My Una Story - Päivi Helminen

Päivi Helminen recounts their captivating journey as a professional staff within the Una Europa.

Päivi Helminen serves as the team leader of the pedagogical team at Helsinki University Library, where her expertise is pivotal in various aspects of library operations.

As an active participant in Una Europa, Päivi tells about her experience gained through engaging in the job shadowing staff exchange Live my Life program in Paris. Additionally, she has made significant contributions to the development and ongoing work of the LibraryLab initiative within Una Europa. Päivi's involvement and dedication within the Una Europa network have greatly enriched her perspective and proficiency in her role at Helsinki University Library.


How did you first learn about Una Europa, and what drew your attention to the alliance?

I came across Una Europa when we were searching for partners for an Erasmus+ application. Anna Stina Sinisalo suggested that universities affiliated with Una Europa would make excellent partners for us. We found wonderful colleagues from Berlin and Paris. I believe that concrete shared tasks are crucial for successful collaboration. In the past, I've witnessed many collaborative ideas fail to materialize due to the lack of tangible joint action. While our Erasmus+ application didn't secure funding at that time, it was still rewarding to connect with new colleagues. Following that experience, it was a natural progression to participate in the Live My Life mobility program with the same individuals we had previously met online.

You took part in the Live My Life mobility program. Could you share your experience? Where did you go, and what did you learn?

I had the opportunity to visit Paris, where I learned a great deal from my French colleague, Anne Guichard-Cazenave. I gained valuable insights that we can incorporate into our teaching practices. However, what struck me most was the attitude of our French colleagues, which is difficult to put into words. I've noticed that I now possess a different and fresher perspective on my own work. Additionally, I acquired a wealth of knowledge about French culture and society. These aspects were somewhat foreign to me initially due to my limited knowledge of the French language. Nevertheless, I was thrilled to be able to communicate and understand a little bit of French during my time in Paris. I wholeheartedly recommend the Live My Life mobility program.

In your opinion, what has been the most rewarding aspect of participating in Una Europa? How has it benefitted your work or the university as a whole?

The most rewarding aspect has been the opportunity to meet new colleagues, as it invigorates and inspires us. As we familiarize ourselves with other Una Europa libraries, we can enhance the services we provide to international students and staff members who come to Helsinki. Collaborating with our local Una Europa staff has been truly inspiring. We have jointly organized student events in collaboration with Stinne Vognæs at the Guidance Corner.

I have also been involved in the Una Europa Future LibraryLab cooperation. Although the cooperation has been on hold for the past two years, we have been discussing low-threshold activities. We hope to involve colleagues from various roles within the libraries.

Looking ahead, I am excited about future collaborations with Una Europa!