Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Your Tucholsky Library Needs You - Today!

The Kurt-Tucholsky-Bibliothek in Esmarchstraße, Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg, is already an unusual project. The local authority closed this small local library down at the end of 2007 - to save money - and a group of volunteers opened it up again in July 2008. It's now run by about forty people in their spare time, still affiliated to the city's public library network but receiving far less public funding than other libraries.

Because of this affiliation, says this article in the Prenzlauer Berg Nachrichten, the library is obliged to keep its stock up to date. That involves culling a certain number of books every year (3600 – 15% of their 24,000 titles), which are supposed to be replaced by new books. Unfortunately, the budget for new books, which comes at least partly from donations, is lower than other libraries'. Five thousand euro, to be precise, which buys about 500 media, as the librarians state. You can imagine what will happen in the medium term: culling damaged books and media absolutely nobody uses is all fine and good, they say, but at this rate it'll only be a few years before they have none left.

So they have an idea. On Wednesday, 19 June, four borough librarians will be coming to "help" them carry out the cull. All you need to do is go to the library during their opening hours today - 3 to 7 p.m., Esmarchstraße 18, and take out some books. Like a literature protection flashmob. Because if the books aren't on the shelves they can't be taken away. Each borrower can take up to sixty media out at a time, and in case you can't actually carry sixty books at once, they've also kindly offered to store them for you.

It seems there is some confusion on the official front over how strictly this rule has to be applied. What the Tucholsky volunteers want is to be allowed to cull the same number of media as they replace. Perhaps a show of public solidarity will encourage the local authority to go a little easier on them. And if all else fails - or you're simply too far away and can't use the inter-library distance loaning service - you can always donate to their new purchases fund.


Helen MacCormac said...

Seems that local libraries in Germany are having a bad time. Here's Kassel's attempt to stop unwanted closures: http://www.buergerentscheid-kassel.de/media/download/flyer_plakate/flyer/Flyer.pdf

kjd said...

Thanks Helen. I think libraries are under threat in a lot of places in Europe.