Innovations in Libraries: Impressions of a Study Trip to the Netherlands

Guest article by Alena Behrens

From 25 to 28 October 2022, I set out to get to know the Dutch library system as part of a study trip organised by Bibliothek & Information International. Together with 19 other employees from libraries all over Germany, I explored nine cities and their libraries. The stops on our trip were

  1. the Rozet Library in Arnheim,
  2. the Library in DePetrus Church in Vught,
  3. the Library LocHal in Tilburg,
  4. the Library Chocolade Fabriek in Gouda,
  5. the Erasmus University Library in Rotterdam,
  6. the Library DOK in Delft,
  7. the Library OBA in Amsterdam,
  8. the Library De Korenbeurs in Schiedam and
  9. the Neude Library in Utrecht.

Stations of the study trip through the Netherlands on 25.10. – 28.10.2022, map by


This report summarises some of the many special features and experiences of the trip.

„You have to change to stay the same.”

This quote by the painter Willem De Kooning is the motto of the Ministerie van Verbeelding, the Ministry of Imagination. This is not an official ministry, but a collective of architects, designers and librarians. They are the brains behind many of the impressive new library concepts and buildings, some of which we were able to visit on this journey. Rob Bruijnzeels is part of this collective. He accompanied us for a while to give us an insight into the work and structure of the Dutch library world.

To remain relevant and interesting, libraries must adapt to changes in society. In the Netherlands, for example, it is taken for granted that they offer consultation hours for advice on e-government. The self-image as a Third Place is also already omnipresent there. Public libraries are perceived as the living rooms of cities and are used accordingly.

A different organisational form and an efficient design of the work processes make this possible, as Rob Bruijnzeels explains to us further. In the Netherlands, public libraries are private initiatives and foundations. Although they also receive money from the municipality, they are not as dependent on it as in Germany. This gives them greater freedom. In addition, libraries of several municipalities often join together in a large library organisation that manages the organisation and central tasks (media purchasing and processing, management, staff organisation).

The Dutch have a long tradition as merchants. This mentality is also reflected in the country today. If something can be organised more efficiently and better, it is done that way. Departments for cataloguing and book processing no longer exist in the individual libraries. These tasks are taken over by a service provider. Because many libraries participate in this, it is cheaper than running individual departments everywhere. The staff can thus be used more efficiently in the programme work.

Library: not for everyone, but by everyone

Jan van Bergen en Henegouwen from the library De Korenbeurs in Schiedam introduced this principle to us. But it can also be found in other public libraries in the Netherlands. What is meant by this is that the library’s visitors participate in its development.

This is possible, on the one hand, through numerous volunteers. The library in Schiedam works with about 300 of them. A number that surprised all participants of the study journey. No one could have imagined this for Germany and our institutions. However, volunteer work has a long tradition in the Netherlands and is an important part of society. For many, it is a matter of course to get involved in their free time. That is why libraries with few staff and short opening hours, for example, can still offer many events. Our guided tours on the trip were also taken over by volunteers most of the time, only rarely did we speak to permanent library staff.

In this context, the term “community library” came up again and again. Everyone can get involved on a voluntary basis. Events are often organised at request of visitors. This way, the librarians know that there is a real need for a topic and what their target groups are interested in.

This system is complemented by a wide range of self-service offers. Visitors can borrow and return media themselves at the stations provided for this purpose. “Everyone becomes a librarian,” explains Rob Bruijnzeels. Consequently, there are hardly any classic lending or service counters left in Dutch libraries; instead, there are distributed information points. The open design lowers the inhibition threshold to ask for advice. The offers should be designed as low-threshold as possible in order to be an open meeting place for all residents of the community. The visitors are given a lot of personal responsibility, which creates a trusting relationship in the library and with its services.

Impressive and unusual architecture

The unusual and innovative architecture of some of the institutions visited should not go unmentioned. The libraries in the towns of Vught and Schiedam stand out in particular. When I entered the buildings, I didn’t have the feeling that I was entering a library.

In Vught the library was built into an old church. This creates a special sense of space. With workstations in the look of confessionals, the two places are fluidly connected. In addition, the library merges seamlessly into a museum and a Third World shop. The combination of different offers has been very successful here.

In Schiedam I had the impression of entering a greenhouse. The covered inner courtyard has been landscaped with many plants to create a cosy garden where visitors enjoy spending time. The quote from the Roman orator Cicero “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need” has been completely realised here.

But there are also impressive libraries in Gouda and Tilburg that naturally echo the history of the buildings. In Gouda, the current library building was initially a chocolate factory. The building was converted into a library by adding false ceilings and walls. On the floor, there are drawings of the chocolate-making machines that used to be there. In this way, you also learn something about the processes of the old factory.

LocHal Tilburg, on the other hand, used to be a workshop for locomotives, as the name suggests. You can still see this today in the impressive size of the hall. But the crane for lifting the locomotives under the hall ceiling and a history corner also bear witness to this. Here, old pictures of the workshop are on display and former employees talk about their work.

In all the innovative power that lies within the libraries, there are always references back to the history of the buildings. This connection contributes to the charm of the libraries and provides an insight into the past of the city.

Conclusion on the study trip to the Netherlands

This journey exceeded all my expectations and showed once again that it is always worthwhile to look beyond one’s own nose. Libraries in the Netherlands are rightly regarded by us as innovative and forward-looking. I can only recommend taking part in exchange programmes and study trips when the opportunity arises.

Together with 19 other employees from libraries all over Germany, I explored nine cities and their libraries

Everyone benefits from exchanging ideas, learning from each other and being inspired.

Background to the study trip to the Netherlands

The study trip (German) was organised by BI-International (BII). BII is a permanent commission of the Library and Information in Germany – Federal Union of German Library Associations (BID), which promotes international professional exchange in the library sector. Together with the Goethe Institute, BII also supported the trip financially. Marc de Lange from ekz benelux was our tour guide. I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks for the partial invitation. My personal opinion is not influenced by this.

This text has been translated from German.

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About the author:

Alena Behrens works as a librarian in the user services department at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. In addition to working at the service desk, her work focuses on the areas of user experience, library as a place of learning and information mediation. She can also be found on Twitter.
Portrait: Alena Behrens©

The post Innovations in Libraries: Impressions of a Study Trip to the Netherlands first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Back to the Future: Amazing Discoveries in a Futurology Card Index from the 1980s

Guest article by Anna Kasprzik

The principle of knowledge organisation

Semantics is the study of meaning, and knowledge organisation is semantics made explicit. A great deal of the time I have spent studying, engaged with my Ph.D., and working has been taken up with these two topics and I particularly love eccentric examples of them, such as Luhmann’s card index (German).

During my librarian traineeship in Munich, our subject indexing lecturer Gabriele Meßmer left a lasting impression on me when she told us how, many years ago, she had to beg for three years (!) as a little light at a large German library to be allowed to sort cards into the subject catalogue, because at that time only officially qualified subject indexers in the higher service were allowed to do so – I guess that at some point she wore down the resistance of her superiors. Later she was very eager to follow how the library world entered into electronic data-processing, initially with punch cards … and, after several decades of persistent work on the topic, she became one of the leading lights in the world of committees and education regarding subject indexing in the German library system. Now she is retired. Her unwavering passion for knowledge organisation moved and inspired me.

A few years ago, when I had recently arrived at ZBW, I was therefore delighted to be allowed to rummage around in the card indexes in Kiel, which contained the precursors of the Thesaurus for Economics (STW) … and was pleased to find a set of particularly interesting cards. I was all the more alarmed when I heard rumours this spring that these boxes were to “go over the ramp” (or something like that, I couldn’t help thinking of “walk the plank”) – “oh no! I absolutely have to save ‘futurology’!” ?

Photo 1: Futurology card index

Fortunately I was able to infect my superiors with my impetuosity and in a cloak and dagger operation (ok, it was actually during a regular site trip to Kiel in broad daylight), I was allowed to “extract” the box and evacuate it via the internal mail to my office in Hamburg, where it is now safely stored. Since then, this box has been an endless source of amusement whenever I need a break from the more serious side of our work.

A melange of meta-levels resembling an Escher painting

Why was I so fascinated by “futurology” in particular? Or to put it the other way round: What’s not to like? For nerdy semantics enthusiasts, futurology and this box with cards dating from the 1960s to the 1980s represent a huge crazy bouquet of meta-levels and mind-blowing twists – a (not-at-all complete) list:

  • In bygone days people thought about the future, and I am now in their future, thinking about the people who in the past thought about the future …
  • Futurology (also known as future studies) isn’t merely concerned with the future, however, but with the science of thinking about the future …
  • The cards in this box deal with literature that represents the contemporary view of the science of how one should best think about the future and how people are thinking about the future …
  • … and the knowledge organisation system back then tried to use the keyword “futurology” to classify literature that represents the contemporary view of the science of how … and so on.

How many meta-levels is that already? Never mind, I’m feeling pleasantly dizzy.

I was also fascinated to discover how much one can glean from the titles – without having read the listed publications themselves! – about the attitude to life at that time, and perspectives at that time on the next century, and how shockingly visionary or also how shockingly up-to-date these perspectives still are. Some things were simply amusing, others made me choke on a cynical laugh.

I thought I would share a few examples with you in this blog post and add my two cents’ worth ( ? ) as well.

An astonishingly clairvoyant potpourri of visions

“Too stupid for the future? People from yesterday in the world of tomorrow” (German, publ. by Theo Löbsack, 1971)
? Apparently, people were scared of being left behind 50 years ago as well…


“The desire for doom. Pessimistic future prognoses, a modern illness?” (German, Ivo Frenzel, special issue “Zukunft konkret”, 1978)
? Now we can answer this question too: Whether it’s illness or a valid immune response, it is still rampant – you simply have to scroll through Twitter for half an hour.


“The most dangerous years since the Ice Age. Our future up to the year 2000” (German, Karl Deutsch, “Presentations in the context of the gala to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Edeka juniors group”, 1980)
? “The most dangerous years”? Wait until the year 2020, you ain’t seen nothing yet …


“Only one working day per week in the future? Microelectronics and its social consequences” (German, Frank Niess, 1981)
? Also highly topical! From fears of being cast aside due to the progress of automation through to pandemic-accelerated flexibilisation of our working methods and work locations with the help of “microelectronics”… although: to my knowledge, Google and other Silicon Valley companies have not yet managed to compress working hours to a single day per week – dear Civil Service, perhaps a chance for you to make a name for yourself as being particularly innovative…? ?


“The problems with personal privacy in the year 2000” (German, Harry Kalven, 1968 !! )
? There’s almost nothing more I can say about this. They SAW IT COMING! ALL OF IT!


“Wrongly programmed. About the failure of our society in the present and for the future, and what actually needs to happen (German, Karl Steinbuch, 1968)
? Also has a ring of familiarity to it! ? I really wanted to know what “actually needs to happen”, so I started searching for the book and here you are: number 226604144 in EconBiz (German). From the single-view page, you at least get to an amusing review in the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung (German, PDF, from 25.09.1968 )- excerps:

    “This book is aggressive: In an age of sensory overload, information no longer reaches its target without the vehicle of provocation.”
    ? No kidding.

    “The object of this aggression is the ‘hidden world’, by which the author means everything that prevents us from developing a scientific culture based on research and technology.”
    ? Science sceptics! We know about them!

    “A future superiority of computers over the human brain regarding all rational mental processes will make possible the establishment of a ‘cybernetic state’ superior to all previous forms of political organisation. […] “This requires a careful analysis of which principles are suitable for making human life possible and worth living in the engineered world of the future and dense mass society.” That gets to the heart of the matter. Who analyses? Who decides what is valuable and ethical?”
    ? The fear of “artificial intelligence” and all that “it” could come up with – that too is highly topical.

    “But: [this also requires a new faith.] In the quality of the future person, who […] must have not only the opportunity, ‘to develop patterns of thinking and behaviour in freedom, which were previously unknown’. Who has to be not merely […] an original personality, which, as might be expected, does indeed require a high level of optimism, but who must also be more humane, a ‘better person’ in the deepest sense of this hackneyed term. This kind of ‘moral mutation’ would be an innovation in the history of homo sapiens.”
    ? And this 300 years after the dawn of the age of the Enlightenment … oh well. Sic transit gloria mundi. ?

On that note: I hope that you enjoyed this trip “back to the future” and wish you all a pleasant turn of the year. Stay healthy and in good spirits!

P.S.: My journey down the rabbit hole with the previous publication went on ? my parents’ two cents’ worth:

Parent 1: “I think ‘Wrongly programmed’ is on the book swap shelf. I’ll go and see if it’s still there.”
Me: “I wonder if the author ever dreamed that he would end up on the book swap shelf …”
Parent 1: “That was a bestseller. Basically everyone had that book. That means there still must be a lot of copies around that are now being thrown out.”
Parent 2: “Yes, Steinbuch was a technocrat – he didn’t understand much about society. Many people had it in their cabinet at that time, including your grandfather. He was unpopular with the 1968ers and the young Green Movement.”
Ho-hum. ?

