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Ten WESS members were selected to participate in a study tour of eastern Germany sponsored by the Goethe-Institut, New York; the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany, Public Affairs Section; and Bibliothek & Information International, in cooperation with WESS. Titled "Leipzig, Dresden, Weimar: Exploring a Library Landscape," the tour was intended to acquaint German Studies specialists from US academic and research libraries with developments in librarianship and publishing in eastern Germany since unification. The tour, which ran March 16-23, 2006, was book-ended, start and finish, by the Leipzig Book Fair and Germany's national professional meeting of librarians, the Bibliothekartag, held this year in Dresden.
Tour participants were WESS members from across the United States: Gordon Anderson (U of Minnesota), Sam Dunlap (UC San Diego), Marzena Ermler (New York Public), Elisabeth Remak-Honnef (UC Santa Cruz), Axel Schmetzke (U of Wisconsin, Stevens Point), Timothy Shipe (U of Iowa), Sem Sutter (U of Chicago), Barbara Walden (U of Wisconsin, Madison), and the authors of this report, Dick Hacken (Brigham Young) and Kizer Walker (Cornell). Thea Lindquist (U of Colorado) accompanied the group as WESS Coordinator for the tour. Thea planned the group's itinerary along with Marilen Daum, Library Director and Regional Coordinator at the Goethe-Institut, New York, and Jens Lazarus, Library Director at the Hochschule Merseburg, who served as our guides in Germany.
Our group arrived in Leipzig by air and rail on March 16 and converged at the Marriott-owned Renaissance Hotel. The new hotel with its amiable, service-minded staff, was bustling with Book Fair traffic -- Bavarian playwright Franz Xaver Kroetz and ex-GDR novelist Günter Kunert would later be spotted at the breakfast buffet.
That first evening, the group headed to the US Consulate in the freezing drizzle for an official welcome to the city by Leipzig Consul General Mark Scheland and Leipzig Consul for Public Affairs Mark Wenig. Fellow WESSie Jim Niessen joined us there as well. Jens Lazarus had arranged a fine dinner at a hip Leipzig locale -- our group knew then that we were in excellent hands.
Our first full day in Leipzig was devoted to touring two major libraries: the Leipzig University's Biblioteca Albertina and the Deutsche Bücherei. At the former we were met by the new Director of the University Library, Dr. Ulrich Johannes Schneider, who led us through the newly renovated Albertina, the main building in an extensive University Library system. The 19th-century Neo-Renaissance structure had been badly damaged in the Second World War, and in a cash-strapped German Democratic Republic (GDR), the University had more or less worked around the ruins. Begun after German Unification, work on the building has only recently been completed. Just as impressive as the immaculately restored lobby and central staircase was a reference reading room converted from an open courtyard, now enclosed under a glass ceiling (see other photos). Elsewhere on the tour, a tightly-wound spiral staircase in modern style would lead us to an underground exhibition space, where a special exhibit on early modern encyclopedias and the representation of knowledge, curated by Dr. Schneider, was on view. 
Dr. Schneider, who is also Professor of Philosophy at Leipzig, assumed the Directorship of the University Library earlier this year, after several years at the Herzog August Bibliothek Wolfenbüttel. He provided a brief history of the University of Leipzig -- one of Germany's oldest, and an institution founded by scholars, rather than clerics -- and its Library, which has its origins in the years of the Protestant Reformation. He situated the Library and the broader institution today in the context of the changing role of the university in Germany and the EU.
We started off our visit to the Deutsche Bücherei with a hearty lunch in the library's cafeteria. Afterwards, the group assembled in a large conference room rimmed with portraits of the Leipzig publishers whose deposited volumes formed the original core of the library's collection. We were welcomed by Library Director Birgit Schneider, and Dr. Udo Germer, who would be our guide for the afternoon. They provided a history of the library. The Deutsche Bücherei was founded in 1912 and functioned from the beginning as a national deposit library for works published in Germany. Since 1940, the library has comprehensively collected translations of German works into other languages, as well as works published outside the country on "German" topics. Just as many of the key German publishers, previously concentrated in Leipzig, emigrated from Socialist East after 1947 to reestablish themselves in West Germany, a new Deutsche Bibliothek was launched in 1947 in Frankfurt am Main to fulfill the deposit library function for the West. And just as parallel book trades grew up on either side of the German-German border, the two "national" libraries competed across Cold War lines. They published separate national bibliographies, each covering the output of both German states: the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie in the East and Deutsche Bibliographie in the West. Following Unification in 1990, the Deutsche Bücherei Leipzig became part of a three-library system that includes the Deutsche Bibliothek in Frankfurt and the Deutsches Musikarchiv in Berlin. At the Deutsche Bücherei, our group learned, a few days prior to the official announcement at the Dresden Bibliothekartag, that new legislation would soon establish the three libraries as the "Deutsche Nationalbibliothek." The new status came into effect in June 2006. (Read more on the libraries that make up the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek.)
