Spectacular architecture, outstanding services – the new University Library is on trial operation

Dienstag, 4. August 2015 | 

Schlagwörter »  |  Thema: englisch

In 2009 construction on the old University Library in the centre of Freiburg started. On 21 July the new architecturally spectacular University Library opened its doors for trial operation.  “The University of Freiburg’s heart is beating again,” proclaims Rector Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer. The concept of the new library is likely to catch on: Librarians from across Europe have already shown interest in taking a tour of the new University Library.

Viewed from north the Freiburg Opera House is mirrored in the glass front of the new University Library. Photo: Sandra Meyndt
Viewed from north the Freiburg Opera House is mirrored in the glass front of the new University Library. Photo: Sandra Meyndt

With more than three million volumes of printed books and journals as well as extensive historical holdings, the Freiburg University Library is one of the most important research libraries in Germany. In addition, it offers access to almost 51,000 subscribed electronic journals and more than one million e-books. There is a trend toward digital publication, and the library’s historical holdings are also currently being made available online through retro-digitization. The library of the 21st century is thus much more than a repository for books, says Director of the University Library Dr. Antje Kellersohn: “We want to be the university’s comprehensive information and media provider and central learning and communication center” – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The new University Library lives up to this claim. It offers 1700 modern workspaces, and patrons can check out and return media without the help of a librarian using a wireless data-transfer system (RFID). Conference rooms are separated from spaces for individual work: The south part of the first four floors, with views to the Vosges, the Black Forest, and the old town, accommodates reading rooms with 1200 individual workspaces and 230,000 volumes. The north part, which looks out on the Platz der Alten Synagoge, includes 500 spaces for group work, a room for exhibitions and events, seminar rooms, and a cafeteria. Another 700,000 volumes are freely accessible in the open stacks on the first underground floor, and where cars used to park there are now parking spaces for 400 bicycles. The closed stacks on the second and third underground floors provide space for an additional 3.5 million volumes. Another special feature is the University Library’s new Media Center, which brings together the cross-media student editorial team uniCross, including uni.tv, the university radio station echoFM 88.4, and the online editorial staff in a single building for the first time ever. Occupying 800 meters of space on the third floor, the Media Center includes two radio studios and a television studio. The fifth floor, where most of the library’s employees work, has an open office landscape that promotes exchange, while at the same time providing possibilities for concentrated work and private meetings.

There are hardly any inside walls in the entire University Library, and there is neither a great hall nor a representative foyer. This allows for flexibility and optimal use of the available space. The concept is also energy-efficient: The usable space is just as large as in the previous building, but the surface area is nearly one-third smaller. The solar-control windows on the outer shell are triple-insulated, and the indoor temperature is held constant by means of well water and heat recovery. It is thus predicted that the new University Library will require up to 65 percent less energy than the previous building. Electricity is provided by a 2,000-square meter urban photovoltaic system on the roof.

The official opening is planned for fall 2015. Subsequently, the University Library will hold an open house, guided tours, and further events for the interested public.

Source: Poppen & Ortmann KG, Freiburg / Frei-Luftbilder.de, Freiburg

Further information:

– Dates and facts (German)

– Homepage of the University Library (German)

– Leaflet for the trial operation (German)

– Bird’s eye perspective of the new University Library

– Photo gallery

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