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"In Good Order But Poor Condition" - ILAB Patron of Honour Dr. Michael Knoche in F.A.Z.

"In Good Order But Poor Condition" - ILAB Patron of Honour Dr. Michael Knoche in F.A.Z.

The former director of the Anna Amalia Library in Weimar and ILAB Patron of Honour recently wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper about digitisation, book restoration and the state of Germany's libraries. 

"In Good Order But Poor Condition" is an interesting read about the importance of digitisation, but also about the need for research material not only to be available in digitised format.

To conduct proper research one has to be able to handle the actual object. The inventory of German libraries is in a fairly poor condition. The use of acidic paper for more modern publications post-1850 are a reason for serious concern. While older collections are literally "falling apart" due to the very limited investment in the restoration of their bindings for many decades. Important collections and works are therefore often not accessible.  

Since 2015, guidelines have been drawn up to act upon this critical situation. The German national government has approved funds but the individual "Länder", Germany's regional governments, have not yet come to an agreement about how to allocate them.  

Digitisation is a way of protecting the original works and making the content widely available. But also here, targets have not been achieved and much of Germany's library inventory is still not digitised, neither is it accessible "offline" due to poor condition.
Knoche compliments Germany's neighbouring countries for implementing programmes that have been far more efficient and have achieved much wider reach. 

"In Good Order But Poor Condition" - ILAB Patron of Honour Dr. Michael Knoche in F.A.Z.

"Zu den gemeinsamen gesellschaftlichen Merkmalen der europäischen Kultur gehört die fundamentale Bedeutung der Schrift. Fast alle Nationen empfinden es als ehrenvolle Pflicht, ihre in Jahrhunderten entstandene schriftliche Überlieferung in das gemeinsame Haus Europa einzubringen. Ausgerechnet Deutschland lässt seine Originale unsichtbar in den Magazinen und riskiert ihren physischen Verfall, als ob die deutschen Bibliotheken nicht schon im Zweiten Weltkrieg fünfzehn Millionen Bände verloren hätten."

"The fundamental importance of language and the written word is one of the most important attributes of European culture. Almost all nations perceive this as their honourable obligation, to contribute their historical heritage to our common European home. But it is here in Germany where the original works are kept in storage, invisible, and their physical deterioration is risked  - despite German libraries already having lost 15 million volumes during WWII".   

The entire article can be found, in German, on this link

Dr. Michael Knoche was the director of the Anna Amalia Library in Weimar from 1991 - 2016.  When the library burnt down in 2004 he himself rescued some of the extremely rare books that were kept there, among them a first edition of Martin Luther’s bible from the year 1534. Dr. Michael Knoche risked his own life to save the life of the books which are part of the German cultural heritage. After 2004, he was responsible for the rebuilding of the library, the restoration of the books which were damaged by fire and water, and the acquisition of new books to compensate the irretrievable losses. Under Michael Knoche’s leadership the Anna Amalia Library has become again the beautiful Rococo library it once was and is attracting visitors and researchers from Germany and abroad.

Published since 02 Aug 2017

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