Dr. Germer is a cataloger and at the time of our visit was immersed in his library's transition to Dewey Decimal Classification; it came as something of a disappointment that the American visitors, accustomed to the LC Schedule, were not able to offer many insights on the nuances of Dewey. On a walk through the cataloging department, our group was interested to find the old card catalog, now out of the public eye, with its outmoded East German subject classification still intact.
Our tour of the Deutsche Bücherei included a visit to the library's special collection on Holocaust Studies, the Anne-Frank-Shoah-Bibliothek, which opened in 1992 and has an active youth outreach program. Other special collections include the Sozialistica holdings on the history and culture of socialist movements, as well as exile literature in some detail from 1933-1945. The Deutsche Bücherei is also home to museum on the history of the book, the Deutsches Buch- und Schriftmuseum, which houses historical artifacts from printing and book production and numerous beautiful examples of the bookmaker's art.
Our last full day in Leipzig, March 18, was dedicated to attending the book fair. While Frankfurt offers the world's largest book fair and seems dedicated to the business side of the information game, the Leipzig Book Fair appears to be largely a reader-oriented affair. Certainly, library business can be conducted, but emphasis is placed on numerous author readings and on other forms of direct contact between the public and the various publishers, such as hands-on book illustrating for young children and costume parties for youth at the huge comics pavilion. At the same time, Leipzig's traditional connections with Eastern European publishing -- most evident during the Socialist years -- are still intact and represented in the exhibition halls. Since it was a Saturday, we were able to develop an unremitting closeness to the local reading public -- starting in the standing-room-only streetcars and reaching a crescendo in the swarming humanity at the book stands: a new record for attendance was reached this year. The book fair is more than what you see at the fairgrounds, though: it is the occasion for a multi-venue cultural happening spread across the face of Leipzig in libraries, bookstores, lobbies, museums and meeting halls. As one example, we were fortunate to attend a reading in the reference reading room of the University of Leipzig library by Bettina Röhl, daughter of 70s Red Army Faction militant Ulrike Meinhof. Pointed questions by the eastern German attendees and reactions to Röhl's new book, So macht Kommunismus Spass (The Fun Side of Communism)  were at least as enlightening as the reading itself had been.
Arriving in Weimar, we found that our charming small hotel, the Hotel am Frauenplan, was situated across a little plaza from the house where Goethe lived and died. Our first stop after a brief rest was the Goethe House, where we enjoyed a lively and informative tour. It was a glorious day: the sun was shining, music was in the air, Classical Weimar was relevant and close.
Librarians and scholars throughout the world grieved at the news of the 2004 fire that badly damaged Weimar's Herzogin-Anna-Amalia-Bibliothek and destroyed large parts of its collection. Goethe himself served for more than 30 years as the director of the library, which was established by the Duchess Anna Amalia in the late 18th century. The Anna-Amalia was one of the primary sites for material related to Germany's Weimar Classicism; it also contained medieval and early modern manuscripts and countless special collections, as well as numerous artworks.
If our group had expected the visit to the Anna-Amalia to deal mostly with the tragedy and subsequent recovery efforts, it came as something of a surprise when we were led past the damaged building and into the courtyard of an adjacent palace complex, where an entryway though a modernist façade took us into a sleek, contemporary library lobby. Our host, Director Dr. Michael Knoche, explained that the Anna-Amalia's lavish new Study Center addition had been in planning and construction since the early 1990s; it opened to the public in 2005. The fire broke out just weeks before books had been scheduled to move from the historic facility to the new one, pending renovations to the 18th-century structure.
