Question: – What are the main characteristics of a university library today?
Response of Mr. Ulrich Johannes Schneider, director of the famous library of the University of Leipzig, who gave us the following interview:
It offers a space for study and research and, at the same time, accompanies the third mission of a university: to connect with the public.
A university library is not only at the service of science, but also of scientific culture and, therefore, of democracy. It is an uncensored space for information and the formation of critical thinking, especially in the digital age.
Why this preamble? Because this reminder, this context, this perspective allows us to recognize the importance of the exhibition dedicated to the horse that opened in March 2020 and lasted until November 22. Indeed, the horse deserved and deserves this type of attention, this type of exposure, for the role it has played and is playing in our societies in full technological and digital change, and it is well deserved!
If another more realistic argument were needed, it could be found in the choice of the most emblematic of the 7 spaces of the Leipzig University Library (BUL), that of the “Bibliotheca Albertina”, the largest and oldest building (built in 1891, completely renovated in 2002) which was made to house the treasures of the book collections accumulated by the BUL, especially thanks to transfers from the Dresden library.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the publication of the magnificent book that bears the title of the exhibition (in French) “De la beauté et de la souffrance des chevaux” (On the beauty and suffering of the Horse), edited by Wbg Theiss.
Among the contributions to this beautiful work, it is worth highlighting in particular that of Ulrich Raulff: “The Dresden Veterinary School and its history”, but especially the chapter dedicated to the immense BUL catalog on the horse “From the knowledge of equine veterinarians”, calculated in more than 35,000 pieces, which would make it the most important collection in the world on the subject of the horse.
X. L. – Tell us about the importance of the library at the University of Leipzig. Can you place it – characterizing the object – in comparison with other German or European libraries? Its strengths? Its originality? How will c re or?
U. J. S. – The Leipzig University Library is the richest library in ancient documents on the former East German states (excluding Berlin), which, over the centuries, has grown to significant proportions. It is constantly improving the description of these documents, especially in digital format.
Much of the BUL’s digital collections are available online: the papyrus and ostraca collections, medieval and oriental manuscripts, autographs, portraits, and of course, a large selection of printed books and periodicals.
The BUL considers itself not only a library, but also a cultural institution, and offers a very comprehensive calendar of events and exhibitions. In the last fifteen years more than 50 exhibitions have been organized at the “Bibliotheca Albertina”. 30 of which have had catalogs produced, all of them on a specific website, with a growing audience.
X. L. -Who has physical possession of the works? Do you have a procurement policy? How is it organized (the team) ? How is it financed?
U. J. S. – Since it’s founding in 1543, the BUL has traditionally been considered a service institution for researchers and students, both on-site and today, online. It is fully funded by the State of Saxony with the aim of supporting studies and research at the university. Currently, the BUL offers 3,400 jobs in seven different locations in the city of Leipzig. The most emblematic are the “Bibliotheca Albertina”, the largest and oldest building (built in 1891, completely renovated in 2002) – open every day until midnight – and the “Campus-Bibliothek” (built in 1973, completely renovated in 2009) – open 24 hours a day since 2009 -. Two new buildings have recently been inaugurated: the Educational and Sports Library and the Library of Medical and Natural Sciences.
The BUL makes efforts to obtain external funding: currently, the BUL has about 210 employees working on projects of limited duration, with a budget of approximately 2 million additional euros per year. The BUL operates a “manuscript center” (of which there are a total of six in Germany) dedicated to medieval manuscripts. The BUL is also processing and digitizing its 83,000 coins and other treasures.
Interview by Xavier Libbrecht