Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Center “The first time it blew me away completely”

The gateway to knowledge – the foyer of the Jacob and Wilhelm-Grimm Centre.
The gateway to knowledge – the foyer of the Jacob and Wilhelm-Grimm Centre. | Photo (detail): © Ula Brunner

Pauline B. studies in the Berlin district of Mitte – a mere cock’s stride away from the “Grimm”. She was particularly taken with the spectacular reading terraces. Nevertheless she still has to put up with a few inconveniences.

I have been studying Spanish and European Ethnology at the Humboldt University in the Berlin district of Mitte since October 2016. From the outset, our professors provided key term texts and specialised literature in the “Grimm” for us and organized small induction courses. The library is very close to the faculties I study at and at the end of a university day I often pop in there on my way home. I can also borrow specialised literature via the “Primus” search portal, which is not available at other libraries. There is so much that can be digitally downloaded, but I also often work with printed books.

Each faculty has its own media area. Each faculty has its own media area. | Photo (detail): © Ula Brunner The one thing I really like is the architecture. Everything is spacious and open, somehow liberating. The rooms alone inspire me to give free rein to my ideas and creativity. The reading terraces in particular have a unique learning atmosphere.

The reading terraces are the most popular place to work. The reading terraces are the most popular place to work. | Photo (detail): © Ula Brunner The terraces seem to “stack up” over several floors. The first time I went there, it blew me away completely. The ceiling is glazed, I can see every cloud and sunbeam. You can hear the pitter-patter of the rain, the light is reflected all around, there are other students studying there – that gives you a great feeling.

A special place – the reading terraces A special place – the reading terraces | Photo (detail): © Matthias Heyde, Universitätsbibliothek Wherever I look, people are working. We do not know each other, but we are sitting together in this splendid atmosphere of learning and knowledge. Everyone is focused and disciplined. This creates a special mood that gives us a communal boost and motivates us. I find it impressive how in this space knowledge is produced and reproduced by young people who want to learn something. And that's what we all want, no matter what the subject is.

You can also work well elsewhere, but the ambience is not so spectacular. You can also work well elsewhere, but the ambience is not so spectacular. | Photo (detail): © Pauline Brunner There are, of course, other places in the centre where one can work. They are not quite as sought after as the terraces, but then again they are not as nice. I always have to have my student ID card with me, because most of the places are reserved exclusively for students and employees of the Humboldt University. You should not leave the particular spot you have chosen to work in for more than an hour, as it will be taken by another visitor.

If you need some time out from studying, you should set the time on the break dial. If you need some time out from studying, you should set the time on the break dial. | Photo (detail): © Pauline Brunner The “Grimm” is, to put it mildly, strongly frequented. It is not the Humboldt University’s only library, but certainly the largest. As it is so central, it is very attractive for the students. Thousands of people come here every day and at peak times there are not enough places to study and lockers for them all.

The usual queue for a free locker. The usual queue for a free locker. | Photo (detail): © Pauline Brunner Getting a free locker is important, because you cannot just take your backpack or bag into the library with you. We are checked at the entrance, there is no way you can sneak in. Everything you do not store in the locker must be put into transparent plastic bags. I personally prefer to wait, and often for 15 to 20 minutes, until a locker is free. There have been times when I have not been able to get a seat, so I had to leave. That is a real shame.


The library is centrally located between Humboldt University and Friedrichstrasse station. The library is centrally located between Humboldt University and Friedrichstrasse station. | Photo (detail): © Ula Brunner The “Grimm” is actually a great library - but you have to have a little time.

Pauline B. (born in 1997), a native of Berlin, has been studying European ethnology and Spanish at the Humboldt University of Berlin since the winter term of 2016/17.
The Jacob-und-Wilhelm-Grimm-Center in the Berlin district of Mitte is home to the Central Library of the University Library of the Humboldt University in Berlin, as well as its computer and media service (CMS). The library was opened in 2009 and was designed by the Swiss architect, Max Dudler. It has about two million volumes, making it the largest library collection in the German-speaking world that has open-access shelving.

 

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