The focal point of the new Study Center is a multi-storey "book cube," the interior of which is lined with browsable shelves, which are accessible via narrow walkways that leave the impressive space open from floor to roof. Dr. Knoche led us though an underground space, strikingly constructed in wood and concrete, with open stacks and study carrels, which also served as a passageway to the original 18th-century library. Naturally, this is not open to the public during the restoration work, but Dr. Knoche led us to the construction site. While smoke and fire damage was everywhere in evidence, the main gallery of the beautiful Rokokosaal was in fact largely intact (the second floor gallery was completely destroyed). We could see the work of the construction crews and it was possible to imagine that, in the near future, this building would be usable again and connected to the modern addition. But what about the collections it once housed?
After our tour of the old and the new Anna-Amalia, the library's Dr. Jürgen Weber gave the group a presentation on the 2004 fire and the recovery efforts. These are the stark statistics: Around 50,000 volumes were destroyed in the fire. Around 30,000 sustained water damage and a further 30,000 partial fire damage. Around 120,000 volumes have been sent to Leipzig for restoration. Numerous unique items were lost, including musical manuscripts and material associated with the Baroque-era Fruchtbringende Gesellschaft.
Dr. Weber described the Herculean (and highly time-sensitive) task of preparing the damaged books for storage while they await restoration; fortunately, if ironically, smoke helped protect the wet books from molding until they could be cleaned and deep-frozen. The library is engaged in a vast fund-raising effort to pay for restoration of the damaged books, which were not insured. In addition, the library is pursuing replacement of lost books, and many have come in from private collections; Dr. Weber estimated that around 60% of the lost volumes could be replaced over the next 30 years.
Weimar was the original home, at the time of its founding in 1919, of the Bauhaus, the seminal modernist school of art, architecture, and design. The conservative political climate forced the school to move to Dessau in 1925, and then to Berlin in 1932; it was shut down by the Nazis after 1933 and many of its teachers and students scattered in exile. But after 1945, the GDR established an architecture and design school on Weimar's old Bauhaus grounds. After Unification, this school was raised to University status and the name "Bauhaus" adopted. Today's Bauhaus-Universität Weimar specializes in architecture, art, design, and media studies. The new University Library, which opened in 2005, is located in Weimar's quaint central business district, its huge, grey concrete façade like nothing else in the vicinity. Library Director Dr. Frank Simon-Ritz showed us around the open floor plan, built of concrete and unfinished wood. Large, sunlit group-study rooms beckoned. After an engaging discussion about issues facing German academic libraries, the group set out for the original Bauhaus facility, on the outskirts of the city. We were met by Marlis Grönwald, who serves as curator and docent at the Bauhaus site. Designed by Henry van de Velde in 1905, the buildings look like nothing one would associate with a Bauhaus aesthetic. Inside, however, colorful murals in the Schlemmer stairwell and sculpted, robot-like figures stationed by the doors let us know we had come to the right place. The artworks, it turned out, were re-creations, from GDR days, of Bauhaus originals destroyed by the Nazis. Also painstakingly and beautifully restored was the office of Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius.
After we had seen the historic campus, Frau Grönwald invited us to walk some distance to see one of the first architectural projects of the Bauhaus to be executed, the Haus am Horn. Built as an experimental one-family home for the 1923 Bauhaus exposition, the minimalist Haus am Horn consists of a square living space surrounded by narrow bedrooms, bath, and kitchen. In recent decades, the building served as faculty housing for the design school, but is now a museum.
Spring was scheduled for March 21, but it failed to arrive. We band of librarians, however, did arrive in the Saxon capital on that day by express train, crossing the Elbe and passing the expected Congress Center on the left and an unexpected mosque on the right. (Later, through the process of investigative dining, we learned that the supposed mosque served pork schnitzel in its cupola restaurant: from this we deduced that it is no proper mosque, but rather a remnant of the same nineteenth-century Saxon exoticism that gave us Karl May and his series of books set in the Ottoman Empire.) The Congress Center was the venue of the 95th German Library Conference (Bibliothekartag) with the posited theme of "Network Library." As you will see, the actual theme expanded to be "Network Librarians" as well. Before going to the conference, however, there was at least one other sublime sight to see.
