An insight into the world of the TIB

Dr Silke Lesemann, Member of the State Parliament, visits the TIB Rethen site

“The work that the TIB does is really impressive. It is a modern library that focuses on digitisation – and it vividly demonstrates how important libraries are for society and science,” was the conclusion of Dr Silke Lesemann, Member of the State Parliament.

The SPD politician visited the TIB Rethen site on 9 June 2022 to find out more about the work of the TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology. Lesemann is the SPD state parliamentary group’s spokesperson for science and culture and a member of the state parliament for Laatzen, Pattensen and Sehnde.

More than a library

TIB Director Prof. Dr. Sören Auer explained the wide-ranging tasks of the TIB to the member of parliament in a discussion. There are, of course, the “classic” library tasks such as acquiring and cataloguing media and interacting with users on site. But they also include licence negotiations with major academic publishers and tasks such as long-term preservation and digitisation of media. There are various platforms developed or established by TIB: for example, the TIB AV-Portal, a video portal for scientific films, or an Open Access platform for publishing scientific journals and conference publications.

“Openness is a big topic at TIB, we are committed to Open Access and open science”, emphasised Prof. Dr. Sören Auer. “As an information centre for the digitisation of science and technology, we are working to make knowledge and information freely available, to share it and to preserve cultural heritage,” said Auer.

He also presented the Open Research Knowledge Graph (ORKG), which TIB is working on. The top research project from Lower Saxony is intended to enable a rapid exchange of the current state of research on important topics and thus help solve global problems. Using the example of studies on reproduction figures of COVID-19, Auer showed how scientific findings can be exchanged and networked more quickly with the help of the ORKG and how crises can be better managed as a result.

Tour of the TIB Rethen site

Dr Silke Lesemann was then able to experience a small section of the TIB’s diverse tasks at first hand during her tour of the external magazine. Dawn Wehrhahn, the person responsible for the Rethen site, guided the politician through the magazine, which was once a carpet wholesaler. The 17,000 square metre building houses a total of 3.6 million media, 12,000 of which are current journals. Lined up end to end, the media on the shelves would cover a distance of 111 kilometres.

A special treasure at the Rethen site is the IWF films, which the TIB took over in 2012 from the former IWF Wissen und Medien gGmbH in Göttingen (formerly the Institute for Scientific Film).

The impressive collection of scientific films dating back to the 1920s comprises around 11,500 films. The TIB is digitising the films and making them available online in its AV portal. More than 3,000 films are freely accessible there, and more will follow step by step. Miriam Reiche, conservator and conservation coordinator, and Thomas Bähr, head of conservation and digital long-term preservation, explained to Dr Silke Lesemann how digitisation is carried out, what problems arise in the process and what challenges have to be overcome in digital long-term preservation.

The next stop on the tour was the archive of the TIB/Universitätsarchiv Hannover. Dr Silke Lesemann, who has worked in archives for several years herself, had the head of the archive, Lars Nebelung, show her, among other things, lecture registers and register books from Leibniz University and its predecessor institutions.

The tour ended at the retro-digitisation: there, books and also individual sheets are digitised at scanning workstations: So far, the TIB has digitised more than 9,000 volumes and 6,800 individual pages; in 2021 alone, there were almost 600,000 pages.