Libraries will be out of date

Nine sentences that prove that you haven't seen the inside of a library in a long time

In America, the phrase “Don't mess with librarians!” - don't mess with librarians! - legendary for a long time. So that you don't run the risk of messing up with your librarian, here are the nine sentences that we don't like to hear 😉 Including my explanation of why this is so.

The Internet does exist - who still needs libraries there?

Isn't everything in the library available online? Even if this assumption is obvious: The figures on this and current social developments show that it is not true that libraries are used less. According to the “Report on the State of the Libraries”, there are around 10 million active library users in Germany, which is around every eighth German. There are a total of around 10,000 library locations that were visited 219 million times by users in 2016. The total number of visits to the Munich City Library in 2016 was over five gigantic million. Nowadays, public libraries in particular are aware that, in order to survive in a modern information society, they have to say goodbye to the attitude of wanting to be purely a “haven of education”. Rather, they should be a saving island for people in the wild waters of the Internet and newsfeed, on which they can get an overview of the sea of ​​information and learn the tools to be able to sail and survive in this sea.

Certainly there is a lot that the libraries offer, also on the Internet. Often, however, it is not clear to users in Munich, for example, that with a library card they have so much more access than just CDs and books: In addition to using the online library and the English-language eBook portal Overdrive, they have access to scientifically sound Databases such as the Munzinger Archive, Lexis or DigiBib. These are reliable sources that can also be cited. Not to mention the access to the English-language audio books of the Naxos Spoken Word Library, hundreds of magazines and newspapers in all languages ​​of the world via access to the so-called PressReader. Libraries can do MORE than the Internet. And the saying goes: “Google has 100,000 answers. But a librarian has the right one. "

In a few years there won't be any more libraries anyway.

People only read digitally anyway, how can libraries keep up? I will come back to the topic of digital media, eBooks and online lending later. Just this much: while I am sitting here at this text, there are an unbelievable 55,000 digital media in the Munich City Library's online library, and the trend has been increasing for years.

Classic library work, reading promotion and the development and communication of media will continue to be one of the core areas of work. But libraries are also there to promote and develop urgently needed, all-encompassing media literacy and security in handling digital media, a point that is already very important and will certainly be expanded in the coming years. In the further future, large physical stocks will decrease, but also in order to create more space, because this is needed: after all, libraries offer different programs for kindergartens and schools, different offers for adults, supervised language courses and integrative learning for German learners and also special ones Offers for retirees and seniors. Public libraries are a non-commercial space where everyone is welcome to use the program tailored to their target group or to organize one themselves. The internet should imitate us first!

You don't look like a librarian at all!

Aka: Librarians wear pleated skirts, cardigans and buns (and to laugh, go to the basement in this outfit). I've heard it a couple of times as a comment when asked what I do: “You don't look like a librarian at all!” This statement leaves a queasy feeling: Is that supposed to be a compliment? Admit it: if you think of a librarian, you have a certain image in your head. An old young girl with a bun and beige cardigan, her punishing look over her thick horn-rimmed glasses - with a chain of glasses, of course! - destroys anyone who brings their media back too late. (The same applies to her male pedant, who may then be wearing a beige tank top.) A nasty cliché that is simply not true! Of course, some of us wear glasses, with or without chains, and there are certainly colleagues for whom beige cardigans look great. But there is no “mark” by which you can recognize librarians. They are available in all versions, some prefer to wear casual clothes, others dress more chic, there are long-haired, bald, white and brown-haired, young and old (and middle-aged), pierced and tattooed, large and small, loud and quiet librarians. For example, anyone who happens to come across me at the information desk is welcome to admire my nose ring. As in all kinds of professions, we are very different characters with different styles, and that's a good thing! And we laugh when and where it suits us.


There is nothing for me in libraries! (Do they even have DVDs?)

Anyone who is not an active user of the offer of the Munich City Library and otherwise rarely sees a library from the inside could actually still attach these more than outdated statements. On the one hand, our inventory is always up-to-date: every week, new media are ordered for the inventory from different areas, from lists of offers that our speakers, after carefully reviewing the media market, paying special attention to all new releases, audience favorites, but also the “underdogs "Put together. On the other hand, of course, we also have older media, but what we put on our shelves always corresponds to what the publishers are currently bringing out. Libraries these days have books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, console games, and board games in their physical inventory. And that's not all: Many libraries now have eBook portals, some in association with other libraries in the region. With a user ID you have access to thousands of eBooks, eVideos and eLearning tutorials on all kinds of topics. Libraries in Germany provide around 500 million titles; users of public libraries in Germany borrowed 20.2 million digital media in 2016 alone!

As an aside: There are libraries that actually lend out plant seeds - once you have sown these successfully, you bring back a few seeds from your harvest. Other libraries also lend tools, for example, or paintings and sculptures by local artists, which you can then display at home for a few months.