After having checked into our rooms at one end of a massive sprawl of three contiguous hotels from the socialist era -- arranged along a grand pedestrian boulevard -- we were able to tour the recently renovated Frauenkirche (Notre Dame de Dresde). This gorgeous baroque church, which had been laid low during the Valentine's Day Allied air raids of 1945, never saw full restoration during the East German years. Rededicated only last October, the Frauenkirche took us back in time: the recently applied colors gave us a vivid image of how bright and lively the interior must have looked in 1734 after its reformation (so to speak) from Romanesque to Baroque.
We next set out by foot for the opening ceremonies of the Bibliothekartag. Our first impression, to conjoin the metaphorical with the architectural, was that the conference was going to engage our interest on "a number of levels." We went up a huge monolith of stairs -- worthy of a Toltec temple -- to enter the building. We proceeded down a set of stairs to register, up once again to check our coats, down two floors to visit the exhibitors, up three floors to check out the conference meeting rooms, and then back down one floor for the inevitable speech making that opens any such conference. Bracketing the speeches nicely, fore and aft, were energetic gusts of music performed by a live group. An added benefit was the chance to mingle with German librarians ˜ and with other WESS colleagues who had arrived separately. Personally, Dick was able to get together with a librarian from Hannover (who is now directing the university library in Saarbrücken) to talk about old bibliographic times spent compiling a bibliography of the contemporary German writer Walter Kempowski.
The next morning, March 22, our fearless leader Marilen Daum guided our path by foot, down along more socialist boulevards and past a Russian Orthodox church, to the "Sächsische Landesbibliothek / Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden." Given the 22-syllable name of the library -- expressing its partitioned collecting responsibilities from and for the court of Saxony, the university, and now the federal state of Saxony -- it is a linguistic relief to refer to it simply as SLUB. You can either spell that acronym out, we suppose, or else pronounce it as a German word, something along the lines of "Sloop." After a near half-millennium history, SLUB, or Sloopy, is hanging on. And not just hanging on: the same combination of determination, subsidy and restoration we saw in Leipzig and Weimar is allowing the SLUB to flourish. World War II destruction, decades of socialist neglect, and now, subsequent monies from the Federal Republic have allowed recent library renovations in the former GDR to be transfused with cutting-edge technology and intelligently applied architectural design: from near tabula rasa to fantabulous research.
While the physical accoutrements of SLUB were mega-spiffed as of 2002, the old holdings have been largely preserved. Thus, the library is able to house stunning historical items in an appropriately practical and attractive setting. A highlight of our visit was close inspection of what is indubitably the rarest treasure in Saxony: a collection of Mayan glyphs, cartoons, calendars and codices (including the priceless "Codex Dresdensis"), Mayan artifacts, and Mayan research materials that testify yet again to the draw of the exotic for Saxons. Further rare items we inspected were likewise in cool and protected environs. A Greek language manuscript of the 9th century, on vellum, sported interlinear Latin translations. (Thus we see that reading between the lines is nothing new.) The list of wonders goes on to include 14th century Alsatian illuminations, ancient clay tablets, lectures in Martin Luther's own hand, anatomical drawings from Dürer's own stylus, a 1733 Kyrie et Gloria mass of Bach's own composition, 200 manuscripts from Vivaldi's own manu, and -- my, my, how post-modern and even disappointing -- some of the special collections‚ musical scores available digitally transferred to cell-phone ring tones. Plus, if the history of stenography is your discipline, the collections here will keep your research delving and developing.
Moving through the rest of the library, much of it underground but genially and congenially lighted by nature herself, we learned that the library was built on the site of the former soccer pitch of Technische Universität Dresden. (At the very spot where crosses from the corner were once intercepted by the goalkeeper, now engineers or odds-makers can read up on the aerodynamically unstable properties of the new Adidas Teamgeist 14-panel ball.) The large reading room is cubical in shape and divided into smaller cubicles, offering multiple venues for private or, in some cases, collaborative research. The copy area -- unusual, at least in the traditional sense -- offers zero possibility for actual analog paper copies; it consists wholly of digital scanners whose output mode is computer image files. The need for toner and weekly repairs presumably drops to nil. Digitization in general is, if not king, then at least crown prince in the SLUB. A look at the library's digital archive leads to unique wonders such as the Deutsche Fotothek -- hundreds of thousands of digitized photos. Or you may prefer to navigate to the map collections online: the SLUB map scanner shown to us is so powerful, according to its operator, that you can scan right down on a map of Dresden with high resolution detail to the fuzz on the tail feathers of baby ducklings on the pond at the zoo. Or is that an exaggeration?