Read more

More articles by and with Anna Kasprzik on ZBW MediaTalkk

About the Author:

Dr Anna Kasprzik, coordinator of the automation of subject indexing (AutoSE) at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. Anna’s main focus lies on the transfer of current research results from the areas of machine learning, semantic technologies, semantic web and knowledge graphs into productive operations of subject indexing of the ZBW. You can also find Anna on Mastodon.
Portrait: ZBW©, photographer: Carola Gruebner

The post Back to the Future: Amazing Discoveries in a Futurology Card Index from the 1980s first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

EconStor Survey 2022: Repository Registers Satisfied Users, but More Marketing Efforts Needed

Guest article by Ralf Toepfer, Lisa Schäfer and Olaf Siegert

Back in 2009, the ZBW launched its disciplinary Open Access repository EconStor. Now in 2022, it provides more than 240,000 academic papers from the economics and business studies disciplines, coming from over 600 institutions and about 1000 single authors worldwide. All papers are available in Open Access. After thirteen years of developing and connecting EconStor we thought, it was high time to hear from our research community, what they think about the repository and its services.

In this short report, we would like to present the results of a user survey we conducted this year. First, we will give some background information about the survey and how it was conducted. Then we describe who the actual respondents were. Last but not least, we present some results on specific aspects of the survey.

Background information

The idea to conduct a survey came up in a brainstorm meeting of the EconStor team in 2020. Our aim was to address the following topics:

  • Satisfaction of the research community with EconStor,
  • Environment analysis (which other tools are used in economic research?),
  • Special look at our authors (who is uploading papers on EconStor?),
  • Suggestions for further development.

Since we are no survey experts, we knew, we would have to rely on some external assistance. This was provided from two sides: First, our ZBW marketing team, who had conducted surveys on other issues before. And second, from a course of students in library and information science at the HAW -Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (German). Their professor, Petra Düren, contacted us in spring 2021 to ask for practical examples regarding user surveys. We decided to organise an international EconStor user survey together at the start of 2022. We developed the questionnaire and used Limesurvey as our tool for the survey. After some pretesting, we were ready to start.

The survey was conducted between the 10th and the 24th of January 2022. We promoted it via the EconStor website and through mailings among researchers in Germany and abroad. Overall, we received 756 responses, of which 441 were fully completed questionnaires.

Profile of respondents

Most of the respondents came from Europe (87%): Half of them (45%) was based in Germany, other major European countries were Italy (16%), Spain (5%) and France (4%). From the rest of the world about 3% overall came from the United States and 3% from Australia.

Regarding their affiliations, most respondents were coming from universities (78%), another 10% were from universities of applied sciences and 6% from non-university research organisations. The rest mainly came from central banks or the private sector.

With regard to the age of the participants, we received fairly even answers from different age groups according to the academic career span: i.e. 9% were younger than 30 years, 45% were between 30 and 49 years and 56% were 50 years or older. Looking at their academic status, 58% were professors, 20% were researchers or postdocs and 18% were PhD Students (see illustration 1).

Illustration 1: EconStor User Survey 2022: Participants by academic status

Regarding the scientific disciplines, most of the respondents came from the field of economics (65%) or business studies (25%), the remaining 10 % were allocated to neighbouring disciplines such as sociology, political studies, statistics or geography.

Results of the EconStor survey

The survey addressed various aspects of the use of EconStor such as awareness and familiarity of the services, usage of searching and browsing options, evaluation of the services and suggestions for improvement. In the following, we briefly present some key results.

Usage & environment analysis

The majority of respondents have known EconStor for more than three years, but there are differences by discipline, as researchers in economics are aware of EconStor longer than their colleagues in business studies (see Illustration 2).

Illustration 2: EconStor User Survey 2022: Awareness of EconStor

In terms of usage, almost half of the respondents use EconStor at least once a month and about 14% even weekly, indicating that the majority of respondents are quite familiar with the platform.

Illustration 3: EconStor User Survey 2022: Usage of EconStor

About one third of the respondents from the field of economics first discovered EconStor via RePEc, while most researchers from business studies became aware of EconStor via Google Scholar. This is in line with the answers given concerning the use of other platforms the researchers use to access economic papers, where besides ResearchGate, Google Scholar, RePEc and SSRN are mentioned.

Illustration 4: EconStor User Survey 2022: Usage of other platforms than EconStor to access economic papers

Coincidently ResearchGate and to a lesser extent RePEc and SSRN are the most used platforms to distribute research papers in economics and business studies. Researchers also consider their own research institution important for disseminating their papers. This suggests that institutional repositories are still relevant even if large disciplinary and interdisciplinary platforms exist.

Illustration 5: EconStor User Survey 2022: Platforms to distribute research papers

Searching & browsing

EconStor provides several options to navigate through the website. Users can find papers by searching specifically for individual titles or by using the browsing function to view documents sorted by institution, type of document, author, etc. Considering the answers given, searching and browsing options are not very important. Only about 50% of respondents even use the options provided by EconStor. One of the respondents wrote, “I search for papers mostly via Google or Google Scholar, where I may find EconStor papers. It did not occur to me to search on EconStor itself, or to explore its functionality.” This answer seems to describe the typical use case of EconStor accurately. Our monthly usage statistics tell the same story: Researchers use EconStor primarily as a source to get the full text after searching databases or using search engines.

Illustration 6: EconStor User Survey 2022: Usage of browsing and searching functions

Self-upload & quality management

More than 600 institutions use EconStor to disseminate their publications. Authors can also upload their papers themselves, although this feature is reserved for Ph.D. researchers in economics and business studies at academic institutions. After registering, authors can upload working papers as well as journal articles, book chapters, conference proceedings, etc. The majority of about 55% of the respondents did not know about this option. However, of the authors who actively use the self-upload feature, more than 95% are satisfied or even very satisfied with the self-upload process.

Illustration 7: EconStor User Survey 2022: Satisfaction with the self-upload process

Once a paper is uploaded, the EconStor team checks several points for quality assurance: namely plagiarism check, personal requirements for registration, document type, journal listing in Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and formal checks of the paper. About two thirds of the authors appreciate this quality assurance measures. The plagiarism check and formal check are most important to them.

Illustration 8: EconStor User Survey 2022: Importance of quality assurance checks

Evaluation of other EconStor services

EconStor provides some more services than the self-upload feature or the searching and browsing options. To the EconStor users the most important other services are the distribution service and the provision of download statistics. The distribution service includes distribution to search engines like Google, Google Scholar or BASE (Bielefeld Academic Search Engine) and to academic databases like WorldCat, OpenAire and EconBiz . More than 90 % of the respondents agree that these two services are important for their work. The possibility to export metadata and to link papers with their underlying research data are relevant too, but to a lesser extent.

Illustration 9: EconStor User Survey 2022: Importance of different services in EconStor

Overall evaluation of EconStor

More than 95% of the respondents are satisfied or very satisfied with EconStor and its services overall. This applies to the two research areas of economics and business studies.

Illustration 10: EconStor User Survey 2022: Evaluation of EconStor and its services overall

About 67% of the respondents feel sufficiently informed about the services on the EconStor website. While this is by no means a bad result, there is room for improvement. Some respondents for example suggest providing a newsletter informing about new content indexed in EconStor.

Suggestions for improving EconStor

54 respondents were kind enough to share their views on possible improvements to EconStor. The suggestions ranged from the desire for higher visibility or awareness of EconStor and the desire for more information about the product to suggestions for improving individual functions.

Illustration 11: EconStor User Survey 2022: Suggestions for improving EconStor

Conclusions on the 2022 EconStor survey

Overall, the researchers evaluated EconStor very positively. In particular, users who have known the service for several years and those who actively use the self-upload feature are very satisfied with it. Its users perceive EconStor primarily as a full-text source that can discovered via search engines, while its own search and browsing functions are less well known. The environment analysis shows differences between researchers from economics on the one side and business studies on the other, e.g. regarding the relevance of RePEc or ResearchGate. The potential for greater use could be tapped through stronger marketing (including promotion of the self-upload service) and through supplementary services.

The EconStor team very much appreciates the answers and opinions provided. This will help us to make EconStor even better. As a first response, we have created two promotional videos, one regarding EconStor in general, and the other one regarding the self-uploading process in particular. Other improvements will follow soon.

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About the authors:

Ralf Toepfer works in the Publication Services Department of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, where he is responsible for discipline-specific services for the management of economic research data, among other things. You can also find him on Mastodon.
Portrait: ZBW©, photographer: Sven Wied

Lisa Schäfer has been supporting various Open Access transformation projects at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics since 2020.
Portrait: Lisa Schäfer©

Olaf Siegert is head of the Publication Services department and Open Access Representative of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. He is involved with open access as part of his work at the ZBW and is also active for the Leibniz Association, where he represents the Leibniz Open Access working group in external committees. He is involved in the Alliance of Science Organisations in the working group Scientific Publication System and at Science Europe for the Leibniz Association.
Portrait: ZBW©

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Open Science in Economics: Selected Findings From the ZBW Awareness Analysis 2022

by Doreen Siegfried

From 1 March to 10 May 2022, the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics carried out a wide-ranging awareness analysis among economics and business studies researchers. 401 researchers were surveyed online in a targeted way with a layered test sample of ten defined subgroups. The aim was to get a representative image of the total population of scientifically working people in the field of business studies and economics – both in terms of status groups and specialist discipline. Research assistants and professors from the fields of economics and business administration at universities, universities of applied sciences (UoAS) and non-university research institutions in Germany were surveyed.

Part of the representative study deals with the topic of Open Science. We have summarised selected findings that are not specific to ZBW here.

Open Science: general relevance in economics and business studies research

Question: Research funding organisations (for instance the German Research Foundation, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the EU) are increasingly more urgently demanding free access to academic publications and research data from funded projects (keyword: Open Science) (German). Open Science includes for instance Open Access Publications, Open Research Data and disclosure of the entire research process. Has academic policy already had an impact on your work?

Of all of the parties surveyed, 47 percent said that Open Science currently already plays an important role in their work. 77 percent believe that Open Science will play an important role in the future. Only 16 percent can’t really relate to Open Science (see Fig. 1).

Taking a look at the ZBW 2019 Open Science Study (PDF, German), the proportion of business studies and economics researchers who are unaware of the term ‘Open Science’ has reduced slightly. In 2019, one in five business studies and economics researchers had never heard of the term “Open Science” before.

Looking at the different subgroups, the following picture emerges (see Fig. 2):

In economics, Open Science already plays an important role in the current work routine for almost two thirds (64 percent) of those surveyed. By contrast, this figure is less than a half for business administration at just 45 percent. The picture is also similar for future projections: whereas 85 percent of economics academics say that Open Science will play a role for them in the future, this figure is just 76 percent for business administration academics. As a logical consequence of this is that fewer economists have no connection to the topic of Open Science (9 percent) compared to business economists (17 percent).

There are also disparities between the status groups. Open Science already plays a more important role for research assistants than for professors (54 percent) and will also do so in the future (80 percent), where 38 percent of professors consider Open Science to play an important role now, and 74 percent believe that it will do so in the future. Regarding status groups, research assistants can relate to the topic of Open Science better than professors (see Fig. 2).

Relevance of Open Science Practices

Question: How important are the following Open Science Practices for you personally and/or your own academic work? This includes the use of openly shared research and actively sharing own research?

The researchers who rated Open Science as important now and in the future (see Fig. 1) were asked how important specific Open Science Practices are to them. Open Access Publications play the most important role – they are very important to 44 percent of those surveyed and fairly important to 35 percent.

The ZBW 2019 Open Science Study already showed that Open Access plays a very important role for business studies and economics researchers, scoring an average of 2.5 on a scale of 1=very important role to 5=no role at all. In 2019, 23 percent of economists in Germany confirmed that the concept of Open Access played a very important role. Furthermore, in 2019, 62 percent considered Open Access to be important for them personally. In 2022, this figure was 79 percent.

Open Research Data (see Fig. 3) also seemed to be key for business studies and economics researchers. Open Research Data is a very important topic for a quarter of those surveyed and fairly important for another quarter (27 percent) – open research data thus plays a role for 52 percent of those surveyed. Let’s compare this with the findings of 2019: the fact that research data is provided and published in line with open principles played a very important role for 11 percent and a fairly important role for 31 percent in the year 2019. That is 42 percent combined, meaning the importance of it has increased compared to 2019.

Disclosing the research process is very important for 16 percent of those surveyed and fairly important for 13 percent, meaning a total of 29 percent find it to be important. This is less than a third of those surveyed. For the majority, disclosing the research process currently does not play a key role.

Open Science Services: importance for business studies and economics researchers

Question: And what about the following services in the field of Open Science…how important are these services for you personally?

A well-structured search function for research data plays an important role for business studies and economics researchers. 38 percent find it very important, a further 35 percent find it fairly important – a total of 73 percent, almost three quarters of all those surveyed in all specialist disciplines. By way of comparison, the ZBW 2019 Open Science Study showed similar values. At this time, 77 percent of all people working in business studies and economics wanted information on how to locate Open Research Data more easily.

The ZBW’s 2022 awareness study also shows that the support in locating Open Access Publications is very important for 29 percent and fairly important for 34 percent. The 63 percent in total shows the relevance of this field. Comparing to 2019 again, 76 percent wanted information on Open Access Publication three years ago.

