From August 15 -20, a group of eight American and Canadian School Librarians took part in a study tour to Germany.
On Thursday, August 18, the group visited the German National Library in Frankfurt.
Michelle Schmitt from the Ladue Horton Watkins High School in St. Louis, Missouri describes some of her impressions:
Patrons (all over the age of 18; very different from the high school students we are used to) filled the airy spaces. Although none of the materials can leave the building, 1200-1400 people come daily to take advantage of the facilities and 8.3 million resources.
Our tour took us behind the scenes of this fascinating library. We started in the public spaces: the spacious and beautiful lobby and cafe, reading rooms, circulation area and a computer classroom. From there, we visited special collections, where we were treated to a glimpse of letters from a vault written by such wonderful historical figures as Sigmund Freud and Eleanor Roosevelt. Our behind the scenes tour continued as we saw the offices (I love all the natural light Germans use in their buildings) and the stacks. The stacks were my favorite; in the 1400 kilometers of hallway in the building there is a space-age transport system. Tracks and carts carry books (2,000 daily) from the stacks to the circulation desk for patrons with amazing efficiency. The stacks themselves are enormous, and the library very wisely shelves materials in accession order, eliminating the need to ever have to shift shelves for the ever-growing collection.
We finished our tour as we began, back in the lobby, where a number of us purchased souvenirs to commemorate this fun tour. As the artwork in the lobby suggests, the National Library in Frankfurt is a great place to stop and think; it was a pleasure to be one of the 170 foreign guests that the library sees each year!
Thursday, 17. November 2011
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