dear european union,
a week ago i visited a university in a “foreign” but european country. one would think that being a citizen of the european union and a student myself it would be a piece of cake to enter a library in another country. it is true, it is not a race on rough roads either to get in, but the fact remains that it is more complicated than crossing an eu-border.
this experience got me thinking and i would like to propose an idea: my suggestion is to develop more than a shared market space and the freedom of movement of people, goods, and services and create a freedom of movement for knowledge. it is not necessary to fuse the different universities together into one european-union-college, but it would be preferable if students would be able to have access to libraries wherever they go, simply by being a student within the european union.
one may argue, that the reason for leaving the system the way it is right now is the problem of lending books. pardon my saying so, but that is a cheap excuse. students can already lend books from all across the world with simply paying a little extra to cover the expenses of delivery. so what difference does it make whether i order a book from aberdeen while sitting in paris, or whether i happen to visit aberdeen, lend a book, and send it back from paris again? if one interlinks the computer systems of libraries all across the european union, one would know if a foreign student would lend a book and there would be no hindrance to be in direct contact with the concerning university this student attends and make sure the material gets back safe and sound.
another argument i already hear people say is about all the books that would be gone from the library if foreign students could just take them home with them. the thing is: a) students in the home town also lend books so that they are not “present at the library” anymore for some time. if foreign students and home-town-students have the same time limit, i do not see a difference between the book being in city a or city b for that time frame. and b) there is not that many students that travel and attend libraries at different universities anyways – yet that does not mean, that the idea is not necessary to be considered, for it “would only apply to a small amount of people”.
freedom of the movement of knowledge is more than a mere causality. it is a symbol to the intellectual, unified power of students all over the european union. students are the future leaders of this world. let them grow in the spirit of crossing borders of nations, states, and knowledge.