Subject-specific information and guidelines on Open Science Practices currently seem to be relevant for 47 percent in total, that is almost half of all those surveyed. 14 percent find it to be very relevant; 32 percent find it to be fairly relevant. By way of comparison, over three quarters of economics researchers wanted an overview of platforms, tools and applications that support Open Science Practices in 2019. These figures indicate that this need is diminishing.

Tangible subject-specific seminars and workshops on how to handle Research Data represent an exciting offer for two fifths of all those surveyed.

Open Science Services: use by business studies and economics researchers

Question: Have you already tangibly used these services in the field of Open Science

Let’s now take a look at the difference between the ascribed importance of Open Science Services and how they are used. Whereas 73 percent of those surveyed said that they find a well-structured search function for business studies economics research data important, only 32 percent said that they had already used such a search function. Among employees of universities of applied sciences, this figure was 49 percent.

Almost two thirds (63 percent) said that they find it important to have support for Open Access Publications. By contrast, less than a third (26 percent) use such a service – calculated based on all subgroups surveyed. Considering the subgroups, it is noticeable that 31 of economists and as many as 44 percent of researchers at non-university research institutions (usually economists too) have already tangibly used this kind of support at least once.

There is also a difference for subject-specific information und guidelines on Open Science Practices and Tools (see Fig. 4). A fifth (19 percent) of researchers use this offering – among researchers at non-university research institutions, this figure is a third (33 percent; see Fig. 5). Among those who find subject-specific seminars and workshops on how to handle Research Data important, half have also already used these kind of educational services.

Archiving publication and research data: trustworthiness of different providers

Question: With respect to archiving publications and research data, how trustworthy do you find the following providers?

We then asked business studies and economics researchers in Germany how trustworthy they consider various archiving providers to be. Public institutions are the most trusted, with approval from 87 percent in total. It is interesting that this figure is even higher among employees at universities of applied sciences, where 94 percent trust public institutions. Publishers, including the publishing companies Elsevier and Springer, also enjoy a high level of trust at 74 percent. Around two fifths of all those surveyed (39 percent) said that they believe publishers to be very trustworthy and a further 35 percent believed them to be trustworthy. Here too, researchers at universities of applied sciences are ahead with 87 percent of them saying that they trust this group of providers. Big tech companies, on the other hand, are only trusted by 14 percent and 21 percent respectively, which is a fifth of business studies and economics researchers say that big tech companies are not trustworthy at all. Most of those surveyed answered “neither trustworthy or untrustworthy”.

Awareness of the German National Research Data Infrastructure

Question: The National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI) should be used to systematically access, network, and secure academics and research databases – which are merely temporarily stored in a decentralised way today – in the long-term, while making these accessible across disciplines and throughout different countries. In one place. For the entire research system. It should be possible to easily locate and use many types of data (including social media data, representative population data and much more). NFDI development is module by module, through various consortia, on a subject-specific basis. In business studies and economics, such consortia include the Consortium for Business, Economic and Related Data (BERD@NFDI) and the Consortium for the Social, Educational, Behavioural and Economic Sciences (KonsortSWD). Have you heard of this NFDI project, or the BERD and/or KonsortSWD consortia?

The NFDI pie chart is self-explanatory. The National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI) is not very familiar yet. Then again, this is hardly surprising since these infrastructure projects are still in development.

NFDI: relevance to economists’ work

Question: How important will the new National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI) and/or the two economics consortia BERD and KonsortSWD be in the future for your work?

Compared to the current NFDI familiarity among economics researchers in Germany (see Fig. 7), its expected future importance and/or that of the two economics consortia BERD@NFDI and KonsortSWD is relatively high. Around half of those surveyed (53 percent) view it as relevant for their own work. The NFDI is actually very important for 9 percent (see Fig. 8). But as the NFDI is still unknown among 84 percent, a large proportion of those surveyed did not answer the question (31 percent). Only 4 percent are critical and say that the NFDI is not important to them.

The survey has shown that Open Science and the NFDI in particular are regarded as important or potentially important – but more likely in the future. It is the responsibility of the consortia to make their work and the progress made in developing their infrastructures transparent and well-known, and to communicate this on a continuous basis. Furthermore, the survey shows that the academic library work with publishers and/or publishing corporations needs to become the focus of communication.

Conclusion: status quo of Open Science in business studies and economics

So how can these findings be summarised? Has Open Science already made its mark on economists or has interest plateaued somewhat? In which areas should we – the library and Open Science community – now take action?

Not only research funding organisations but also top economics research journals are now demanding that academics share their data and codes. For this reason, there are numerous special research fields or post-graduate programmes that have integrated training in Open Science Practices into their curricula. It’s almost impossible to ignore the discussion surrounding Open Science. That’s why it is also not surprising that over three quarters of those surveyed believe that Open Science will play a major role in the future.

It is however very clear that younger researchers – that are research assistants – are more interested in Open Science than professors. An awareness of the need for future skills in academic work and a creative drive to change the research system (at least in part) combine to form a “young avantgarde”.

The high level of trust in publishing corporations is noteworthy. Critical scrutiny of power structures and independent community-owned infrastructures has not yet taken place to a sufficient degree.

Libraries can play a role here: it would be good if they could be vocal in communicating their own skills and services for networked and digitally independent academia. The times of libraries quietly working away unnoticed are definitely over.

This text has been translated from German.

This might also interest you:

About the Author:

Dr Doreen Siegfried is Head of Marketing and Public Relations at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. She can also be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Portrait: ZBW©

The post Open Science in Economics: Selected Findings From the ZBW Awareness Analysis 2022 first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Open Letter: Open Science Should Provide Support, not Impose Sanctions

by Guido Scherp

At the end of 2021, the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics launched the Open Science Retreat, a new online format to intensively discuss current and globally relevant Open Science topics in a small circle of international Open Science advocates. The outcome is completely open. The focus is on networking and exchange.

During the third retreat in June 2022, the participants discussed the topic “Impact of Global Crises on the Open Science Movement”. The past has shown that crises – such as the Corona pandemic – can surprisingly turn out as enablers on openness. On the other hand, Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine (#ScienceForUkraine) and the suffering and destruction it has caused, painfully remind us of the limiting factor crises can have on the openness of science. But how do such events affect the Open Science movement in general, and how does the Open Science community respond? These and other questions were discussed during the retreat. It quickly became apparent to the participants that there has been little such discourse and corresponding reflection so far.

Thus, some participants of the retreat wrote the open letter “Open Science should provide support, not impose sanctions” directed to the Open Science community in general. It focuses on two core theses:

  • The Open Science movement should address the question of whether and, if so, under which framework conditions “closeness” can be appropriate in global, political crises.
  • Openness must not be used to place sanctions in global, political crises by closing open offers.

The Open Letter takes a closer look at these aspects.

The aim of the open letter is to further stimulate the discourse and the corresponding reflection on the mentioned aspects. Thus, the authors explicitly invite the Open Science community to support this letter.


Support the Open Letter here


Related links:

About the Author:

Dr Guido Scherp is Head of the “Open-Science-Transfer” department at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. He can also be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Portrait: ZBW©, photographer: Sven Wied

The post Open Letter: Open Science Should Provide Support, not Impose Sanctions first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

INCONECSS 2022 Symposium: Artificial Intelligence, Open Access and Data Dominate the Discussions

by Anastasia Kazakova

The third INCONECSS – International Conference on Economics and Business Information – took place online from 17 to 19 May 2022. The panels and presentations focused on artificial intelligence, Open Access and (research) data. INCONECSS also addressed collaboration in designing services for economics research and education and how these may have been influenced by the corona crisis.

Unleash the future and decentralise research!

Prof. Dr Isabell Welpe, Chair of Business Administration – Strategy and Organisation at the Technical University of Munich, gave the keynote address “The next chapter for research information: decentralised, digital and disrupted”. With this, she wanted to inspire the participants to “unleash the future” and decentralise research. The first topic of her presentation was about German universities. Isabell Welpe took us on a journey through three stations:

  1. What happens at universities?
  2. What does the work of students, researchers and teachers and the organisation at universities look like?
  3. How can universities and libraries be made future-proof?

In her lecture, she pointed out that hierarchically organised teaching is currently often unable to cope with the rapid social changes and new developments in the world of work. Isabell Welpe therefore suggested opening up teaching and organising it “bottom up”. This means relying on the decentralised self-organisation of students, offering (digital) spaces for exchange and tailoring teaching to their needs. Through these changes, students can learn while actively participating in research, which simultaneously promotes their creativity and agility. This is a cornerstone for disruptive innovation; that is, innovation that breaks and radically changes existing structures.

Prof. Dr Isabell Welpe, Chair of Business Administration – Strategy and Organisation at the Technical University of Munich, drawing: Karin Schliehe

Libraries could support and even drive the upcoming changes. In any case, they should prepare themselves for enormous changes due to the advancing digitisation of science. Isabell Welpe observed the trend towards “digital first” in teaching – triggered by the coronavirus situation. In the long term, this trend will influence the role of libraries as places of learning, but will also determine interactions with libraries as sources of information. Isabell Welpe therefore encouraged libraries to become a market-place in order to promote exchange, creativity and adaptability. The transformation towards this is both a task and an opportunity to make academic libraries future-proof.

In her keynote speech, Isabell Welpe also focused on the topic of decentralisation. One of the potentials of decentralisation is that scientists exchange data directly and share research data and results with each other, without, for example, publishers in between. Keywords were: Web 3.0, Crypto Sci-Hub and Decentralisation of Science.

In the Q&A session, Isabell Welpe addressed the image of libraries: Libraries could be places where people would go and do things, where they would exchange and would be creative; they could be places where innovation took place. She sees libraries as a Web 3.0 ecosystem with different services and encouraged them to be more responsive to what users need. Her credo: “Let the users own a part of the library!”

How can libraries support researchers?

Following on from the keynote, many presentations at INCONECSS dealt with how libraries can succeed even better in supporting researchers. On the first day, Markus Herklotz and Lars Oberländer from the University of Mannheim presented their ideas on this topic with a Poster (PDF, partly in German). The focus was on the interactive virtual assistant (iVA), which enables data collaboration by imparting legal knowledge. Developed by the BERD@BW and BERD@NFDI initiatives, the iVA helps researchers to understand the basic data protection regulations in each case and thereby helps them to evaluate their legal options for data use. The selfdirected assistant is an open-source learning module and can be extended.

Paola Corti from SPARC Europe introduced the ENOEL toolkit with her poster (PDF). It is a collection of templates for slides, brochures and Twitter posts to help communicate the benefits of Open Education to different user groups. The aim is to raise awareness of the importance of Open Education. It is openly designed, available in 16 language versions and can be adapted to the needs of the organisation.

On the last day of INCONECSS, Franziska Klatt from the Economics and Management Library of the TU Berlin reported in her presentation (PDF) on another toolkit that supports researchers in applying the Systematic Literature Review (SLRM) method. Originating from the medical field, the method was adapted to the economic context. SLRM helps researchers to reduce bias and redundancy in their work by following a formalised and transparent process that is reproducible. The toolkit provides a collection of information on the stages of this process, as well as SLR sources, tutorial videos and sample articles. Through the use of the toolkit and the information on the associated website, the media competence of the young researchers could be improved. An online course is also planned.

Field reports: How has the pandemic changed the library world?

The coronavirus is not yet letting go of the world, which also applies to the world of the INCONECSS community: In the poster session, Scott Richard St. Louis from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis presented his experiences of onboarding in a hybrid work environment. He addressed individual aspects of remote onboarding, such as getting to know new colleagues or the lack of a physical space for meetings.

The poster (PDF) is worth a look, as it contains a number of suggestions for new employees and management, e.g.:

  • “Be direct, and even vulnerable”,
  • “Be approachable” or
  • “What was once implicit or informal needs to become explicit or conscious”.

Arjun Sanyal from the Central University of Himachal Pradesh (CUHP) reported in his presentation (PDF) on a project of his library team. They observed that the long absence from campus triggered a kind of indifference towards everyday academic life and an “informational anxiety” among students. The latter manifests itself in a reluctance to use information resources for studying, out of a fear of searching for them. To counteract this, the librarians used three types of measures: Mind-map sessions, an experimental makerspace and supportive motivational events. In the mind-map session, for example, the team collected ideas for improving library services together with the students. The effort had paid off, they said, because after a while they noticed that the campus and the libraries in particular were once again popular. In addition, Makerspace and motivational events helped students to rediscover the joy of learning, reports Arjun Sanyal.

Artificial Intelligence in Libraries

One of the central topics of the conference was without doubt the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the library context. On the second day of INCONECSS, the panel participants from the fields of research, AI, libraries and thesaurus/ontology looked at aspects of the benefits of AI for libraries from different perspectives. They discussed the support of researchers through AI and the benefits for library services, but also the added value and the risks that arise through AI.

Discussion, drawing: Karin Schliehe

The panellists agreed that new doors would open up through the use of AI in libraries, such as new levels of knowledge organisation or new services and products. In this context, it was interesting to hear Osma Suominen from the National Library of Finland say that AI is not a game changer at the moment: it has the potential, but is still too immature. In the closing statements, the speakers took up this idea again: They were optimistic about the future of AI, yet a sceptical approach to this technology is appropriate. It is still a tool. According to the panellists, AI will not replace librarians or libraries, nor will it replace research processes. The latter require too much creativity for that. And in the case of libraries, a change in business concepts is conceivable, but not the replacement of the institution of the library itself.

