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Libraries & Culture 36.3 (2001) 481-483

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Book Review

Bibliothekswissenschaft in Berlin

Bibliothekswissenschaft in Berlin. By Horst Kunze, Engelbert Plassmann, Renate Rohde, Walter Umstätter, and Peter Zahn. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 1999. 147 pp. DM 78,00. ISBN 3-447-04210-9.

Library science has a rich tradition in Berlin. This tradition has been an integral part of the manifold changes that have taken place in the larger political scenery of Germany as a formerly separated and now reunited country in the middle of Europe. Just as German history is characterized by plentiful political changes, so also the Institute for Library Science at the Humboldt University Berlin has experienced dramatic changes. The Institute, which is the home institution of the contributing authors, was newly constituted in the early 1990s after the library school from the western part of the formerly divided city merged with the older institution in the eastern section, because the existence of two similar institutions in the now united city could not be justified anymore. [End Page 482]

Bibliothekswissenschaft in Berlin is a collection of articles in the German language that try to reflect the new beginning of library science in Berlin. The Institute's acting dean, Konrad Umlauf, emphasizes in his introductory notes that the new beginning can also be seen in the distinctive origins along with the social and cultural backgrounds of the contributing authors. In addition, he provides useful information about the different pathways that library science took in the partitioned city of Berlin after World War II. He states clearly the subjects that are offered by the Institute for any interested student and not available anywhere else in Germany as a course of study in another university.

The volume is comprised of five essays. Each is enhanced by notes, a short biography, and a list of selected publications of the contributing author. Although an index is missing, the book format of the volume, the good paper quality, and the chosen typeface make the entire volume a pleasure to read, and it will find interested readers in the library science community all over the world.

The first article by Renate Rohde, who worked as a lecturer at the Institute from 1976 to 1997, provides a well-structured history of library science education in Germany and covers milestones until 1955, the year of the establishment of the Institute for Library Science at the Humboldt University Berlin. Rohde continues in even more detail with the history and educational offerings of the Institute after 1955. She describes the educational goals and contents of the curriculum and gives short explanations of all the possible tracks that were available at the Institute, including different definitions of the subject of library science. Rohde also reflects on continuing education, exhibition activities, conferences, and research involving the Institute. Her contribution provides a good pathway through the jungle of educational offerings and activities, but it does not or cannot cover the same activities for the Institute in the former western part of the city. This is a shortcoming, and only Umlauf's introductory notes clarify this period, but he does so with less detail.

Horst Kunze (1909-2000) continues with an essay based on his last speech at the Institute in 1994. The author was one of the most prominent figures in German library affairs. He served as the director of the German State Library from 1950 to 1977 and headed the Institute after its establishment from 1955 to 1968. Kunze's article is devoted to the German Ständebuch (Book of Trades) in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He emphasizes the importance of the engravings of Jost Amman (1539-91) and his successors whose illustrations depicted a variety of craftsmen and their tools in this unique source for historical research. Kunze points out that book illustration reflects societal developments and that illustrations in books compared to earlier drawings or paintings contributed remarkably to what is known about history today.

Peter Zahn's article is based on a speech that he gave in 1994. Zahn, who came from the Institute in the western part of Berlin to the Institute...


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