Grant Update: Nearly Done!

By Michael P. Olson, Widener Library, Harvard University

WESS Newsletter
Spring 2004

Vol. 27, no. 2

Editor: Sarah G. Wenzel

Association of College & Research Libraries
©American Library Association

As last year’s recipient of the Coutts Nijhoff International West European Specialist Study Grant, I traveled to Berlin and Leipzig to conduct research for my book entitled “Two Libraries, Two Peoples: Die Deutsche Bibliothek and Die Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Since German Reunification.” The goal of the book is to describe the development of these two leading German libraries since 1989.

Since German unification, both libraries are characterized by uneasy characteristics

· librarians having been, being, or becoming, “eastern German” or “western German”
· the many legacies of the GDR in the FRG since 1989
· the two main buildings of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin–Preussischer Kulturbesitz being located respectively in eastern Berlin and western Berlin
· the two main buildings of Die Deutsche Bibliothek being located in Frankfurt (western Germany) and Leipzig (eastern Germany)
· Die Deutsche Bibliothek and the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin–Preussischer Kulturbesitz each attempting to assume the role of Germany’s national library

A number of years have passed since the high emotions immediately after German unification, and many German librarians are both still employed and able to describe the years in question. Soon, unfortunately, the topic cannot be addressed directly, as more and more librarians will die, retire, or be unable to recall the past with accuracy. I hope the finished book, scheduled for June 2004, will successfully describe several facets of German librarianship that are important and interesting for students of contemporary Germany.

My sincere thanks go to Coutts Nijhoff International, ACRL and WESS, and the many librarians in Berlin and Leipzig who spoke with me.

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