It was interesting to observe that the topics that shaped the panel discussion kept popping up in the other presentations at the conference: Data, for example, in the form of training or evaluation data, was omnipresent. The discussants emphasised that the quality of the data is very important for AI, as it determines the quality of the results. Finding good and usable data is still complex and often related to licences, copyrights and other legal restrictions. The chatbot team from the ZBW also reported on the challenges surrounding the quality of training data in the poster session (PDF).

The question of trust in algorithms was also a major concern for the participants. On the one hand, it was about bias, which is difficult and requires great care to remove from AI systems. Again, data was the main issue: if the data was biased, it was almost impossible to remove the bias from the system. Sometimes it even leads to the systems not going live at all. On the other hand, it was about the trust in the results that an AI system delivers. Because AI systems are often non-transparent, it is difficult for users and information specialists to trust the search results provided by the AI system for a literature search. These are two of the key findings from the presentation (PDF) by Solveig Sandal Johnsen from AU Library, The Royal Library and Julie Kiersgaard Lyngsfeldt from Copenhagen University Library, The Royal Library. The team from Denmark investigated two AI systems designed to assist with literature searches. The aim was to investigate the extent to which different AI-based search programmes supported researchers and students in academic literature search. During the project, information specialists tested the functionality of the systems using the same search tasks. Among other results, they concluded that the systems could be useful in the exploratory phase of the search, but they functioned differently from traditional systems (such as classic library catalogues or search portals like EconBiz) and, according to the presenters, challenged the skills of information specialists.

This year, the conference took place exclusively online. As the participants came from different time zones, it was possible to attend the lectures asynchronously and after the conference. A selection of recorded lectures and presentations (videos) is available on the TIB AV portal.

Links to INCONECSS 2022:

  • Programme INCONECSS
  • Interactive Virtual Assistant (iVA) – Enabling Data Collaboration by Conveying Legal Knowledge: Abstract and poster (PDF)
  • ENOEL toolkit: Open Education Benefits: Abstract and poster (PDF)
  • Systematic Literature Review – Enhancing methodology competencies of young researchers: Abstract and slides (PDF)
  • Onboarding in a Hybrid Work Environment: Questions from a Library Administrator, Answers from a New Hire: Abstract and Poster (PDF)
  • Rethinking university librarianship in the post-pandemic scenario: Abstract and slides (PDF)
  • „Potential of AI for Libraries: A new level for knowledge organization?“: Abstract Panel Discussion
  • The EconDesk Chatbot: Work in Progress Report on the Development of a Digital Assistant for Information Provision: Abstract and slides (PDF)
  • AI-powered software for literature searching: What is the potential in the context of the University Library?: Abstract and slides (PDF)

This might also interest you:

About the Author:

Anastasia Kazakova is a research associate in the department Information Provision & Access and part of the EconBiz team at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. Her focus is on user research, usability and user experience design, and research-based innovation. She can also be found on LinkedIn, ResearchGate and XING.
Potrait: Photographer: Carola Grübner, ZBW©

The post INCONECSS 2022 Symposium: Artificial Intelligence, Open Access and Data Dominate the Discussions first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Briefly Noted: ZBW MediaTalk in Test Mode on Mastodon

by Claudia Sittner

Profiles of public institutions on commercial social networks have long been a source of unease for data protectionists throughout Germany. But until 2016, there was a lack of equivalent alternatives. Mastodon could be one such alternative. The decentralised network by software developer Eugen Roschko is Open Source with the source code being freely available on Github. The decentralised nature of Mastodon is what makes it so attractive and a good choice from an Open Science perspective.

What is Mastodon? Video by Mastodon on Youtube

Unlike platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, it is non-commercial, free of advertising and run by volunteers, who can also be organisations, on so-called instances. The instances are nodes, i.e. servers, creating a decentralised network: The Fediverse – a cross between “Federated” and “Universe”. The Fediverse is the generic concept for a network of federated systems, which implements a specific protocol (ActivityPub) – like Mastodon.

Data protection and Mastodon

The network is not financed by advertising revenue, which in practice almost always means the collection and use of personal data. So it can be operated in compliance with data protection laws. For data protectionists, however, the decentralisation is the big bonus. It is considered more data-protection compliant because not all data is collected at a central point. Of course, commercial providers can also host an instance, but that would only be one of many. Many Mastodon nodes also have their own data protection statements. However, there are no contracts for Data Processing Agreements. The choice of an instance is, therefore, ultimately a matter of trust.

The increased compatibility with data protection led, among other things, to some German authorities (German) and data protection officers, such as the data protection officer of Baden-Württemberg, Stefan Brink (German), setting up a profile there.

Creating an account on Mastodon: two steps

On Mastodon, users can create accounts in two steps. In the first step, they choose a suitable instance. These differ in terms of the community that has settled there, the usage guidelines, the number of users, the language and the tone. The latter is defined in the usage rules of the instance. Anyone who does not abide by them can be excluded by the admins. Since the individual instances have far fewer accounts than other social networks, expulsion on Mastodon can actually happen quite quickly. It is even possible to exclude entire instances from the Fediverse if, for example, there are no rules of use or the users do not adhere to them and serious cross-account violations occur too frequently.

Finding a suitable instance

There are currently around 3,800 Mastodon instances and 5.2 million users (July 2022). Filter systems or blog posts such as this one (German) can help you find the right instance. When we created the MediaTalk account on Mastodon in 2018 – back then in the tail of the Cambridge Analytica scandal – we chose the OpenBiblio instance. It is run by the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (state library). OpenBiblio is constantly growing and currently hosts almost 400 profiles. Around 29,000 contributions have been posted here so far. In the meantime, the instance has become well established for the German-language library scene. In the second step, you can create the user account. The account URL also includes the name of the instance, in our case:

ZBW-MediaTalk on Mastodon

As can be seen from this example, the name of the instance can already say something about its background, thematic focus and the interests of its community. But don’t worry, choosing an instance is not a life decision: if you don’t feel at home, it is possible to switch. Followers can be taken along, some other things too, but unfortunately not postings.

Posting on Mastodon

To stay with our example: Just because our account is hosted on the OpenBiblio instance does not mean that we can only follow others on that instance and only see their posts, because all instances are linked to the Fediverse. Communication is often compared to e-mail: Even if I have a Googlemail account, I can write mails to users of a Hotmail account and receive mails from them. The practical thing is that with a Mastodon account, you can also follow users with profiles on other Fediverse services like Pixelfed, which is about photos.

So we can follow all other accounts and vice versa. Nothing stands in the way of writing your own posts, which are called “toots” on Mastodon. A toot consists of a maximum of 500 characters. As usual, pictures, videos or similar attachments can be sent along. What is called a “retweet” on Twitter is a “boost” on Mastodon. Instead of hearts or likes, users award stars.

MediaTalk in test mode on Mastodon

After the fuss about Elon Musk’s tweet about buying Twitter, we decided to fill our profile on Mastodon with life. Since we are doing this in test mode for the time being, we are mirroring our tweets there. We currently use the command line tool t2m for this. It’s a bit on the old side, but it’s Open Source and can be easily operated on your own server. There are also online tools for this form of mirroring, but their use in compliance with data protection regulations is questionable. For the reasons mentioned, we are now active on Mastodon, for the time being. But we are confident that we will be there permanently. In what form, after a certain test phase, is still open. So if you are no longer happy on Twitter, maybe because of data protection concerns, you won’t miss anything if you follow us on Mastodon. We would be happy to welcome you there!

This text has been translated from German.

Read more about Mastodon:

Read more on MediaTalk:

About the author

Claudia Sittner studied journalism and languages in Hamburg and London. She was a long time lecturer at the ZBW publication Wirtschaftsdienst – a journal for economic policy, and is now the managing editor of the blog ZBW MediaTalk. She is also a freelance travel blogger (German), speaker and author. She can also be found on LinkedIn, Twitter and Xing.
Portrait: Claudia Sittner©

Featured Image: Mastodon press kit

The post Briefly Noted: ZBW MediaTalk in Test Mode on Mastodon first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

The Ideal Place for Students to Learn: Results of a ZBW Photo Study

by Alena Behrens and Nicole Clasen

In this article, Alena Behrens and Nicole Clasen from the User Services team at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics report on the background, method, questions and results of their photo study among students. The key feature: the participants were only allowed to answer the five questions with photos. Text answers or comments were not possible. 19 students took part and sent 108 photos: of how they work, take their breaks and what their after-work rituals are. Alena Behrens and Nicole Clasen present the most interesting findings, draw conclusions about how new learning spaces in libraries need to be designed, and reveal what role candles play in this:

Pandemic challenges

User experience research (UX research) is characterised by spending a lot of time with your users, including their emotional level and questioning behaviours to learn as much as possible about the users. But how can you build this connection when libraries are closed for weeks and people are called to physically distance themselves from each other? The ZBW’s User Services team has dared to attempt a UX survey during the pandemic.

Approach and setting

Due to the pandemic-related requirements at the time of implementation in autumn 2021, it quickly became clear that the project should be carried out online as far as possible. The opening hours of the libraries were very limited. Only a few users worked in the library on site, and most of the staff worked from their home offices.

The question for us, however, was obvious: How do students learn at home during the pandemic? What stresses or disturbs them about this work situation? How do students deal with these changed learning conditions without a lecture hall or library? And what can we learn from this to adapt and improve the future design of the learning spaces?

A suitable UX method quickly emerged for these questions: the Photo Studies (term after Andy Priestner).

Photo Studies from home

In the Photo Studies method, the participants answer the questions posed with photos they have taken themselves. This was suitable for our question for two reasons: First, it gives us a very good insight into how the students set themselves up to study at home. Second, we were able to comply with all hygiene measures by establishing contact via email and sending the photos to us digitally. In addition, the students were quite flexible in terms of when they answered the questions. They could take the photos at their leisure and decide what should be in the photos.

The following five questions were to be answered with photos:

  1. Where is the favourite place to study/work and what is the most important object?
  2. What did the workplace look like (during an online lecture)?
  3. How is the break organised?
  4. What was the most annoying/challenging thing in the last few months?
  5. What does the after-work ritual look like?

Photos and findings

A total of 19 students participated in the study with 108 photos. So not everyone sent the exact number of five photos. The User Services team analysed the photos anonymously. By sending them, the students agreed to this and also that we could use the photos in presentations, articles, etc. The number of photos gave us a good insight into the working and learning conditions of home studying.

Workplaces and stress points

Important for working are a stable internet connection and good work equipment, such as technical equipment, a desk and chair. These are also the biggest stress points if they do not meet the requirements: An interference-prone internet connection is a hindrance for online lectures, and uncomfortable chairs cause back pain.

Only half of the participants work at a proper desk, the other half sit at the kitchen table or other converted tables. The space situation in general is often cramped. It is usually not possible to switch between work and leisure time.

Breaks and after-work rituals

The participants like to spend their breaks outside and in motion, e.g. on a walk, also with friends. After work, on the other hand, they spend most of their time at home. This is also in line with the usual pandemic-related requirements at the time of implementation.

As an after-work ritual, we received many sports pictures, from boxing and running to the yoga mat, many individual sports were included. The cosy sofa for relaxing should not be missing either.

Environment and decoration

As we already found out in our 2018 survey, the environment and atmosphere of the learning space play a major role. Implementing these needs in their own homes presented challenges for the students, but they were able to solve them. For a pleasant dose of daylight and fresh air, the learning spaces were often close to the window. They decorated the space with plants and candles. Drinks, especially coffee and tea, and snacks were also not to be missed.

  • Conclusion 1: Equip learning spaces well

    For us, it was rather surprising that after three semesters of purely digital study, many students still work with rather provisional solutions. Many work at the dining table or have placed a small table in the corner of the room. In most cases, there is only one laptop available, and there are no additional monitors. This is definitely a starting point for libraries to provide well-equipped learning spaces. This starts with large tables and comfortable, ergonomic chairs, and can be extended by technical equipment, e.g. by offering additional monitors to make working easier. Areas where you can work alone and still participate in online seminars were rare in libraries before the pandemic. We will consider this form of work in the future.

  • Conclusion 2: Create spaces for social interaction

    What has often been missing since the beginning of the Corona pandemic, but is all the more essential, is social contact. For libraries, this means on the one hand that places to work together in groups are important. There is often not enough space for this in small shared rooms. Areas for common breaks and social meeting places to exchange ideas and continue working creatively are also desired. Areas where small yoga and relaxation breaks can be taken can also offer added value. After sitting for a long time, many people feel the need to move, as the photos have confirmed.

  • Conclusion 3: Developing the library together with students

    It is very exciting to get an impression of students’ personal workplaces. The very positive feedback from the participants also showed us that they appreciate it when you want to respond to their personal needs. What was surprising for us was that we were given such open and personal insights. Thus, we can draw on an instructive and informative pool of knowledge and inspiration to design user services for the changing needs of learning and studying after the pandemic. With this knowledge, we can further develop the services in a targeted and needs-oriented manner.