That afternoon, we forged our way to the German Library Conference again. Attendance amounted to something between two to three thousand souls overall -- with an equivalent number of bodies. In comparison to the gigantic and dispersed meetings of the ALA, with their potential side effects of alienated anonymity, the network of librarians in Dresden was quite compact and close. As an example, the speakers often knew and used the names of those asking questions, even at plenary sessions.
One commonality on both sides of the Atlantic, though, is that several desirable presentations or meetings take place at the same time, so that careful choices have to be made. Dick, as both a librarian and webmaster, opted to hear a recap of the Bielefeld Conference on "New Paradigms for the Digital Age" that had been held the month before. Thus, in a single day he was able to attend two conferences. A later panel on Germany university presses opened up his eyes to what a different role those presses play than do their American semi-equivalents. (The oldest of those presses we had visited just two days earlier, at the Bauhaus University in Weimar.) Others of the group attended lectures, meetings and workshops attached to various and sundry other topics carefully organized most assiduously (almost like German monographic sub-series) into twelve "thematic circles." These ranged in content from library reform to preservation of the cultural heritage, from digital and analog information provision to media literacy, from the connections between libraries and ideology to Europe-wide librarianship.
Anyone who has been to Germany a number of times needs to relearn, each visit, which German words and phrases -- even in the library realm, or especially in that realm -- have died out in favor of anglicized quasi-equivalents. During the course of three days we heard many, but particular attention is called to the apparently un-Teutonicizable "Catalog Enrichment," "outgesourct, " "browsen," "Newcomer," "Start Up," and "Customer Relationship Management."
The mayor of Dresden hosted a reception for international visitors to the conference that evening in the city museum. We were qualified and glad to attend. It is symptomatic of eastern Germany's ongoing efforts to reinvent itself that the group of us had to circle around a number of construction sites to locate the entrance to the Stadtmuseum. Once inside, though, we were warmly greeted with words, food, drink, and commentated art. In addition, some of us ended up in an exhibition of three-dimensional models, photographs, text and film outlining the chrysalis of renovation from which the new Frauenkirche so recently emerged. Also on view was a fascinating exhibit of work by GDR artist Willi Wolff, a student of Otto Dix in the days of the Weimar Republic, and an East German exponent of something strongly resembling Pop Art.
On our final day in Dresden, March 23, powered by a German breakfast, we hiked once more to the Bibliothekartag, as there were yet more thematic "circles" in which to twirl about. Dick opted for a characterization of "Digital Germany" by a representative of the DFG -- Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, heavy subsidizer of academic projects, digital and otherwise. This journey was a virtual joy and required the taking of many notes for future surfing. Next a representative of the Central Index of Digitized Imprints (or the German equivalent with the acronym of ZVDD) illustrated how searching and index sense might help guide us into the Digital Germany. All those present filled their intellectual maws with fodder for thought and for discussion with colleagues, foreign and domestic.
The highlight of the day, however, came when we learned to our ongoing horror (but subsequent delight) that we still has much to learn from our very own WESS colleagues. The occasion for this was the session on "Bibliotheksarbeit in den USA," sponsored by Bibliothek und Information International and featuring four WESS speakers -- Beth Remak-Honnef, Sem Sutter, Axel Schmetzke and Marzena Ermler. Beth addressed the question of how libraries might regain control of scholarly communication through open access, rights management, and publishing -- particularly as reflected in the poly-campus planning of the University of California. Sem discussed the library as place, taking us from the historical and the philosophical to the current and the practical; he described the decision of the University of Chicago's library to append an automated retrieval system as a means of addressing its space crunch rather than venturing off site. Axel described ways in which we can grant barrier-free access to library resources; his set of desiderata encompasses, among other things, online web design enabling users with physical limitations to get full use of what's available. Marzena presented a topic arising naturally from her own assignment at New York Public Library, the teaching of web skills. It was not only a description of web skill pedagogy (e.g., an online tutorial for blogging), it was actual teaching where we, ourselves, were forced to learn (though not against our will). Interesting and engaging, all of the presentations led us to take copious notes and to think how we might adapt or apply the principles presented by our colleagues for the good of our own libraries. Later that day, Thea Lindquist -- the WESS-based representative of the tripartite study tour organizing force along with Marilen Daum of the Goethe-Institute and Jens Lazarus of Hochschulbibliothek Merseburg -- participated in a panel discussion on international cooperation and exchange, representing herself and WESS international programs well.
