unizeit titel

Rewriting libraries

In the first edition of "unizeit", we presented the new University Library building in Leibnizstraße. A lot has happened in the library sector since 2001 – with digitisation gaining ground and presenting libraries with major challenges.

aerial view on the library building
© Matthias Burmeister

Work on remodelling the University Library will be completed by 2022. Items that are used less often will be relocated to the closed stacks, making space for well-equipped workplaces.

The University Library at the CAU is a central contact point for research, teaching and study. "Yet alongside traditional services in and around printed books and journals, digital offers have been becoming increasingly important for some time – a change that is moving forwards fast," reports Dr Kerstin Helmkamp, who has been managing the University Library since May 2017. Around ten years ago, the borrowing figures for printed works and the download figures for digital works were roughly comparable at around one million per year each. However, significantly fewer print media are now being lent out each year, while the use of digital works has seen massive growth. Indeed, the latter has almost quadrupled to 4.2 million and remains on an upwards trajectory.

The life and natural sciences sit right at the forefront of this development, in many cases working exclusively with electronic journals. "The changes in user behaviour and more complex requirements from the field of research are forcing us to reorganise the University Library in many areas, for example by continuously further developing our services and adding new offers," explains Helmkamp.

One example of this is the publication of research findings on the University Library's soon to be fully modernised publication server with open access. This kind of online publication makes an important contribution to the global movement of making scientific information available free-of-charge and without restrictions. Open access incentives are to be established for this, as although such materials generally do not cost the reader anything, they are typically not free for authors at commercial publishing houses. Alongside advisory services, the University Library is also already offering cost contributions with finances from the Schleswig-Holstein Open Access Fund, which is currently very much in demand - particularly among the life and natural sciences.

The recent founding of a university publishing house, based at the University Library, represents another step towards supporting open access publications by members of the CAU. The plan is to use this in future to publish high-grade scientific papers in purely digital form or as a combination of electronic and printed publications. "The aim of the new university publishing house is to close a gap in the University Library's publication services," explains Helmkamp. "It should also accompany the digital changes in the scientific communication culture, which have been taking hold for several years – particularly in the field of the humanities."

The fact that the German Studies graduate has a heart for the humanities is reflected in the University Library's focus topic of "Digital Humanities". The University Library digitises and presents historical texts via its freely accessible "Kiel Digital Library" platform (DiBiKi) and will ensure their professional long-term archiving in cooperation with national partners. “Digitised works offer the key advantage that they can be viewed around the clock from anywhere in the world," explains Helmkamp. This facilitates a whole new, also collaborative way of working in projects, for example through direct linking of transcripts, scholarly descriptions and facsimile, processing in virtual research environments, all the way up to digital editions. "To supplement processes of full-text recognition, we are also keen to offer tools for analytical evaluations, as well as text and data mining," comments Helmkamp with a view to the future.

Kerstin Helmkamp and Uwe Pfründer
© Claudia Eulitz, Uni Kiel

Kerstin Helmkamp, University Library, and Uwe Pfründer, Facility Management, are working together to implement the future plans.

The focus on digital will also be reflected in the fabric of the building, as underlined by Dr Uwe Pfründer, head of CAU Facility Management: "In the course of the next few years, we will start work on converting one wing of the University Library. In so doing, we will reduce the book inventory in the open-access area and set up many different workplaces with modern equipment for digital work and study that will be available to both individuals and groups. Work on the ground floor is scheduled for completion by 2022, with all areas enjoying stable WiFi coverage," promises Pfründer. Any restrictions will also be kept to an absolute minimum during the construction work. "Once the construction is complete, we will reopen the area with a concept that is characterised by openness and also invites students to hold their own events here. Alongside presentations, the new concept also includes plans for exhibitions."

"It is clearly a major challenge for us to reallocate some 2,000 square metres of library space with everything still up and running, get our staff on board with the changes and also maintain services. But we are really looking forward to getting our teeth into it," comments Kerstin Helmkamp in summary.

Author: Claudia Eulitz

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