Knihovna – Liberec in Czech Republic

Linked with Vera Vohlidalova – Czech, and with Deutsch-Tschechisches Forum der Frauen.

Bibliothek-Library in Liberec, Building of Peace and Reconciliation, under the patronage of the presidents of Czech Republic and Germany.

This project links the library and the synagogue of Liberec in perfect harmony and will give each its own building for the first time in more than 50 years. It is both the first public library with a collection of this size and breadth to be built in the country in 70 years and the first new synagogue to be built in the Czech Republic (former Czechoslovakia) since World War Two. This new building project will present a library as an institution which not only takes care of various documents but also provides information of all kinds including among other things access to both historical and current information on many cultures, lands and peoples.

This new House of Prayer is to be not only a place of meeting for the Jews of the region but also both a symbol of human understanding and an act of symbolic compensation. The Library and House of Prayer will serve as a reminder that people of various beliefs, colour and cultures have lived, do and will always live in and among us. Thanks to moral and financial support from many sides it is a symbol of joining and of shaking hands over mutually lived history to a shared future.

Universal services – available to everyone. The library serves especially:

* as a local public library with a wide range of non-fiction and popular scientific literature
* as a district library for neighbouring districts working under the district library authorities for the local public libraries there; the library also operates as the Service and Counseling Centre for these and other types of libraries in the town and district
* as a regional universal research library with a wide range of printed and audio-visual documents (books, magazines, sheet-music, maps, patents, standards, records and CDs, videos, etc.), the majority of which may be accessed on the electronic database
* as an information centre for bibliographical and factographical references on the database. The above mentioned documents and the database mainly serve the public with a wide variety of information but also cover certain specialist areas (i.e., the textile and the glassmaking industries) as well as a wide range of historical and modern regional documents (see below). All in all, the library contains more than one million sources of information.
* The library also offers Internet access to its readers.

Special services – mainly useful for and offered to the public professional sector

The library is a part of a public information service network which reflects the character of the region and identifies strongly with the activities of the Euroregion Nisa, an area encompassing the Czech, Polish and German regions of Northern Bohemia, lower Silesia and south-east Saxony respectively.

The services offered are determined by the information and document resources of the library and also on the needs of current and potential users.

The special services of the library are primarily focused on Liberec and its surroundings. Because of their uniqueness and scope, however, some of these are of international significance as well.
They include for example:

* a collection of historical and current regional books and documents covering Czech-German relations and the German minority in the area which is being put into the database,
* a collection of Germanica in Czech Lands, i.e. documents written by Germans who lived in Czechoslovakia. The material has been put on the database and will also be available in the neighbouring regions of Austria, Germany and Poland as part of a collaborative effort for an ongoing joint catalogue; this work is in essence a continuation and modernisation of the activities of the national library of Germans who lived in Czechoslovakia, “Bücherei der Deutschen”, in the years 1924-1945; their holdings are an important starting point for this larger and growing collection,
* the Austrian collection (Austriaca).

Changes and developments in services in the new library

A very important part of the informational and educational services of a library is that of culture. Culture is not only an uplifting of the human spirit, human art, thought and enjoyment but it also includes the art of basic human understanding, listening to, helping and assisting one another, of knowing oneself as well as others. These essential principles from the heart of the project, and the aim of furthering and enabling their realisation has guided the design of the new library. In this open house it will not only be possible to conduct research but also to read, study, enjoy and connect with the wider world of information through the electronic network.

Documents on various media which were hidden somewhere in closed areas and presented only in catalogues are now available to the public on open shelves.

All services and opportunities are open to all regardless of age, race, disability, or area of interest as well as to the stray visitor looking for information on the town and region or simply for a pleasant respite along the way.

It is the library’s goal that each and every visitor’s needs will be met, whether for resting places, relaxation, comfortable spaces, refreshment, entertainment or for areas conducive to concentration, study and scientific research.

The reason behind this present project is to prepare for the flexibility required in offering a modern, capable and efficient service to the public. The building is prepared to change and re-arrange its spaces as necessary or desirable according to changing social or cultural requirements.

The emphasis throughout is placed on the visitors freedom of movement according to his or her own individual needs and interests, and on enabling readers to choose how they access information (form), what information they find (content), and how much information they call up and have at their disposal (scope) from the broad range available.

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