Library Act (2004) is the main legal regulation document for libraries’ activities. It defines the library network and describes main functions of each library type. It also states that each municipality has to establish public library. The network of branches and funding issues for everyday operations are decided by a local municipal council, thus the situation in municipalities may differ.
The Ministry of Culture in accordance with the Library Act and strategic documents provides some funding for public libraries, mainly for new documents’ acquisition and centralized subscription to generic data bases, development of public access computers and internet and library buildings renovation. In 2011 state funding for public libraries slightly increased, though is lower than in 2008.
Secondly: the Social order and the essential funding
The social order for the libraries is issued – but the challenges to meet him are rapidly increasing.
Public libraries are to offer their clients not only different media. They should provide reading areas and computer workstations. Special programs for early childhood language development make children strong word. For adults, there are regular readings and a broad range of trainings.
Let me begin with a quote from the writer Rafiq Shami:
“Libraries are secret windows; you can look through them to other countries, cultures and hearts”.
This is a fitting picture I suppose even for the German libraries. For years, they work to ensure that these windows are open for as many people as possible. But this is a task that urgently needs some basics. I would like to talk about two of them. Both are current topics of the discussion in Germany.
First: Library laws
At the EU level are already set standards. Two thirds of all countries have library laws. In order to adapt to the rapid development of information society in recent years almost all have been updated. Germany this development is lagging behind. The German Libraries an their Associations therefore work on many levels for the nationwide introduction of library laws. But this is no easy task. Legislative power lies with the 16 German states on this issue. And they take their time, although the Study Commission on Culture in Germany of the German Parliament recommended in late 2007 to adopt library laws and to establish public libraries as a public task and an obvious commitment to finance. After all, there are exceptions: In 2008 is entered as the first state in Thuringia a library law in force. Although the tasks of local libraries are not mentioned as a public duty in this Act – however, it is a valuable beginning. Saxony-Anhalt is the model followed in June of this year. In early September, in Hesse was passed the third law. So does hope that other states will follow. Libraries are the most widely used cultural and educational institutions in Germany. They are forward-looking places of free access to knowledge, learning and research. In a republic of education they deserve reliability. ·
- There are 10.855 libraries in Germany
- 303.600 events a year take place in a library
- There are 660.000 visits to libraries every day
- 10.82 million readers in the libraries are registered
- There are 200 million visits to libraries each year
- 362 million media are in the libraries
- 466 million media are borrowed annually.
These are the reasons why it is important to talk about another basic need of the libraries.