Digital Libraries in Germany
Libraries are essential to the recovery of the community
When we speak of digital services for libraries, we cannot expect everyone working in a public library to know what is meant. There are so many ways for libraries to develop their individual digital portfolios that it is all too easy to lose sight of the needs of the communities they serve.
By Nicole Klug
In Germany, and in Bavaria in particular, most of the small public libraries are print-based. But the availability of digital content has changed the population and their needs. The internet has transformed the ways in which people access information. Nowadays it is so often faster for people to search for information online rather than for them to come to the library to search for the things they need.
The COVID-19-crisis has demonstrated to many workers the need to operate quickly and responsively. Now is the time to move away from a reactive way of working to proactive digital practices in libraries. This change may take time but when digital services are implemented appropriately, they can better support a community’s changing needs. A positive side effect of the COVID-19 crisis is the increase in communication between libraries. They have realised that everyone else is facing the same problems and that it is best to find solutions together. Existing digital webinars and other services can be adapted to fulfil the needs of the community. The digital offerings can develop the digital competencies of the people who are attending and contribute to the successful function of the library in the digital environment.
A positive side effect of the COVID-19 crisis is the increase in communication between libraries. They have realised that everyone else is facing the same problems and that it is best to find solutions together.
Strong libraries are essential to the recovery of the community. The crisis has given us the opportunity to work in a different way, even when the library buildings are closed. The library staff have had to work creatively to adapt services, and to boost customer loyalty and attract new ones. All external library communications – not just social media – have been carefully designed to address their relevant audience. The special thing about social media is the way in which topics are presented. A library is a place of connection for people of all ages and backgrounds, independently of COVID-19 or other challenges.
Technological development never stands still, and many digitisation efforts have been accelerated to address the new requirement for contactless forms of interaction. The potential that has emerged should be further exploited in order to make work processes more efficient.