Reflection on method and procedure

For the circumstances (Corona pandemic, home office/studying) and the question from this context, the method of photo studies was very well suited. We gained an insight into students’ private learning environments that we could hardly have gained otherwise. In this online implementation, in contrast to previous face-to-face on-site studies, we did not conduct any subsequent interviews. If we were to conduct them again, we would also combine the online studies with a small interview. This would give the participants the opportunity to explain their images. For some, there was a lot of room for interpretation and an explanation would have facilitated the exact interpretation.

However, this kind of implementation does not replace personal contact. Being able to talk to the students on site and to personally guide the UX methods is a great benefit. It enables a fluent dialogue and exchange.

This text has been translated from German.

This might also interest you:

About the authors:

Nicole Clasen is Head of User Services at ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. Her work focuses on information transfer, digital user services and the usability experience. LinkedIn and Twitter.
Portrait: ZBW©, photographer Sven Wied

Alena Behrens works as a librarian in the user services department at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. In addition to working at the service desk, her work focuses on information mediation and user experience. She can also be found on Twitter.
Portrait: Alena Behrens©

The post The Ideal Place for Students to Learn: Results of a ZBW Photo Study first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Workshop Retrodigitisation 2022: Do It Yourself or Have It Done?

by Ulrich Blortz, Andreas Purkert, Thorsten Siegmann, Dawn Wehrhahn and Monika Zarnitz

Workshop Retrodigitisation: topics

Under the workshop title “Do It Yourself or Have It Done? Collaboration With External Partners and Service Providers in Retrodigitisation”, around 230 practitioners specialised in the retrodigitisation of library and archive materials met in March 2022. This year, the Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage hosted the retrodigitisation workshop (German), which was held online due to the pandemic. For the first time in 2019, it had been initiated by the three central specialist German libraries – ZB MED, TIB Hannover and ZBW. All four institutions jointly organised a programme which, on the one hand, was about “Do it yourself or have it done?” and, on the other hand, about the question “Is good = good enough?” about quality assurance in retrodigitisation. After each of the eight presentations, there were many interesting questions and lively discussions developed.

Keynote: colourful and of high quality

The keynote on „Inhouse or Outsource? Two Contrasting Case Studies for the Digitisation of 20th Century Photographic Collections“ (PDF) was given by two English colleagues, Abby Matthews (Archive and Family History Centre) and Julia Parks (Signal Film & Media/Cooke’s Studios). They reported on their projects on digitisation of photographic records and old photographs from municipal archives, which they have carried out in cooperation with volunteers.

This was also a big challenge because of the Corona pandemic. Both were able to say that by involving those who later became interested in this offer, a special relationship to this local cultural heritage was developed. The experience of the volunteers also contributed a lot – especially to the documentation of the images, the speakers said.

Cooperation: many models

The first focus of the workshop was on collaboration in retrodigitisation. There were five presentations on this, which had a wide range:

Nele Leiner and Maren Messerschmidt (SUB Hamburg) reported in their presentation on “Class Despite Mass: Implementing Digitisation Projects with Service Providers” (PDF, German) on two retrodigitisation projects in which they worked together with service providers. It was about the projects “Hamburg’s Cultural Property on the Net” (German) and a project that was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in which approx. 1.3 million pages from Hamburg newspapers are being digitised.

Andreas Purkert and Monika Zarnitz (ZBW) gave a presentation on “Cooperation With Service Providers – Tips for the Preparation of Specifications” (PDF, German). They gave clues on tips and tricks for preparing procurement procedures for digitisation services.

Julia Boensch-Bär and Therese Burmeister (DAI) presented the “‘Retrodigitisation‘ Project of the German Archaeological Institute“, which is about having one’s own (co-)edited publications digitised. They described the work processes that ensured the smooth implementation of the project with service providers.

Natalie Przeperski (IJB Munich), Sigrun Putjenter (SBB-PK Berlin), Edith Rimmert (UB Bielefeld), Matthias Kissler (UB Braunschweig) are jointly running the Colibri project (German). In their presentation “Colibri – the Combination of All Essential Variants of the Digitisation Workflow in a Project of Four Partner Libraries” (PDF, German), they reported on how the work processes for the joint digitisation of children’s book collections are organised. The challenge was to coordinate both the cooperation of the participating libraries and that with a digitisation service provider.

Stefan Hauff-Hartig (Parliamentary Archives of the German Bundestag) reported on the “Retro-digitisation Project in the Parliamentary Archives of the German Bundestag: The Law Documentation” (PDF, German). 12,000 individual volumes covering the period from 1949 to 2009 are to be processed. Hauff-Hartig reported on how the coordination of the work was organised with a service provider.

Conclusion: In the presentations on cooperation with other institutions and service providers, it became clear that the success of the project depends heavily on intensive communication between all participants and careful preparation of joint work processes. The organisational effort for this is not insignificant, but the speakers were nevertheless able to show that the synergy effects of cooperation outweigh the costs and that projects only become possible when others are involved.

Quality assurance: Is “good” = good enough?

This question was posed somewhat self-critically by the speakers in this thematic block. Procedures and possibilities for quality assurance of the digitised material were presented:

Stefanie Pöschl and Anke Spille (Digital German Women’s Archive) contrasted the quality, effort and cost considerations of “doing it yourself” with those of purchasing services. In their presentation on “Quality? What for? The Digital German Women’s Archive Reports From Its Almost 6-year Experience With Retrodigitisation” (PDF, German) they looked at the use of standards to ensure the highest possible level of quality.

Yvonne Pritzkoleit and Silke Jagodzinski (Secret State Archives – Prussian Cultural Heritage) presented under the title “Is Good Good Enough? Quality Assurance in Digitisation” their institution’s quality assurance concept. This is based on the ISO/TS 19264-1:2017 standard for image quality. The concept can provide many suggestions for other institutions.

Andreas Romeyke (SLUB Dresden) explained in his presentation “Less is More – the Misunderstanding of Resolution” (PDF, German) why less is often more when it comes to the resolution of images. He described what is meant by resolution, how to determine a suitable resolution and what effects wrongly chosen resolutions can have.

Conclusion: Increasingly, digitised material is not only used as a document to be received for academic work, but it itself becomes research data that the users use, e.g. in the context of the digital humanities. This results in special quality requirements that are not always easy to implement. The three presentations on this topic showed different approaches to the topic and also that it is an important concern for quality management to put effort and benefit in a reasonable relationship. It became clear that standards such as ISO 19264-1 are increasingly being applied, even if this is still not always done according to the textbook, but within the range of technical and personnel possibilities.

Workshop Retrodigitisation 2022: lively discussions – good feedback

In the first part of the workshop, all presentations contained concrete recommendations and useful tips for the design of digitisation projects with service providers. Many aspects that were described in the presentations and discussed afterwards were strongly oriented towards practice, so that they could be incorporated by the participants for their own implementation of projects with service providers and offered a good basis for future planning of their own projects. It was particularly interesting to hear which quantity structures for the pages to be scanned can be implemented in projects with service providers and how projects could be successfully implemented with several institutions despite the pandemic.

The presentations on the topic of quality in the second block of the workshop also met with great interest. Again, all contributions included many practical tips that can be applied to the audience’s own organisations.

In summary, it can be said that the workshop with its many interesting contributions showed the many different ways of working with service providers and the increasing importance of quality management.

The feedback survey showed that the workshop was again very well received this year. All participants were able to take away many new impulses and ideas. The organising institutions will offer another workshop next year. In 2023, it will be hosted by the ZBW.

This text has been translated from German.

Further readings:

About the authors:

Ulrich Ch. Blortz is a qualified librarian for the higher service in academic libraries and a library official. He has worked at the former Central Library of Agricultural Sciences in Bonn since 1981 and has also been responsible for retrodigitisation at the ZB MED – Information Centre for Life Sciences since 2003.

Andreas Purkert is a freight forwarding and logistics merchant. In the private sector, he worked as a certified quality representative and quality manager and as part of the industry certificate REFA basic certificate work organisation. Since May 2020, he has been head of the Digitisation Centre of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.

Thorsten Siegmann is Head of Unit at the Berlin State Library and responsible for managing retrodigitisation. He holds a degree in cultural studies and has worked in various functions at the Foundation Prussian Cultural Heritage for 15 years.

Dawn Wehrhahn has been a qualified librarian since 1992. Since then she has worked, with a short interruption, at TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Technology and Natural Sciences and University Library. Her areas of work were: Head of the Wunstorf Municipal Library, Head of the Physics Department Library at TIB, from 2001 Team MyBib Operations within TIB’s full text supply. Since October 2021, she has headed the retrodigitisation team.

Dr Monika Zarnitz is an economist and Head of the Programme Area User Services and Preservation at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics.

The post Workshop Retrodigitisation 2022: Do It Yourself or Have It Done? first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Behind the Scenes: UNESCO Declares Bookbinding as Intangible Cultural Heritage

by Claudia Sittner

What is „Intangible Cultural Heritage“?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural and Communication Organization (UNESCO) defines this as “oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts”, according to the Website of the UNESCO about Intangible Cultural Heritage. Traditional crafts are also eligible. Examples of Intangible Cultural Heritage are German bread culture, Hessian „Kratzputz“ (an artistic, decorative plastering technique), fairy tale telling or East Frisian tea culture.

Elke Schnee, sign language and bookbinding at the ZBW

To explain what ZBW employee Elke Schnee has to do with UNESCO, you have to backtrack a bit. Schnee has been working in the bookbindery of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics for almost exactly 40 years. She did her apprenticeship there in the 1980s, and a little later her master’s degree (German „Meister“), before taking over the management of the then rather large bookbindery a short time later.

There were two deaf trainees there who were henceforth under her care. Out of the situation, she took the trainer aptitude test and learned sign language for four years. Above all, however, she learned sign language in practice, in conversations with colleagues and trainees, says Schnee. “I fell in love with sign language on my first day at the ZBW.

Sign language: for Elke Schnee it was a matter of course to learn them

There were already two deaf people there, and I was fascinated by how they talked to each other. Then I learned several signs right away”, reports the master bookbinder. In the video interview, she remembers exactly her first four words: book, coffee, milk and end of work (the German „Feierabend“). It has always been important for her to integrate all employees and trainees. Everyone should be heard and understood.

Over the years, she has shown 33 trainees how the ancient craft of bookbinding works in all its facets. Of these, 18 percent were deaf. Today, the bookbindery of the ZBW no longer trains, and it is not alone in this: while 150 people were still trained as bookbinders nationwide in 2019, there were only 60 left in 2020. “We have to stick and work together now, otherwise the centuries-old knowledge will gradually be lost”, Schnee appeals.

The BDBI and the UNESCO

It was not only this decline that prompted the Association of German Bookbinders (BDBI), in which Elke Schnee has been active for several years, to apply for a very special award: the inclusion in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List. “Before we are declared a dying species, this seemed like a good measure”, Schnee explains. The BDBI members felt encouraged to do so because they often heard of similar crafts, such as organ craftsmanship, being included. UNESCO’s text about tradtional craftmanship worthy of protection quickly confirmed that the craft of bookbinding was suitable for application.

Background UNESCO in Germany

UNESCO first initiated the designation as Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003. Under the motto “Knowledge.Skills.Passing on”, around 580 crafts and traditions from 130 countries have since been included in the international list. There are also national inventories. Germany joined the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2013. There are currently 131 entries on the national list including organ craftsmanship (Orgelbau), biike burning (an annual bonfire night celebration – Biikebrennen) and blue printing (a dyeing process for linen or cotton fabrics – Blaudruck).

Each German federal state may submit four proposals per year to the Secretariat of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs. If the proposals are approved there, the maximum of 64 proposals will be passed on to the Expert Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage of the German UNESCO Commission. After a thorough examination, the Committee makes recommendations and forwards them to the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs and to the German Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media for confirmation. Only after this multi-stage procedure is the Intangible Cultural Heritage entered in the Federal Register. Gold and jewels do not qualify for this status. Why does one take on the effort anyway?

The application as Intangible Cultural Heritage

Back to Elke Schnee: She has been a member of the BDBI board since 2019, first as a guest member, since 2021 officially elected. And in this capacity, she has slipped into the very working group that dealt with the application for inclusion in the UNESCO list.

One morning, Schnee was sitting unsuspectingly in her first BDBI board meeting when she was told that two letters of recommendation had to be organised as quickly as possible. She then quickly found two supporters in the former Kiel Mayor Susanne Gaschke and the ZBW Director Klaus Tochtermann. Once this hurdle was cleared, the professional association submitted its application to the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), the BDBI’s home state, in November 2019.

Waiting for UNESCO

In the meantime, the association learned that it had cleared a first hurdle on the way to becoming an Intangible Cultural Heritage Site: its proposal had made it into the top 4 of NRW. Almost 1.5 years after the application, in the middle of the Corona pandemic in spring 2021, the good news came: the craft of bookbinding had made it onto the German UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The celebration was small due to the corona pandemic, a certificate was presented and the BDBI members were allowed to use the corresponding UNESCO logo from then on. “The craft of bookbinding has an important function for cultural heritage and the culture of remembrance”, it says in the current Nationwide Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage. And further: “Despite digitalisation, the craft of bookbinding has not lost its vitality. It contributes in particular to the preservation of old books and archival materials. Interested laypeople have the opportunity to attend courses at adult education centres or in private workshops and thus learn the basics of bookbinding.”

UNESCO Cultural Heritage, and now?

