Chemnitz-Ústí nad Labem City Sisterhood Library Partnership

A simple meeting in Leipzig has grown and expanded into a cross-border network of projects and friendship

Corinna Meinel of the Chemnitz City Library and Ani Petrak of the Ústí Regional Library quickly drew other likeminded colleagues into the party – Julia Trillhof, Katrin Kropf, Jana Fiedlerová, and Denisa Szaffnerová – and the games began!

Where there are shared spaces and shared stories, humans are compelled to share these stories with each other, and this is the case here, with us. Throughout the former Sudetenlands, while we are now different countries speaking different languages, who do not always see things the same way, there is much we share. We all love the recipes from our mothers‘ and grandmothers‘ kitchens, the woods and hills and rocks and meadows of our homeland, the exciting adventures and heartwarming stories that our writers share with us.

In the regions of Saxony and Ústí nad Labem, we are proud of our home, our identity, and what has brought us to where we are today. When we are proud of something, we want to display it and share it with our neighbors. The Partnership in Dialogue collaboration between Chemnitz and Ústí has allowed us to do just that.

In just a year, we have had two in-person library strategic planning meetings, in which we were able to inspire each other with our library spaces and staff, as well as share plans and visions for shared projects. The first successful project was an exchange of two library employees. In October 2023, two librarians from Chemnitz came to Ústí to help with foreign language programming in different library departments, and to get to know the library better. A couple of months later, in January 2024, two librarians from Ústí had the same privilege in Chemnitz, leaving inspired by programming and use of spaces to attract diverse readership. In the meantime, there was another exciting project going on behind the scenes – preparations for a literature Exchange about our shared region.

On February 9th, the team from Chemnitz came to Ústí in order for us to Exchange the books which we had curated for each other. The books will be marked with a special logo for our cooperation, and a roll-up banner at each library will feature highlights of the partner library, to be on permanent display with the books.

What’s next for these books and the friendships they have formed? Keep following us to find out – we don’t want to spoil the surprise!

Ani Petrak, Ústí Regional Library

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