A farewell dinner was held in the cupola of the faux-mosque, ex-tobacco-factory-turned-restaurant mentioned earlier. By this point, all participants were realizing what a unique and collegial (in this case spelled with two o's : cool-legial) experience was now coming to a rapid conclusion. We drew out the food and drinks as long as possible, but eventually we realized that everything has an end (unlike a sausage, which has two). A few of us ventured boldly to the Festabend (Festive Closing Bash) held in the Hygiene Museum -- yes, you read right, it was held in the Hygiene Museum. We carefully washed our hands and entered. Imagine our surprise when August the Strong appeared before the assembled librarians -- dressed in his long court coat, ruffled shirt and spiffy hose -- speaking his early eighteenth century Saxon dialect. He was a monarch, absolutely. Yet later in the evening, His Majesty devolved into something of a PR shill, marketing the concept of Saxon innovation to those gathered. Just as entertaining for a cluster of us American librarians was the lingering visit to our table of Klaus Kempf of the Bavarian State Library. Before leaving, Dick, along with Gordon Anderson and Thea Lindquist, met Bernd Schleh, editor of Buch und Bibliothek -- thanks to the people skills and networking of Marilen. Separate reports on the library conference in German by Dick, Gordon, Thea, and Beth Remak were subsequently published in the July issue of Buch und Bibliothek. 
The eastern Germany study tour experience etched lasting memories in each of the participants, memories and learned insights that will serve to enhance their work at their own institutions and will serve as a base for further contacts with colleagues, libraries, and the book trade in Germany. We learned from the vivid contrasts and boisterous growth of Germany's eastern states, where classical traditions and historic repositories are coming up against the digital age and against the challenges of matching holdings with appropriate spaces. As with most any analogous experience, the greatest value and growth came from human contact with like-minded colleagues of good will. Soliloquies could be penned and spoken to praise the dinners we enjoyed together, the food, the liquid refreshment, the finest of company -- tour members and our guides and colleagues at each venue. All members of the group were able to understand and converse in German, which made the task easier and more enjoyable for our guides at various sites. From beginning to end there seemed to be a fairy-tale enchantment, a glow of goodness, over everything right on down to the finest details, from the hotels to the trains to the taxi rides -- everything, perhaps, except Kizer's luggage, which had not arrived via the most direct route.
The schedule was vigorous but not so demanding as to preclude tempting tastes of German culture: how could we be in Leipzig and not hear music in Bach's Thomaskirche? How could we be in Weimar and not approach the spirit of Goethe? How could we be in Dresden and not explore the restored showcase of art and architecture? In the realm of added bonuses, many members of the group arrived before the beginning of the tour -- or stayed on after it -- in order to serve as speakers on panels, in conferences, or in business meetings with colleagues from Warsaw to Berlin, from Hamburg to Frankfurt.
All in all for all of us, we give thanks to Marilen Daum and the Goethe Institute in New York, to Jens Lazarus of the Hochschulbibliothek Merseburg (home, as all Germanists know, to some of the earliest magical incantations), to our own Thea Lindquist, who both helped to organize the odyssey and also dwelt amongst us, and to the added financial support of the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany, Public Affairs Section, and of Bibliothek & Information International. Finally, many thanks to WESS and those within it who initiated and facilitated the entire happy happening.
 The exhibition catalog is available as Seine Welt wissen. Enzyklopädien in der Frühen Neuzeit, ed. Ulrich Johannes Schneider (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft 2006).
 Bettina Röhl, So macht Kommunismus Spass. Ulrike Meinhof, Klaus Rainer Röhl und die Akte Konkret (Hamburg: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 2006).