Global Study & Reflection: Libraries and Archives of Prague


Open to UNC and non-UNC students

Since 2002, SILS and Prague's Charles University have offered library students and professionals a chance to journey to the heart of the Czech Republic. Participants in this program will enjoy lectures and tours related to librarianship in a country that deals with a history of monarchy, empire, Communism, and the meeting of east and west. Participants experience firsthand how the democratization of the Czech Republic, formerly a communist state, has affected the accessibility of information, in both print and electronic forms. Students enrolled in a library science program can take the seminar for three (3) hours of graduate credit (more information below).  2020 participants will be accompanied by Dr. Joanne Gard Marshall. Joanne is a Distinguished Research Professor at SILS with an interest in health sciences libraries and information services. She came to SILS in 1999 as Dean and eventually returned to the faculty to continue her teaching and research. Joanne loves to travel and has been a strong supporter of the international programs at SILS. She also teaches yoga and tai chi on campus.  


Tour historic libraries, castles, and museums in Prague and the surrounding Czech countryside. Highlights include:

  • An introductory walking tour of Old Town, Charles Bridge and Wenceslas Square, and the Jewish Quarter
  • A boat cruise on the Vltava River
  • Visits to the Klementinum (National Library), Parliamentary Library, Libri Prohibiti, Municipal Library of Prague, Nostic Palace and its library, Strahov Monastery and its libraries, and several regional libraries 
  • Day trip to the town of Kroměříž; private tour of the Archiepiscopal Chateau Library (including hands-on access to the collection!), castle, and gardens (a UNESCO World Heritage site)
  • Day trip to Cesky Krumlov, a historic village built in the 13th century and a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Day trip to Prachov Rocks
  • Lectures from Charles University faculty and the National Library of Technology
  • Closing ceremony and celebration and more!

All tours and visits are guided and offer the opportunity to access collections not available to the public. This is truly a unique, behind-the-scenes, hands-on experience. Participants generally have evenings free (and some afternoons) to explore on their own. Activities are not scheduled during the weekend, and participants often travel further afield in the Czech Republic or to other nearby countries. Although the schedule for the seminar changes every year, please see this sample schedule for an idea of the activities participants can enjoy. Participants will be accompanied by SILS and Charles faculty and staff during seminar activities.


Participants stay in the Pinelli Hotel, Residence Bologna located in the heart of Old Town and only steps from the famous Charles Bridge. The hotel is located very close to a number of restaurants and stores. Charles will take care of lodging arrangements. Students do not need to make separate reservations unless they wish to stay in Prague before or after the seminar. Hotel amenities include: 

  • All-you-can-eat breakfast buffet each morning
  • Airport pickup and drop off (for an additional fee) 
  • Mini fridge and electric tea kettle in each room (a kitchenette may be accommodated upon request, if available) 
  • 24-hour front desk
  • Wi-Fi
  • Luggage storage 
  • Use of lounge/common space off the lobby

Landscape photo of Prague.

Academic credit

The seminar is available for 3 hours of graduate credit from UNC SILS. Participants are required to attend all class sessions and complete a research paper after the seminar ends. Your paper topic should be developed in conjunction with the SILS faculty advisor who accompanies participants on the program. If you are not a UNC SILS student, it will be your responsibility to ensure the course can count for credit at your home institution/department. Please indicate your wish to enroll for credit on your registration form. If you decide to take the seminar for credit, the UNC at Chapel Hill Cashier's Office will bill you approximately $300 additional (exact amount confirmed once summer 2019 tuition rates have been established). Price is not guaranteed and is based on the cost in 2018. Contact Shirley Parker if your institution requires further information about the course. A sample course site is here.

Cost and Registration

Register here! Thee registration deadline is March 8, 2020. The seminar tends to fill quickly so we encourage early registration in order to avoid disappointment. 

The cost for the 2020 seminar:
Shared accommodation (roommate): $4,100
Single accommodation (no roommate): $4,600

**If you decide to take the seminar for credit, an additional $300 (approx.) will be billed to you through the UNC Cashier.

The acceptable form of payment is credit card (Visa or MasterCard only). 

What's included: 

  • Housing
  • Instruction and lectures
  • ALL guided tours
  • Most meals (breakfast every morning, lunch most days, and dinner on occasion) 
  • Refreshments, tea, and coffee on lecture days
  • ALL in-country transportation for program activities, including private coach bus and high-speed train (airport pickup and drop off not included)
  • International health insurance

What's not included: Program cost does not include airfare to or from the US, airport transfer, or personal travel. Flights are to be booked separately and individually. For safety purposes, all participants are required to have a working cell phone during their time abroad. The cost of a phone or international plan is not included in the program cost. Estimated out-of-pocket expenses chart for additional costs not included above. We recommend waiting to purchase airfare until registration has been finalized in order to ensure that minimum attendance has been reached. If you need to purchase your plane ticket prior to the registration deadline, or if you have additional questions, please contact Shirley Parker

Cancellation policy

A monetary penalty will be charged to those cancelling their registrations. Cancelation requests received on or before January 31: 20% penalty. Requests received between February 1 and February 15: 60% penalty. Requests received after February 15: no refund

Ornate reading room.


This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for exposure to a variety of libraries and lectures by experts in the Czech Republic.


The people from Charles University were amazing and always willing to help. Their connections helped us visit so many amazing places and they were very knowledgeable about all the places we went.


We received an unbelievable level of attention from the faculty at Charles University. Everything was extremely well organized and we felt like VIP's everywhere we went.


Without exception, my experience in Prague was an excellent one. The professors I worked with made my educational pursuits challenging, interesting and most enjoyable. The city of Prague provided me with more extracurricular activities than I could have imagined. But the most valuable and rewarding experience was simply removing myself from familiar and comfortable surroundings and going to a different place to live and study.


The seminar provided wonderful insight into how some of the subjects in my SILS classes are being applied internationally. I came to understand empirically some of the challenges working with medieval records in terms of preservation, storage and digitization. Also, I gained an awareness of the types of work opportunities that are available in European libraries.


The Prague summer seminar was invaluable to me in regards to meeting other students and professionals, learning about international libraries, and experiencing the magic of Prague. I am attending an online MLIS program so meeting others with the same interests is always exciting for me. My time in Prague, documented with a research paper and blog posts, will be included in my eportfolio. On a personal level, I was greatly influenced by the trip and the wonderful people I met.