When asked what this award means to her personally, Elke Schnee says: “Of course it’s nice to know: It’s a profession that I’m not the only one who thinks it’s great, it has such a charm that many people think it’s good. But apart from that, for me it’s more like: OK, we’ve already come this far, we’re already so few that we get species protection.“

Elke Schnee was pleased, however, because at the same time as the craft of bookbinding, German sign language also made it onto the German UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

To all those who are also thinking about applying, she recommends: “Just do it! You can only win.” It is important to keep an eye on the deadlines, to get help and more people on board, and to proceed in a parallel and structured manner. The checklist (German) on the German UNESCO website would help.

Bookbinding soon to be a World Cultural Heritage?

Once a year, the Intergovernmental Committee for UNESCO inscribes new Intangible Cultural forms and good practice examples of the preservation of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity on the international UNESCO lists. So far, Germany has been involved with five entries. The following have been inscribed:

  • idea and practice of organising shared interests in cooperatives,
  • blue printing,
  • craft techniques and customary practices of cathedral workshops, or Bauhütten,
  • falconry,
  • organ craftsmanship and organ music.

And perhaps one day the craft of bookbinding will also find its way into this international list, especially since bookbinding exists in almost every country in the world. This will not prevent the shrinking of this profession in times of digitalisation, but at least it will create good conditions to make people aware that it is worth protecting and preserving.

And Elke Schnee?

She is thinking about a book about the craft of bookbinding, so that the centuries-old knowledge about books will really not get lost. Abolishing books and the craft of bookbinding is out of the question for her: “If people only work digitally, they will have to go to occupational therapy later on, where they will learn basket weaving and bookbinding. Simply to keep them healthy.”

And a little later: “It fills me with happiness when I see my work in the evening after a day in the workshop. I had such a day yesterday. It felt so good to see what I had done – I picked up the book again and thought: that was a good day.”

This text has been translated from German.

This might also interest you:

About the Author:

Claudia Sittner studied journalism and languages in Hamburg and London. She was a long time lecturer at the ZBW publication Wirtschaftsdienst – a journal for economic policy, and is now the managing editor of the blog ZBW MediaTalk. She is also a freelance travel blogger (German), speaker and author. She can also be found on LinkedIn, Twitter and Xing.
Portrait: Claudia Sittner©

Photos: ZBW©, photographer: Sven Wied

The post Behind the Scenes: UNESCO Declares Bookbinding as Intangible Cultural Heritage first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Happy Birthday, MediaTalk! Our Must-read List From 11 Years of Blogging

The categories in our birthday article range from factual such as Open Science or Social Web to the most curious/weirdest contributions, the (still!) most requested added-value blogposts, a few ZBW milestones and MediaTalk Magic Moments. Travel back through time with us and be amazed at which posts are more relevant today than ever.

Please note: Until 2017, mainly German-language blogposts appeared on ZBW MediaTalk. That’s why this post contains many weblinks to purely German articles. We have marked them with “(German)”. If you are particularly interested in a translation of an older blogpost, please let us know ( Maybe it’s worth updating it in that case, too?!


Blog birth: Blog birth: Back then, on 22 February 2011, on a presumably grey February morning in Hamburg, the WordPress blog was launched with two contributions: World Wide Science – How Scientists Work in the Internet (2011, German) and the inaugural lecture of ZBW Director Klaus Tochtermann: “Future Internet – Opportunities and Risks for the Media Industry” – mit Audio (2011, German). Parallel to the blog, the Facebook account and the Twitter account existed from the beginning. In the beginning, however, MediaTalk looked a bit different

MediaTalk 14.05.2016

In 2016, ZBW MediaTalk editor Birgit Fingerle published the trends for the coming year for the first time: 7 Trends That Will be on the Agenda in 2016 (2016, German). Since then, this column has been one of the most popular contributions on ZBW MediaTalk every year. Do you already know the trends for 2022? Special goody: In an insider’s look behind the scenes, Birgit revealed 2016 in a three-part blog post series how to (1) find and recognise trend; (2) organise trends and (3) turn trends into innovations (all 2016, German). Must Read!

MediaTalk goes international! From 2017 onwards, blogposts on MediaTalk are also be published in English. First English blogpost in this context: GO-FAIR: A Member States-Up strategy for the EOSC implementation. Accompanying this, the team started the weekly English newsletter, which briefly addresses current developments, presents interesting studies and reports and announces some relevant dates.

ZBW MediaTalk event calendar: In January 2017, the first blog post with event tips for the coming year (German) was published and was so well received that it became an annual MediaTalk institution. In May 2019, we launched our events calendar with an ever-growing number of interesting events for digital infrastructure workers and Open Science enthusiasts. By the way, have you already checked out which events you shouldn’t miss in 2022?

Open Science – all in

In 2012, the Leibniz Research Network Science 2.0 was launched on the initiative of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics (German).

In 2014, we announced the first Science 2.0 Conference by the Leibniz Research Network Science 2.0. This year, the 9th Open Science Conference, as it is called now, will take place from 8-10 March. By the way, you can still register for it In 2015, the conference was joined by the Barcamp Science 2.0. This year’s Barcamp Open Science will take place on 7 March.

What is it like to live Open Science consistently? We asked Christian Heise about his experiences and insights when writing his open PhD thesis (2017).

Generation R: Forming Open Scientists and Shaping Science Systems (2018). The aim of Generation R (R = Researcher) is to help researchers take advantage of the changes towards Open Science and to shape the future of the new Open Science systems and tools.

Did you know? Open Access preprints are cited and shared more often (2019).

How can Open Peer Review be implemented? Where else could Open Peer Review be applied and how could it be fostered in the future? Tony Ross-Hellauer, one of the authors of the “Guidelines for Open Peer Review Implementation“(2019), talked to us about the core elements of Open Peer Review and his recommendations.

Research Data Management: Toolbox for Successful Institutional Services (2019). The BMBF-funded project FDMentor developed guidelines and solutions for institutional research data management.

A classic in the field of Open Science: How can new indicators be found that make sense of Open Science and Open Innovation (2019)? Established indicators for research and innovation processes have so far inadequately captured Open Science and Open Innovation. As a result, their opportunities and risks often remain in the fog. A discussion paper therefore made proposals for the expansion of existing indicators and the development of new ones. Still worth reading!

Wikidata and Open Science: A Model for Open Data Work (2021)?

Third-party Materials in Open Access Monographs: How Far-reaching is the Creative Commons Licence Really (2021)?

Tracking Science (2022): A modern saying goes: If you don’t pay for the product, you are the product. But how can libraries help to avoid tracking in science and thus protect the data of researchers and, in an idealistic sense, scientific freedom? In this interview, Felix Reda showed starting points and pitfalls.

The Weirdest Articles

The library, your online personal trainer (2015, German) ? You have probably never asked yourself this question, even though it no longer seems so far-fetched during a worldwide pandemic. Background: Personal training has been around for a long time – by 2015, some enterprising trainers had discovered it for themselves online. Whether it’s about losing weight or getting fitter, online personal training is supposed to help people achieve their goals. A model for libraries?

“Matchmaking” as a field of activity? Libraries and the Tinderisation (2015, German). Background: Apps like Tinder show how contact seekers can be brought together quickly. Even outside the dating world, providers use the principle for themselves and simply bring together people with matching interests, for example so that they can study together. Should libraries respond to the desire for “quick contacts”?

As a robot in the USA: A somewhat different conference participation (2016, German): How can you attend an on-site conference if you don’t want to travel long distances and incur large costs? Telepresence robots make it possible.

How do Predatory Journals work and how does it work to place a publication here? A group of researchers from the ZBW tested this on their own and reported on their experiences: self-experiment in fake science: The tricks of the predatory journals (2018).

Social Web

Photos squared: Libraries on Instagram (2015, German). Apart from the fact that photos have been joined by a lot of video content on Instagram over the years, this blog post has lost none of its relevance, as Ned Potter recently wrote: Instagram is the most used social media platform, and this is of great importance for libraries (2022).

More topical than ever: Digital Detox – mobile phone fasting by app, at camp or in the library? (2015, German). Background: Sometimes the noise becomes too much. Notifications from social networks, round-the-clock availability; the increasing digitalisation of our lives also has its downsides. Distraction-free, concentrated work is becoming a scarce commodity for many. Digital “withdrawal” promised a remedy – and possibly built on a core competence of libraries.

Emojis have become an integral part of communication for many mobile users. The widespread use of messaging apps also made their use in customer contact possible. Resourceful providers showed how emojis have become part of customer service (2017, German).

Benefit from Twitter as a Learning Tool: Learning in Social Networks (2017). The social network Twitter can be used for a wide variety of purposes – including as an educational platform. We presented a selection of possible approaches for learning with Twitter.

Scientific Tweets: Why less is more and when a tweet is perceived as scientific (2021).

Podcasts have moved us more often: Tips for Open Science Podcasts (2021); Podcasts and Libraries: Let’s Listen (2015, German) and Podcasts: Potential for Science and Continuing Education (2018). In 2020, the ZBW itself launched an Open Science podcast: The Future is Open Science (German). Missing a podcast? Send us an email to

Brave New Library World

Libraries in the Shareconomy: Central Player or Outsider (2014, German)? Booksharing, carsharing, carpooling centres, co-housing centres, clothes swapping circles, toy swapping circles or the sharing of surplus food: the shareconomy seems to be booming. But why are libraries rarely mentioned in this context? And what role could the “sharing” trend play for them?

Visualisations Revolutionise Research: hitchhiking through literature (2015, German). Visualisations can significantly accelerate the entry into new knowledge domains. Automation options have since simplified their creation. Librarians can play an important role in this!

Robots can already solve individual tasks very well. There are reports of new robot developments every day. What can robots do today and is it conceivable that they will make even greater inroads into the “library” world of work? Robots: Our new colleagues (2016, German)?

Gamification in Libraries (2016, German)? The permeation of various areas of life with game elements has been observed for years and will probably continue to increase in the working world. What potential does this development offer for academic libraries? In 2022, there are already a few well-functioning concepts for research data in this respect: Horror Research Data Management: 4 Best Practice Examples for Successful Gamifications (2022).

Since 2014, library-related topics have been discussed monthly on Twitter under the hashtag #BIBchatDE. The @bibchatde team explained what it was all about: Bibchat – the Twitter Chat on Libraries (2017).

How the Library Becomes a Hub for Open Innovation and Science (2018). Merging Open Science and Open Innovation more strongly and thus setting new impulses was the focus of the Initiative for Open Science and Innovation of the Stifterverband (a donor´s association for the German science). A discussion paper published as a result contained initial recommendations for action. It considered the establishment of Open Innovation Hubs and the role of libraries.

What is the most efficient way to improve library services? And how can we make our users happiest? User experience in libraries is a multifaceted topic on which we started a whole series of contributions in 2020. Starting with the best methods and tools for beginners (2020), it has since become an international UX interview series with many best practices and interview guests from Estonia, Sweden, France and the Netherlands, for example.

Wikimedia 2030: With Libraries to the World’s Largest Knowledge Infrastructure (2020). The international Wikimedia movement, known primarily for Wikipedia, has set out for the year 2030 and defined strategies, values and goals. Nicole Ebber and Holger Plickert from Wikimedia Germany answered some questions about the transformation, how Wikimedia wants to become the largest knowledge infrastructure in the world and what connections they see with libraries.

Corona: The impact of the pandemic was a gigantic challenge for libraries, institutes and infrastructure facilities all over the world. We asked eight institutions of the international EconBiz Partner Network about “Digitisation in Libraries: To What Extent has Corona Given a Boost?” (2021). For those in a hurry, we have summarised our key learnings in this article: “5 Lessons from the Corona Crisis for the New Normal” (2021). We also asked ourselves how libraries should be after Corona: hybrid and participatory (2021)?

If you are not yet active on social media: Why Libraries Have to be Permanently Active on Social Media! 7 “Glorious” Reasons – 2021 Update (2021).

The Most Popular How-tos and Value-added Articles

How Deutsche Bahn Landed on Twitter: Ten Tips for Newcomers to the Social Web (2011, German). Background: This article was about the practical approaches and concrete procedures of the company, which other Twitter newcomers can also learn from. Basically, it’s always about the same question: How can I get closer to the customers with the service? In the article, we were interested in the process from decision to implementation, which in this case took around six months. Still exciting! And as we all know today, Deutsche Bahn’s Twitter channel is a success story with over 133,000 followers. And who of you hasn’t contacted Deutsche Bahn directly via Twitter – usually in an angry moment?

Guide to Libraries and Content Marketing: Who do we actually write stuff for on the web? (2013, German). Many institutions that are active on Facebook, Twitter or other networks have long since answered the question about their target group. This usually goes hand in hand with the definition of the goal: “What do we actually want to achieve with this?” is at the top – followed by “And who actually?“.

A pressing problem is waiting to be solved or ideas for the next big innovation project are becoming scarce? Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to jump-start creativity with the push of a button? We took a look at apps that promise to do just that: Creativity Apps – Ideas at the Push of a Button (2015, German).

How do I organise a hackathon in a library (2015, German)? At the beginning of September 2014, a hackathon took place for the first time at the ZBW in the context of digital long-term archiving. What hurdles must be overcome in order to hold a successful hackathon in one’s own library?

