Cultural inclusivity project launched by the ELTE University Library

Cultural inclusivity project launched by the ELTE University Library HU
The concept of the Book of Your Life aiming to support the integration of international students arriving at ELTE has been selected as one of the best by the jury of the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) The Amsterdam-based foundation and its partners are supporting the project of the ELTE University Library and Archives with EUR 10,000 – the highest available grant awarded in the call.

The annual European Challenge programme unites European libraries and their communities to jointly develop creative solutions for addressing various challenges facing Europe, such as social exclusion, inequality, disinformation, and the climate crisis. In each case, the respective libraries respond to the problems raised by the local community. They not only receive financial support for the implementation of their programmes but their representatives can also participate in the related mentoring programme for skill and knowledge development.

Based on the jury’s decision, in the third round of the programme launched in the autumn of 2023, Eötvös Loránd University has been the only successful applicant from Hungary in recent years. The objective of the ELTE project entitled Book of Your Life (BOYL) is to enhance acceptance and tolerance, promote the cultural inclusion of international students, and develop the services offered by the University Library and Archives based on the students’ needs. Along these lines, a student community space is expected to be established in the library building on Ferenciek Square.

In the first phase of the programme, international and domestic students will be thinking together about what kinds of activities would make their daily life easier in the library and the university environment. Additionally, the students can also take part in sustainability and art workshops. In line with the internationalisation strategy of ELTE,

the programme places great emphasis on enhancing students’ mental well-being and encouraging multicultural relationships:

from late spring 2024 onwards, multilingual thematic activities will be held for the students in the library, including a series of interactive lectures, book exchange, a book club, and pop-up exhibitions. The observations of the pilot project carried out with community participation will be widely shared by ELTE with its domestic and international partners.

Foreign students studying at ELTE are coming from over 100 countries, increasingly from global conflict zones. More than ten percent of the currently enrolled members of the University Library and Archives are international students. In a broader context, the project Book of Your Life, therefore, may also give an insight into how university libraries can become incentives and safe spaces for international cultural relations, and how they can call their members’ attention to the treasures of cultural heritage kept and maintained by the institutions.

The special feature of the European Challenge is that the winners join a pan-European network, within the framework of which the libraries can share their experiences with each other on a regular basis. In this year’s programme, 55 institutions have been selected from all over Europe and awarded over EUR 466,000 in total by the European Cultural Foundation and its partners.

At ELTE, the programme running from January to September 2024 is jointly implemented by the University Library and Archives, the University Students’ Union (EHÖK), the International Strategy Office, and the University Strategy Office. The project has been designed and launched in accordance with the CHARM-EU Inclusivity Plan.

For more information, see the website of the European Cultural Foundation.