How German librarians communicate (not)

Die wurde als Gastposting für Peter Alsbjers blogg geschrieben. Peter, der übrigens vor fast drei Jahren hier ein Gastposting in der LibWorld-Reihe zur Biblioblogosphäre Schwedens veröffentlichte, hatte mich dazu eingeladen, über the status of the German biblioblogosphere or anything else of interest zu schreiben. Dies ist dabei herausgekommen. Diskussion bitte in Peters Blog!

In May 2010 I wrote a posting about professional communication (ger) between librarians. It was the posting with the most comments that Infobib – the blog I’m usually writing in – ever had. It obviously hit a nerve in the German biblioblogosphere.

What was it about? Two studies about how librarians communicate were published. Petra Marker wrote her diploma thesis (ger) about the reception of biblioblogs in Germany. Her key finding was that a lot of librarians still not use blogs, neither reading nor writing.

A few weeks before Irene Barbers, Heike Gennermann and Sabine Hack held a speech at Inetbib Conference about “IT-related trends for the mailing list InetBib and their reflection on the Inetbib Conference 2010” (ger). They found out that most trend topics were mentioned in blogs a long time before they are discussed in Inetbib or in common journals. The most impressive example is the discussion about open source library systems. This was discussed Koha, for example, was mentioned in Germany oldest biblioblog Netbib) in 2001. It took only 7 years since the mailing list seriously adopted this topic. The library journals still ignore open source library systems.

It seems to be obvious: There’s a gap between biblioblogs and printed journals and their authors. But how can we come together? The discussion is still very active. I’d like to share some of the most approaches.


Planet Biblioblog

To put it simply, Planet Biblioblog is a RSS aggregator which contains more than 90 biblioblogs. It’s my daily answer to the question: What’s up in libraryland?

The pearl diver

The Perlentaucher (pearl diver) is an online magazine that delivers a daily overview about the most interesting newspaper articles in german newspapers. Liane Haensch decided to try something similar with blog postings. Each week since June 2010 (ger) she collects some postings that seem interesting to her. She describes (ger) her approach as an offer for unfrequent blog readers, who could be overwhelmed by the amount of postings in Planet Biblioblog.

Journal of the future

Heinz Pampel and Lambert Heller subsequently postulated Eight criteria for a Journal of the Future. They believe that common LIS journals should (really!) move to the web. This would be a sustainable and striking approach, if the journal editors would move themselves out of the print age.

Social Bookmarking

In 2008 I suggested to create something like a global library news collection. Working title was LibNews:

Idea: Bibliobloggers from all over the world are making news compilations every now and then, tagging them in a special way. English language as a scientific lingua franca would be first choice for such articles. Now, there are two ways to realize this:

Suggestion A: the manual approach
The article authors are tagging their articles in a social bookmarking tool. I would suggest bibsonomy, it’s much faster than But any service will do.


There are a lot of traditional LIS conference in Germany. I already mentioned the Inetbib conference. Others are Bibliothekartag with thousands of participants, more regional events like the Verbundkonferenzen or conferences on special topics, for example the Open Access Days. Some people were unsatisfied with these conferences for different reasons.

  • Experts seldom learn something new on these conferences
  • Some project news are kept like a secret for no other reason than that someone wants to present them on special conferences

As it’s a commonplace that the most important aspect of conferences is meeting people, the idea of unconferences or barcamps, being held and discussed in other countries, was widely appreciated. Soon the name Bibcamp (ger) was found and until now it was held three times. First in Potsdam and Berlin (2008), second in Stuttgart (2009) and the last one was in Hannover (2010). It’s by far my library-related highlight, and I’m looking forward to the fourth in Hamburg in March 2011.

So what’s exactly going on in Germany?

To tell the truth: I have no idea. The pearl diver is still active and I recommend it on a regular basis to other librarians. And just a few days ago Peter Mayr explored (ger) how often blogs were cited in some LIS publications. His first results leave us a bit more optimistic than the research mentioned above.

Anyway: There has to be a greater change in librarianship to gather the print librarians, the online librarians and (the biggest part) those that live in both worlds together. Librarianship changes on a monthly, weekly, daily basis. To get along with these changes we need the experiences of elder librarians as well as the dynamic and the curiosity of the younger ones. I’m slightly optimistic that these changes will happen.