The study trip Library Organization in Academic Libraries – Best-Practice Examples (Bibliotheksorganisation in wissenschaftlichen Bibliotheken – Best-practice-Beispiele), organized by the Goethe Institute in Belgrade in collaboration with the National Library of Serbia, was carried out between May 8 and May 13, 2011. The programme was supported by the Bibliothek & Information International (BI-International). The aim of the study trip was to get acquainted with best practices in those German libraries that successfully made a transition towards a more rational organization, more efficient acquisition and cataloguing, application of digital technologies and a more user-oriented approach. Special attention was also paid to the architecture of libraries.
During the five days of the study trip, we had an opportunity to see the following libraries in Berlin: Berlin State Library (Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin; House 1 in Unter den Linden, House 2 in Potsdamer Straße), Library of the Social Science Research Centre Berlin (Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung, WZB), Library of the German Bundestag, Cooperative Library Network Berlin-Brandenburg KOBV (Kooperativer Bibliotheksverbund Berlin-Brandenburg), Philological Library of the Free University of Berlin (Philologische Bibliothek der Freien Universität Berlin), University Library of the Free University of Berlin (Universitätsbibliothek der Freien Universität Berlin), the Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Centre of the Humboldt University of Berlin (Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Zentrum, Universitätsbibliothek der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) and the Philological Library of the Humboldt University of Berlin (Philologische Bibliothek der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin). We also visited the German National Library in Leipzig (Deutsche Nationalbibliothek) and the Saxon State and University Library in Dresden, SLUB (Sächsische Landesbibliothek - Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden).
The programme participants included nine librarians from academic libraries in Serbia: Andrijana Stojanović (Nikola Tesla University Library of Niš), Milica Ševkušić (Library of the Institute of Technical Sciences of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade), Jelena Jaćimović (Library of the Faculty of Dentistry of the University of Belgrade), Tatjana Timotijević and Dobrila Begenišić (National Library of Serbia, Belgrade), Medisa Kolaković (Library of the Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Novi Sad), Radivoj Doderović and Novka Šokica-Šuvaković (Library of Matica Srpska, Novi Sad), as well as Ms Bettina Radner, the Head of the Library of the Goethe Institute in Belgrade, and Ms Jana Mayer-Kristić, translator.
During two-hour visits to particular libraries, through presentations and guided tours the participants were provided with information on the organization of the libraries, on their buildings, collections and services, as well as on specific technical solutions related to library material acquisition, cataloguing, automated library loan systems, storage of library holdings, library transportation systems, user services, digitization of library materials and digital repositories. The visits also included discussions in which hosts replied to numerous questions.
Vast changes that have been taking place in German libraries during the past two decades have occurred against the background of a global trend of digital revolution and networking and a local process of international significance – the reunification of Germany. The process of the reunification of cultural institutions that were separated after World War II necessitated a complex coordination and gradual standardization in order to avoid dramatic disturbances of the existing infrastructure and spatial and human resources. As a result of that gradual transition, the German National Library, as the central archival library and national bibliographic centre for the Federal Republic of Germany, has premises in Leipzig, Frankfurt and Berlin, whereas the Berlin State Library operates in two houses – House 1 in Unter den Linden, House 2 in Potsdamer Straße and the final division of responsibilities between them will be established in 2013, after the completion of reconstruction of House 1.
On the other hand, the networking and automation brought about a gradual reorganization of work: the reduction of cataloguing departments (owing to cooperative catalogues) and the increasing role of user service departments. There is also a growing trend of involving the employees of all library departments in user services. The librarians of the Philological Library of the Free University of Berlin work on the info desk in two-hour shifts. Although this approach was initially accepted with some hesitation, it turned out that it resulted in a greater satisfaction among librarians and betters understanding of users' needs. As a result of rationalization, which also led to an overall reduction of staff, some of the services (most often copying services) previously provided by library staff are entrusted to external companies. In the Saxon State and University Library in Dresden (SLUB), apart from copying, basic information services and automated loan are also subjects to outsourcing. The acquisition of electronic resources is carried out through consortia in much the same way as it is done in Serbia. The programme participants had the opportunity to talk to a representative of such a consortium (Friedrich Althhoff Konsortium). Book acquisition is also highly automated and is carried out through external book suppliers. At SLUB Dresden we could see a detailed presentation of the process.