10 Free Book Mockups for Photoshop (2015, German) – PSD mockups are clean, simple – and above all chic. Basically, they are predefined images on which certain elements can be replaced with the click of a mouse. Our selection of book mockups is perfect for announcing readings, introducing new acquisitions or reviewing books.

Digital Collaboration: Tips for Working Together Across Five Time Zones (2018). Digital collaboration across national borders benefits experts who share their specialised knowledge, and thus also the libraries in which they work.

Open Educational Resources: Guidelines & Tutorials – How to Create OER and OER in practice: How to promote an open textbook (both 2018). And a little later, our colleagues from the user services created an open educational resource themselves (2022).

Tool Collections: Choose the Right Tools for Digital Collaboration and Learning (2020). Which tools are suitable and meet my requirements? How can I find an alternative if I am not allowed to use a particular provider for data protection reasons? We presented some helpful collections of tools.

Previously, we had already dealt intensively with libraries and online events: (1) Planning tools for a successful event, (2) Running successful conferences and meetings and (3) How workshops encourage ideation and collaboration (all 2020).

Agile Working: Promoting Innovation and Open Science with Scrum or with Kanban (2020/2021).

Rethinking Events Digitally: ZBW Guide for Successful Online Events (2021): For this article, various ZBW event experts sat down together, discussed their most important learnings and combined their concentrated tips for successful digital events in this comprehensive collection.

ZBW Milestones

In 2011, was launched to give visibility to libraries that are active on social media. Why is this important? Platform presences allow libraries better accessibility, new distribution channels and intelligent marketing. Libraries on the Social Web: ZBW launches (2011, German). Anyone who is still missing from the list is welcome to contact us:

In March 2013, we reported 50,000 full texts on the ZBW’s own Open Access server, EconStor (2013, German). The background: With EconStor, the ZBW has been offering a publication infrastructure for economic publications since 2006. All papers are offered digitally in Open Access and are also actively placed in various databases and search engines (e.g. RePEc, WorldCat or Google Scholar).

What started in 2015 as a small North German competition for pupils has since become an international success. We have followed the project “YES! Young Economic Summit” on the blog from the very beginning: YES! they can: Inspiring students for information literacy (2015, German). Background: How tomorrow’s decision-makers solve today’s problems – and learn something about information literacy, responsibility and economic thinking along the way. The ZBW reaches new users and teaches information literacy to students through the YES! competition.

“GO FAIR” first appeared on MediaTalk in 2017 and was a proposal for the practical implementation of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) through a federated approach that makes the most of existing initiatives and infrastructures in the participating member states. The project was funded until 2021. There were various events and internationally distributed GO FAIR offices, one of them in the ZBW.

Implementing Open Science: Research Data Projects at the ZBW (2017). Research data is a central topic in Open Science. In a series of research data projects, the ZBW dealt with their implementation. This article provides an overview of the activities at various levels.

How can libraries support researchers in expanding their research skills and knowledge in Open Science? The ZBW offers an Academic Career Kit. It covers the three areas of publishing, metrics and networking, and research data management. The three toolkits are available as reusable open educational resources (OER). The Academic Career Kit was introduced in this blog post: Open Educational Resources: How the EconBiz Academic Career Kit Trains Open Science Skills (2019).

FOLIO is an innovative Open Source library management system. In 2020, it has reached a maturity that makes a system change possible for more and more libraries. Felix Hemme reported on the organisation of the FOLIO project and the experiences of the ZBW in introducing it in productive operation: FOLIO: Open Source on its Way Into Everyday Library Life (2020).

In 2021, the ZBW launched the Open Economics Guide (OEG, German) to help economists get started with Open Science and to support their work with Open Science. The OEG was presented at MediaTalk in this article (2021).

But now we would like to say “thank you” for 11 years together:

  • the MediaTalk readers here on the blog,
  • our our newsletter subscribers,
  • the followers on Twitter and Facebook
  • and of course our international community of authors, from the content creators at the ZBW itself to our authors on the other side of the world!

We look forward to the next 11 years and are excited to see where the journey will take us in terms of Open Science, innovation and digital infrastructure. And if anyone has an article idea, please send an email to

The post Happy Birthday, MediaTalk! Our Must-read List From 11 Years of Blogging first appeared on ZBW MediaTalk.

Open Educational Resources: Getting Started in OER in the User Services – Best Practice from the ZBW

by Nicole Clasen and Carola Ziebart

Status quo of Open Educational Resources in Germany

Open Educational Resources (OER) are an important element in the transition of science towards Open Science. The UNESCO defines them as “teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions”. In its Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, the United Nations Organisation describes under point 4, „Quality Education”, the tasks of sustainable and fair education and training. Open teaching and learning materials make these calls for free-of-charge, freely available information programmes possible, and offer good opportunities for implementing the Agenda 2030, even outside the primary education sector.

“Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning and research materials in any medium – digital or otherwise – that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaptation and redistribution by others with no or limited restrictions”

UNESCO publishes new definition of OER

The dissemination of Open Educational Resources in Germany is low, however, as was already shown in 2015 in the study “Open Educational Resources in Germany: development status and perspectives (German) and was again made evident in the second UNESCO World Congress on OER (PDF). The essential features of Open Educational Resources – sharing, reuse and further development (German, PDF) – are not yet established as standard in German higher education institutions.

Five challenges hinder the mainstreaming of OER into education
Second UNESCO World Congress on OER

Knowledge about how to produce OER and its challenges is however also essential so that library users can be advised competently. The challenges include reusable licensing, copyright and finding the right tools for the planned OER project. By checking the individual service programmes for OER compatibility, and creating space and programmes for OER in both their analogue and their digital teaching and learning location, libraries can additionally support the dissemination and better use of OER.

First OER project at the ZBW: just do it

For these reasons, Open Educational Resources should be a fixed element of the user services at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics . We therefore decided that the best way to get started in this new topic for us was to implement an OER project in practice. How otherwise could we competently advise students and researchers if we had never been involved ourselves with free licenses or searching for Open Educational Resources and their platforms?

We received regular enquiries as to why this or that was not possible in the context of international inter-library loan and document delivery. Up to now these questions have been asked and answered by email. The topic thus required a lot of explaining. We wanted to change this and communicate the topic proactively in the future, so that it could also be explained and shared among international libraries. Colleagues in the ZBW document delivery department saw H5P as offering a good opportunity to explain the complexity of German copyright law and its consequences for international inter-library loan to international colleagues in a light-hearted yet concise way.

H5P is a free software programme for creating interactive content and exercises. Thanks to the diverse, interactive possibilities it offers, it provides an excellent and light-hearted way to get started in Open Educational Resources. The basic version of H5P is accessible free-of-charge, and content created with it can be re-used.

Communicating knowledge in a light-hearted way: the quiz

The colleagues began by selecting a suitable H5P component for the knowledge transfer intended. The desired blend of explanatory slides and infotainment seemed to be provided by the component “Course Presentation“. Part 1 of the Open Educational Resource created explains the different aspects of German copyright law and its significance for inter-library loan. These include details such as the permissible percentage of 10 per cent of a work that may be copied from the work at most, the definition of ‘public domain’, and the information that the sending of PDFs is not permitted. Following this, in part 2 the knowledge communicated was tested in a quiz.

Part 2 – a Quiz

The approach selected, which made it easier for the team to get started in Open Educational Resources through a familiar territory such as inter-library loan, was successful. All colleagues have expertise and many years of experience in the field. This means that they were able to concentrate fully on developing the H5P slides, selecting license-compliant photos and creating suitable metadata. And that was exciting enough for the start. But the greatest hurdle was the following decision: When is the draft good enough to go online? The perfectionism of librarians and Open Educational Resources would seem to be mutually contradictory rather than complementary.

The H5P quiz on German copyright law in international inter-library loan aroused the enthusiasm of our colleagues who then directly developed a sequel: an explanation of the electronic reading room.

Everyone has to do it: in-house further training on OER

Following these initial experiences, we plan to integrate the insights gained regarding Open Educational Resources permanently into user services and make them available for all colleagues. To this end, our department has initiated the in-house training series “OER for information specialists”. Practical and modular in conception, it provides all employees of the user services with insights into the OER entry topics of licensing, searching for public domain material, and data and media literacy. Additionally, open-source software is presented and tested. All lecturers are departmental colleagues who have familiarised themselves with individual tools in advance.

The first steps towards Open Educational Resources have been taken. The training programme in particular offers potential for further use-based projects and facilitates access to shared knowledge.

Our tips for OER newcomers

To get started successfully with OER, we would recommend taking part in the appropriate workshops and online training courses. There are many offers for this. Then you can see which of the OER platforms fit your library or topic.

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This text has been translated from German.

About the authors

Nicole Clasen is Head of User Services at ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. Her work focuses on information transfer, digital user services and the usability experience.
Portrait: ZBW©, photographer Sven Wied

Carola Ziebart has been working as a media and information services clerk in the user services department of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics since April 2004. She works in the areas of document delivery, service desk, dunning and loss management and also in the area of data quality and coordination.
Portrait: ZBW©, photographer Sven Wied

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Publishing Behaviour in Economics: Coronavirus Pandemic Turns out to Be a Temporary Shock

by Olaf Siegert

COVID-19 has not only had an important influence on daily life, but also on our professional work as researchers and service providers. Trends towards increasing digitisation of the entire research process, in particular through remote conferences and meetings, have changed the dynamics of how research teams interact. Changes in publishing models were also driven by the unique shock of the pandemic to the scientific system. But are there differences regarding changes in publication behaviour in different research disciplines, e.g. in Economics and Business Studies?

Based on these questions the ZBW organised a virtual workshop to highlight recent studies that address and inves-tigate these changes in publication behaviour in response to COVID-19. So, in September 2021 more than 50 participants came together to engage in a productive exchange of ideas.

The seven presentations of the workshop were grouped in two thematic sessions followed by an open discussion with all attendees. The first session focused on general trends in the publishing behaviour of researchers in Economics and Business Studies. The second session was mainly con-cerned with gender disparities in publication behaviour, i.e. the differences in the productivity of women and men during the corona crisis and how these relate to differences in pressures experi-enced by women and men (e.g. childcare during lockdown). The effects of COVID-19 on the role of Social Media and Peer Review in scholarly publishing and its overall impact on the academic reputa-tion system were discussed with all workshop participants at the end of the meeting.

General trends in publishing behaviour during the corona crisis

The first session started with a presentation by Klaus Wohlrabe (ifo Institute Munich) on „The in-fluence of Covid19 on the publication behaviour in economics – Bibliometric evidence from five working paper series (PDF). In his paper Wohlrabe analyses, how the pandemic influenced the publication behav-iour in the area of Economics. He considered articles published in five working paper series (NBER, CEPR, IZA, CESifo and MPRA) to answer questions like: „In what areas of economics were COVID-19-related studies published?“ or „Do COVID-19 papers have been downloaded more often com-pared to other economics papers?“.

The second presenter was Nicholas Fraser (ZBW) with a presentation of his paper „Publishing of working papers during the COVID-19 pandemic: a survey of economics researchers“. He compared repositories from different disciplines (e.g. SSRN, RePEc, BioRxiv and medRxiv) to analyse the changes in publication behaviour, e.g. regarding publication output.

After that Emilia Di Lorenzo (University of Naples Federico II, Italy), Gabriella Piscopo (University of Naples Federico II, Italy) and Marilena Sibillo (University of Salerno, Italy) talked about their paper „Economics and Business Studies during the pandemic and beyond: new research trends“ (PDF). They focused on the developments of research in the field of insurance sciences, based on a bibliometric analysis of the Web of Science database.

The last presenter in the first session, Kristin Biesenbender (ZBW) showcased first results from her PhD study „Publication behaviour of German economists in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic“ based on EconBiz data. The possible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on publication formats, internationalisation, co-authorship and Open Access were presented. The focus was on whether it makes a difference whether a researcher is at the beginning of her : his scientific career or already established.

Gender disparities in publication behaviour during the pandemic

The first presentation in the second half of the workshop came from four researchers from the University of Cambridge, namely Noriko Amano-Patiño, Elisa Faraglia, Chryssi Giannitsarou and Zeina Hasna on “The Unequal Effects of Covid-19 on Economists’ Research Productivity”. They used data mainly from the NBER and CEPR working paper series to explore the patterns of working paper publica-tions. Among other things, they found that gender differences are particularly stark at the mid-career level.

The second presenter was Tatyana Deryugina (University of Illinois, USA) on “Gender Disparities and Covid-19”. She discovered in her survey of academics across various disciplines that female and male academics experienced a substantial increase in time spent on childcare and housework and that the increase was even larger for women. This also led to a reduction of time available for research when compared to men and to women without children.

Illustration from the Workshop “The Impact of Covid-19”, Detail, Helge Windisch

Simone Chinetti from the University of Salerno (Italy) showcased his recent paper „Academic productivity and pandemic – evidence from female economists during the COVID-19 crisis“. He investigated how the current pandemic affects the productivity of female economists, including the sudden increase in domestic work and childcare to be done by women due to school closures and social distanc-ing measures. His data sample came from SSRN papers published between January and November 2020. He found a decline regarding the number of uploaded papers from female economists com-pared to their male counterparts.