You have to be quiet in libraries. Always. Otherwise: PSSSSST !!!

As is often the case in life, this statement is not correct on its own - but it is also not wrong. In academic libraries, such as the Bavarian State Library, it is clear that the reading room is quiet - after all, many students and other docile minds come here to study and, for example, to write their theses and other papers. There are also areas in Munich's city library that are quiet, such as in the magazine reading room or in the study areas.


But with all the event work that takes place in libraries, constant silence would not be feasible. Libraries often have generously equipped children's areas which, if the spatial conditions permit, are designed in such a way that the children can be a little louder away from the adult readers. Libraries nowadays see themselves as a place that invites you to learn, a learning that also happens through experience, touch, grasping and laughing. And it is clear that this cannot always be done quietly.

Only librarians work in libraries - if you can even speak of “work”: They read all day or dust off books!

This is something that users accept again and again in everyday library life. But that is by no means true. Of course, librarians work in the Munich City Library. These are the colleagues you see sitting behind the information counter. Or those who read something to a bunch of children or program robots with them. Or those who set the mic for the authors at readings or bring a glass of water. Sometimes you can also see them shedding a tear because they have to copy a batch of books that are no longer so easy to borrow. And sometimes you see these colleagues very happy because there is still more book budget available than expected and they can order new media. In any case, we by no means have time to read all day. We have to do that - like everyone else - after work. And if the stock gets dusty, then you've done something wrong anyway! Because only books that no one borrows are dusty.

In a library, however, there are also numerous so-called technical employees who make sure that all practical processes work. Their work differs from library to library, but what they have in common is that you cannot open the doors in the morning without the technical colleagues: Among other things, they are responsible for staffing the service counter, cashier transactions, hiring and all kinds of organizational matters. Another group is the FaMis - an abbreviation for "Fachangestelle / r für Medien und Informationsdienste", the apprenticeship in the library industry. In a very simplified way, one can imagine these colleagues as an "interface" between librarians and technical colleagues; they are at home in both areas. And as if these three groups weren't enough, there are still FaMi trainees in training, library assistants (according to the former training), interns, volunteers, assistants, lecturers ...

You are a librarian?!? Is not that boring?

Phew This myth persists and always gets on my tail when I look at me from top to bottom as soon as I tell what I work as. "What," is then said, "now please explain to me what motivates a young person to work in a library: Isn't it boring to sort books all day?"

1. No.


2. No!


3. OH NO.



... You notice that I could go on forever in my indignation, which always arises over the subject. Because libraries - and I am speaking here for public libraries; to go into scientific research would go beyond any framework - they are the opposite of boring, they are in fact in a constant state of flux. Libraries have so many tasks: to make knowledge and information available to everyone free of charge or inexpensively, they offer an open space for all citizens, they are a meeting place for entire cities, villages and neighborhoods. They do this with an up-to-date range of media, long opening times, open Saturdays and new (digital) formats. Libraries are exciting and stimulating venues: In 2016, German libraries organized a total of 384,000 events, almost half of which were for children! Because libraries are ALSO for children, but not only. Of course, especially in public libraries like the Munich City Library, attention is paid to promoting reading and making media accessible to children. In fact, there were 2,237 events in 2016 for children and young people, but that is in the nature of things - learning (to love) to read and imparting media skills are very important in these target groups. But the offers for adults in libraries are also impressive, such as author readings and writing workshops, discussion groups and reading groups, language courses and film series! And that's just a small excerpt ...

Librarians are not allowed to be disturbed.

As a library user, you know it: you walk past the information counter and the librarians sit there and concentrate on their work on the screen. SO concentrated that some users may not dare to “disturb” us. But: You don't bother us at all! Because the screen work that we do in our “counter hours” is the actual side work when there is less going on in the so-called public area. Because we actually only sit there at the counters to be there for you as a contact person, to help and to advise you on research and media selection. So, trust and ask - I mean, I can say that all of my colleagues will be happy to respond to a friendly “Hello, can you help me?”

And it all ends with a fall from the book ladder ...

Do you also know the picture: the bald, long-bearded librarian on a high ladder in a dark study room lined with mountains of books? And if you represent yourself on the ladder ... huijuijui. At least in the district libraries of the Munich City Library we do not have such ladders, but unfortunately I cannot speak for other libraries. However, there is actually one sudden cause of death that colleagues seem to fear and a quick survey of the team revealed: sudden death in the workplace from falling shelves! Fortunately, with the good protection in the workplace that we enjoy, that is impossible ... 😉

If you can't get enough of facts and figures about the world of libraries, please click here: This is the link to "Report on the State of the Libraries 2017/18"

Featured Image: Alan Lin / Unsplash