IFLA conference in Seoul. Since they, they have worked together to build the partnership between the two colleges.

"Yonsei is the best LIS program in Korea. Our faculties and programs complement each other, so we were look at ways in which students from each school could take courses on each others' campuses. We also hope that our faculty will continue to find ways to collaborate," said Cloonan.

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St. John's University Division of Library & Information Science teams up with Simmons College's Graduate School of Library & Information Science to offer exciting courses open to students from all LIS programs. Starting Summer 2013, we offer courses by both Simmons and St. John's faculty at St. John's campus in Rome, Italy.

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Beginning in August 2005, then-Assistant Dean Denise Davis LS'99 and SLIS students have regularly traveled to San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua to volunteer at the San Juan del Sur Biblioteca Movil. Jane Mirandette formed this lending library in 2001, hoping to provide unprecedented access to books for this small community; she is now working towards the establishment of a national system of lending libraries in Nicaragua. Simmons volunteers have delivered books to outlying villages, trained library staff, and translated library policies into Spanish.

The program set in motion by Denise Davis is now enthusiastically maintained by the SLIS student group Simmons International Relations (SIR). In addition to coordinating the annual visits, SIR organizes fundraisers to benefit the library, and recently worked with then-Dean Cloonan to develop a scholarship for a SLIS student to volunteer in Nicaragua. Stephanie Donohue, the first Nicaragua scholarship recipient, traveled to San Juan del Sur in January 2009; she blogged about her experiences on the Dispatches from the Field blog.

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In October of 2005, Simmons College received a $1.8 million grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies to train a new generation of Vietnamese librarians for leadership roles. Professor Pat Oyler, who oversees the grant, has been working with Vietnamese librarians for over 12 years.

Students spend a semester taking core SLIS classes, visit the Library of Congress, attend the ALA Midwinter Meeting, and spend time at the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Simmons-educated librarians now fill influential positions at libraries across Vietnam. Among the graduates are the deputy director of the National Library, and the director of the General Science Library in Ho Chi Minh City.

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Simmons College has been working with Iraqi librarians and library science educators since 2005 when Simmons SLIS and Harvard University received a National Endowment for the Humanities grant as part of the NEH initiative to Preserve and Document Iraq's Cultural Heritage. The purpose of the grant was to provide training for Iraqi librarians and archivists that would allow them to modernize Iraq's libraries.

The training sessions were organized in two-week blocks in the summers of 2005 and 2006. Each summer, thirty Iraqi librarians met Simmons faculty and Harvard librarians for intensive training sessions on topics ranging from digital libraries to preservation and archives. The first session was held in Amman, Jordan in collaboration with the American Center on Oriental Research, and the second session was hosted by the University of Al Ain in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE trip included site visits to area academic and public libraries, which gave the Iraqis an opportunity to see successful, thriving institutions.

In 2007, Harvey Varnet '71LS secured funding from the U.S. Department of State to run a third training session for Iraqi librarians, this time specifically for LIS educators. In November of 2007, ten Iraqi library science professors travelled to Amman, Jordan, and participated in a week-long workshop on management and curriculum development led by then-Dean Cloonan and Dr. Varnet.

Our commitment to librarians in Iraq endures in a new form: in December 2007 two Iraqi librarians entered our Ph.D. program.

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In fall of 2005, the Institute for Training and Development (ITD) and Simmons College SLIS jointly conducted a 17-week training and academic program for nine Kosovars employed at the National and University Library of Kosovo. Training was held at the SLIS West campus and consisted of coursework in core library science topics and internships at university libraries.

Assistant Dean Terry Plum has visited the library in Pristina on numerous occasions to provide additional training and on-site support. During the summer of 2006 he brought a team of American librarians to Pristina to assist with the set-up and organization of the new university library space, and in January of 2007 Plum returned to Pristina with a reserves specialist to help organize the academic reserves system.

All of the Kosovar participants' expenses and the follow up visits by Assistant Dean Plum were paid for by a grant from the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

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