Recent trends in the development of university libraries in Berlin include the merging of small departmental and institute libraries into larger bodies (like the Philological Libraries of the Humboldt Library and the Free University of Berlin) housed in new buildings. This enables the concentration of library collections and access to a significantly broader audience. This process has been accompanied by the standardization and implementation of uniform classification (most commonly the Regensburg classification scheme) and book signing systems. These tasks have not been completed yet.
On the other hand, the compilation of OPASCs has been largely completed. Although Berlin libraries use various OPAC software solutions, the integrated search of the library resources of a great number of special and research, government and university libraries, as well as regional and public libraries is enabled via a common platform created and maintained by the Cooperative Library Network Berlin-Brandenburg KOBV. KOBV also enables the creation of virtual catalogues that integrate resources from multiple libraries related to a particular topic (Virtual Judaica or the virtual film catalogue) and provides hosting services to KOBV members.
Special attention is also paid to digitization and the priorities in this process primarily include old and rare books, maps and manuscripts, autographs, photographs and sheet music. The on-demand digitization services are also available within the limits set by copyright laws. The same standards and limits also apply to digital repositories. Libraries' digital collections that are beyond copyright limits are usually freely available on their websites and are integrated with OPACs (a good example of which we could see at the Berlin State Library). Digitisation is given a particularly prominent place at SLUB Dresden, which is a member of the German Digital Library (Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek). Along with manuscripts, prints and maps, its digital archives include thematic digital collections (Saxonica, History of Technical Science, Contemporary Art, etc.) and the Deutsche Fotothek (archive of digitized photographs). The construction of digital repositories in which members themselves deposit their works is also a growing trend in German libraries. It is supported by the Open Access Initiative and German Initiative for Networked Information (Deutsche Initiative für Netzwerkinformation, DINI), which is in charge of developing standards and certification in this field. The SLUB Dresden and the Humboldt University of Berlin have DINI certified repositories. Among the libraries visited during the study trip, the University Library of the Free University of Berlin and WZB (the search of deposited works is integrated with OPAC) also maintain institutional repositories.
The new concepts of library services are reflected in the architecture of libraries, too. There are two major problems to be addressed by architects when designing such buildings: the design of storage rooms (due to complex technical requirements) and the organization of the user area. Great attention is also paid to aesthetic qualities of library spaces and an influential example in this respect is provided by the House 2 of the Berlin State Library, built in the late 1970s. The majority of the libraries visited during the study trip are housed either in new buildings (SLUB Dresden, Philological Library of the Free University of Berlin, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm Centre of the Humboldt University of Berlin) or those that are undergoing reconstruction (Berlin State Library, House 1; German National Library in Leipzig). Apart from spacious and well-lit communal reading rooms, they offer computer workstations, boxes for individual work, group work rooms and rooms with play area for children. Wireless connection available to all users within the library is also a standard. One of the most pronounced trends is an increasing free access to bookshelves, which is also a determining factor in designing libraries. Free access to books is further facilitated by the application of RFID technology in library protection systems: users can loan and return books without the assistance of library staff, which also enables to extend loan services beyond librarians' working hours. The access to libraries and their collections is either free of any charge or the users pay a fairly low membership fee (Berlin State Library).
The libraries visited during the study trip belong to various types and have a different internal organization and status within larger systems (e.g. the libraries within the Humboldt University are centralized – they are subordinated to the central university library; on the other hand, within the Free University of Berlin there is no hierarchical relationship between the central university library and minor libraries). The Library of the Institute of Technical Sciences has the most in common with the Library of the Social Science Research Centre Berlin and the Library of Bundestag: just like our library, they are not open to general public, they all have a limited number of users and cover specific topics and fields of research. They are thus involved in research process and they shape their work through close collaboration with researchers (or parliament members). They are expected to provide relevant information on demand or even to anticipate the needs of users, and to assist users in identifying and acquiring relevant literature. Additionally, the funding system of the Library of the Social Science Research Centre Berlin WZB is similar to the funding of the libraries of research institutes in Serbia: the acquisition of books is funded from the budgets of particular projects, whereas electronic resources are acquired through consortia funded from the budget of the Federal State of Berlin. In that respect, the experience of these libraries may be instructive in improving the efficiency of library services at the Institute of Technical Sciences of SASA. Since the construction of the institutional repository at out Institute is yet to be undertaken, the experiences of German libraries is valuable.