|Sentinels outside Bücherhalle Hamburg|
"Mann und Frau" by Stephen Balkenhol
Once inside you are immediately struck by the largest self return system I have seen on display, with windows all around for customers to see the full works. I was warmly welcomed by Christoph Fathke, one of the Library staff and he explained that the Danish company Lyngsoe which installed the self return system is responsible for everything on the other side of the glass, including the transport of items between the 32 branches in the city. Bücherhalle staff only take responsibility when the trolleys are removed for re-shelving. For more information about the system see this case study.
|The Lyngsoe self return system|
The central library itself is located on three floors and feels spacious , light and welcoming. Another interesting innovation is their interactive multilingual electronic guide to the library (supplied by http://artec-berlin.de), which is touch screen and offers detailed illustrations of how to access what might otherwise be a large and potentially confusing building. In addition I am happy to report that there are many strategically located information points throughout the building fully staffed during library opening hours, with librarians looking after specific areas of stock along the lines of academic subject librarians in UK universities.
"there are many strategically located information points throughout the building fully staffed during library opening hours, with librarians looking after specific areas of stock along the lines of academic subject librarians in UK universities"
|The cafe area - calm before the doors open.|
There is a spacious café area on the ground floor of the library, although this picture looks a little empty as Christoph was kind enough to give me a tour before the library opened for business. When the doors did open the library became a thriving centre of the city community, obviously appreciated and well used by many Hamburgers. Unlike UK libraries everyone pays a small annual subscription to borrow from the library -
the maximum being €45 for adults over 27.
It is encouraging to see a real investment in services to children and young people and their reading. The children’s library called Kibi, short for Kinderbibliothek Hamburg was bright and lively with different areas for children to explore such as the Goldfischbecken (the goldfish bowl) for the under 3s and a flexible storytelling area called the Traumhaus (the Dream House). Altona Library, in a suburb of Hamburg, the whole branch is themed around reading and activities for teenagers and young adults.
Within the Bücherhalle Hamburg, there is a dedicated IT suite and school groups come in to the Library for regular information literacy sessions delivered by the library staff. This is really innovative but one of the differences between Germany and Wales is that we work in partnership across the library sectors in areas such as information literacy and in Germany the different sectors tend to work separately.
The whole atmosphere of the Bücherhalle Hamburg draws you in and makes you want to stay and explore the extensive stock. You can see the level of design and detail on each floor and even Beethoven looks down on the Music Library information desk! The statistics for 2011 speak for themselves with 800,000 visits each year and 3.6 million loans not bad for a city population of 1.8 million!
|Exceptional levels of design and detail makes this a space that draws you in,|
makes you want to stay and explore further.
If you get the chance do visit the wonderfully vibrant second largest city in Germany, there is a lot to see but do add Bücherhalle Hamburg to your itinerary. For those of you who can’t get there just now you may want to tune in to this episode of the German Sesame Street (Sesamestrasse) which was filmed in Bucherhalle Hamburg. Now there’s an idea for the marketing strand of Libraries Inspire?
My thanks go to Christoph Fathke and Anna Barckow at Bücherhalle Hamburg who gave me such a warm welcome and provided so much valuable information.
Our thanks go to Paul for this fascinating blog. We will welcome your comments on this photo blog, or indeed suggestions and contributions for further guest postings.
Paul Jeorrett is University Librarian and Head of Student Services at Glyndŵr University. Paul is a WHELF Representative and is the WHELF Observer on the CILIP Cymru Wales Executive Committee.
All images in this posting are (c) Paul Jeorrett, 2013.