Discussion on the change of publishing behaviour in times of a pandemic

The third session of the workshop was an open discussion among participants chaired by Isabella Peters (ZBW). They discussed the following topics:

  • Are research results being shared more intensively via Social Media (e.g. Twitter) or via other online media (e.g. in blogs, news articles)?
  • What is the mode and role of Peer Review when publishing in a pandemic? Are there expe-riences with other formats of Peer Review (e.g. Rapid Reviews, Open Peer Reviews, Open Review Reports)?
  • How has the pandemic affected the scientific reputation system in Economics and Business Studies? What are positions and approaches from learned societies, universities or re-search funders?

To sum up, the workshop resulted in the following four core conclusions:

  1. COVID-19 has meanwhile led to a sharp increase in publication activity, which can be seen above all in the number of preprints published (mostly called “working papers” in Econom-ics). However, this was apparently a temporary effect, which was especially noticeable in spring / summer 2020 and has now subsided.
  2. The pandemic itself was a very strong topic in preprints in economics – around 15% of all publications that have been published since the beginning of the corona crisis also deal with it. Here, too, the effect was stronger in 2020 and is now slowly decreasing again. COVID-19-related papers were also used more, i.e. downloaded and cited.
  3. In relation to gender, a stronger publication activity was temporarily observed among men when compared to women. The slump among women was particularly evident in mothers of young children, who were particularly affected by lockdown and home schooling. Here, too, the effect now seems to be decreasing.
  4. With regard to the reputation system in Economics, COVID-19 does not seem to have any major effects. Above all, the pandemic has positively influenced the publication behaviour in the area of preprints – the importance of journal rankings and the submission behaviour in journals have changed little or not at all.

The detailed workshop programme including abstracts is available here.

This might also interest you:

Author: Olaf Siegert
Olaf Siegert is head of the Publication Services department and Open Access Representative of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics. He is involved with open access as part of his work at the ZBW and is also active for the Leibniz Association, where he represents the Leibniz Open Access working group in external committees. He is involved in the Alliance of Science Organisations in the working group Scientific Publication System and at Science Europe for the Leibniz Association.

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Research Data Management: We Need to Pick Up the Pace

by Prof. Udo Kragl, Prof. Anne Lauber-Rönsberg, Prof. Klaus Tochtermann, Dr Oda Cordes and Dr Anna Maria Höfler

On the initiative of the North German Conference of Science Ministers (NWMK), the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of the State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern organised in cooperation with the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics the workshop “Shaping Research Data Management at North German Universities and Research Institutions Together” (German) on 15 October 2021. Three top-class panels and 200 virtually connected participants discussed strategic plans for campus-wide research data management at universities, future library services and legal aspects.

This article summarises the main results and is intended to further promote the processes and developments that have been initiated.

Research data is generated on a large scale worldwide, whereby the type and volume of data varies greatly depending on the discipline. The type of storage and, above all, the form of publication determine how and to what extent the data become known and usable within the scientific community, but also by the general public. In Germany, the foundations for comprehensive national research data management are being laid at federal and state level with the funding of consortia in various subject areas.

Strategic plans for campus-wide research data management at universities

In the panel on strategic plans for campus-wide research data management at universities, the existing range in dealing with research data was shown against the background that research data management is playing an increasingly important role in the acquisition of third-party funding. This spectrum ranges from “we don’t do that” to a self-image in dealing with research data. The associated orientation towards the FAIR principles (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) is embedded at national and international level in a more general discussion on the use of scientific results under the concept of Open Science: to treat data “as open as possible, as closed as necessary”. For the paradigm shift required for this in the individual disciplines, there are a number of questions and prerequisites that need to be clarified, as the discussion in the panel showed. In the academic institutions, this process has been underway for some time in some places, while in others it is still in its infancy. There are also approaches to a holistic approach. In order to make greater progress in this area, the participants of the panel and the participants at home came up with the following recommendations for all stakeholders in the science system.

  1. Research data management must be included in the curriculum of higher education and thus in the study and examination regulations, so that the awareness of young scientists is raised at an early stage.
  2. Research data management requires the staffing of experts in research data management, both for university education and for the support of scientists at universities.
  3. Research data management requires cooperation between central institutions across universities in the interest of better coordination, including non-university research institutions. The importance of intensive cooperation between institutions with the same orientation at the same location, but also across different locations, was emphasised. In this way, resources can be used effectively and, above all, a contribution can be made to the development of common standards.

Future services offered by university libraries

During the panel on future services offered by university libraries, it was discussed which services university libraries could develop for research data management. These could include consultation formats for finding, citing and documenting research data, dealing with the FAIR principles, offers such as the allocation of persistent identifiers for research data or the role of university libraries in consortia of the National Research Data Infrastructure Germany (NFDI). In the discussion, procedures for the introduction of offers to support research data management by university libraries were exchanged in order to derive the following recommendations for all stakeholders in the science system:

  1. Training courses should be developed and offered that enable certified further training for library staff in the field of research data management. Training is also needed for researchers, for example, in the design of data management plans, the application of FAIR principles or persistent identifiers.
  2. The range of tasks of librarians must be expanded to include new services and advice on research data management. Against the backdrop of the efficient use of resources, the services and advice offered by the university libraries should be provided jointly in a complementary and networked manner.
  3. Cost-intensive and complex infrastructures, such as for the digital long-term archiving of research data, should be established and operated cooperatively, networked and across the borders of federal states.

Legal aspects of research data management

This panel showed that, in view of the complexity of the legal framework, researchers should be relieved as much as possible of the legal assessment of issues related to research data management. This can be achieved by creating legal support and advice services, such as general training and information services, which, however, cannot replace a legal examination of the individual case. Therefore, on the other hand, there should also be the possibility of qualified and comprehensive legal advice in complex cases.

Many universities, university libraries and non-university research institutions have already established advisory services on research data management. However, there is a need for clear regulation on the extent to which these should also provide legal advice. This goes hand in hand with the question of quality-assured training and further education offers and the creation of corresponding career paths and job profiles for the staff working there. In addition, sufficient legal resources should be available at universities and non-university research institutions to provide qualified and comprehensive legal advice. Furthermore, it was emphasised how important the exchange between the staff of advisory institutions on research data management and the legal offices and data protection officers of the universities and non-university research institutions is.

With regard to specific legal issues in the respective discipline, reference was made to the responsibility of the corresponding NFDI consortia. The panel discussion showed that with regard to (co-)decision-making powers on the handling of research data, arrangements and agreements made in advance or the definition of general framework specifications of the research institutions are particularly useful. Since research data management raises a large number of still unresolved legal issues, research funding organisations should take into account the time and effort required to clarify legal issues in funding lines for project proposals.

Recommendations for a future-oriented approach to research data

In summary, the following core statements can be derived from the panels, which apply as a mandate to all participants in the science system:

  • Sustainable structures – first and foremost sustainable, financial staffing – are needed to establish research data management in all subject cultures in the long term.
  • Measures for a paradigm shift – both in the mindset of (early career) researchers and among infrastructure service providers – must be expanded and promoted accordingly.
  • Both the competences at the level of the German federal states and nationally distributed competences and responsibilities must be made visible.

Ultimately, the introduction of research data management is both a task and an opportunity to make more sustainable use of the research results obtained and, above all, to be able to draw more far-reaching conclusions. With the workshop, the northern German states – according to Bettina Martin, Minister for Education, Science and Culture in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in her welcoming address – have set an active sign of scientific cooperation across borders. This will be continued to build upon, because there was broad consensus among the discussants about the topicality and necessity of dealing with this issue on an ongoing basis and, above all, of creating sustainable, viable structures with the involvement of science policy in order to establish effective research data management for researchers.

This text has been translated from German.

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This text has been translated from German.


Prof. Udo Kragl is currently Prorector for Research and Knowledge Transfer at the University of Rostock. His responsibilities there include research data and Open Science. He is chairman of the German Catalysis Society (GeCatS) and a DFG review board member for Technical Chemistry, where these topics are also currently being discussed intensively. He holds the chair of Technical Chemistry and is head of division at the Leibniz Institute for Catalysis, Rostock.
Portraet: ITMZ University of Rostock©

Prof. Anne Lauber-Rönsberg is Professor of Civil Law, Intellectual Property Law, Media and Data Protection Law at TU Dresden. She led the BMBF-funded project “DataJus” on the legal framework of research data management and published a handbook on the subject with colleagues in 2021.
Portraet: Anne Lauber-Rönsberg©, photographer: J. Gilch

Prof. Klaus Tochtermann ist Direktor der ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft. Seit vielen Jahren engagiert er sich auf nationaler und internationaler Ebene für Open Science. Er ist Mitglied im Vorstand der EOSC Association (European Open Science Cloud).
Portraet: ZBW©, photographer: Sven Wied

Dr jur. Oda Cordes is a policy officer for research and research funding at the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of the State of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Portraet, photographer: Anne Jüngling©

Dr Anna Maria Höfler works as a Science Policy Coordinator at the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics as part of the Open Science research group. She is mainly concerned with the topics of research data and Open Science.
Portraet, photographer: Rupert Pessl©

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Open Access Days 2021: Highlights and Most Interesting Topics

by Juliane Finger, Jochen Schirrwagen, Kristin Biesenbender, Ralf Flohr, Jens Lazarus, Claudia Sittner and Julia Wermelinger

Completely online again, the Open Access Days (German) took place from 27-29 September 2021. In ten sessions, five workshops, two keynotes and during a “Poster & Pitches” session, around 400 participants from Germany, Austria and Switzerland discussed online how the OA landscape has changed over the past year, how non-commercial publication initiatives and society in general can participate, and how to realise that less privileged countries also actively participate in the global academic discourse.

The formats of the Open Access Days organised by the were as diverse as the topics, but in 2021 they were much more experienced on the digital event stage: On Zoom, miro and in there were speed-dating, coffee talk, round table discussions, Q&A sessions, a digital games evening, and the great relaunch party for the new website (formerly

The Open Access Days see themselves as a central platform for the German-speaking Open Access and Open Science community. They are aimed at all those who would like to explore the diverse facets of scholarly publishing, such as employees of libraries and other institutions of the academic infrastructure and of publishing houses, as well as scientists and members of academic administrations.

We have asks some Open Access enthusiasts to recall their highlights, trends and the most interesting topics of the Open Access Days 2021 from their point of view.

Open Access Funding Models
Bxy Juliane Finger

Open Access for monographs is a topic which, in comparison to Open Access for journals, has only recently begun to attract attention. Now an entire session at the Open Access Days was dedicated to the issue of the financing of Open Access monographs. Two presentations explored the topic from very different perspectives.

Tobias Steiner introduced the project Community-led Open Publication Infrastructures for Monographs (COPIM). German: DOI COPIM is an international joint project which develops, in several work packages, an entire “ecosystem” for non-commercial publication initiatives for Open Access monographs. The project still has eighteen months to run and several points, such as the question of governance, still need to be clarified.

In the second presentation, Eloísa Deola Schennerlein reported on her practical experiences of the publication funds for Open Access monographs (German) at SLUB Dresden. German: DOI SLUB advocates more transparency on the part of the publishing houses. It only supports Open Access monographs if the publishing houses are willing to disclose their cost structures.

I found it positive that these funding requirements were widely accepted by the authors concerned. SLUB too is still in a pilot phase with its support fund. For all those who are involved with the funding of Open Access monographs, it will be interesting to see how the many open questions discussed in the session, will be solved.

  • Steiner, Tobias. (2021, September 28). Scaling small for a charitable scholar-led OA eco-system for book publications. Open Access Days 2021 (OATage21), online. Zenodo (German).
  • Deola Schennerlein, Eloísa. (2021, September 28). Funding of OA monographs – experiences at the SLUB Dresden. Zenodo (German).

Open Access as a Publication Model: Influencing Factors
and Interactions
By Jochen Schirrwagen

In the session on “Publication evaluations around Open Access” (German, three bibliometric studies from quantitative science research projects were presented, which, when considered together, once again make clear how complex structural, economic and science policy factors and interactions are on publication behaviour and on the impact of scientific publications.

Against the background of the contract cancellations with Elsevier in the DEAL project in Germany, Nicholas Fraser presented the effects of restricted access to Elsevier journals on the publishing and citation behaviour of authors in his contribution. German: DOI It was found that fewer authors have published in Elsevier journals since then, but that access to the publications has presumably been realised via shadow libraries as a substitute.

In her contribution, Fakhri Momeni presented the extent to which limitations inherent in common publication models (gold OA, hybrid, closed) have an influence on the scientific success of authors worldwide. German: DOI In addition to subject- and gender-specific factors, the economic situation also played a role. For example, authors from countries with low income levels are enabled to publish in gold Open Access journals by publishers such as Springer Nature granting so-called waiver policies. However, the study showed that this measure alone cannot adequately solve the challenge of equal publication conditions for all authors.

The fact that the implementation of the Open Access transformation at universities in Germany is taking place to varying degrees was the subject of the third contribution by Nils Taubert. Within the framework of the OAUNI project, research is being conducted here into corresponding factors and patterns that should explain the differences in Open Access profiles at universities in Germany.

Standards for Diamond Open Access Journals
By Kristin Biesenbender

“Collaboratively we can financially sustain and build capacity for a healthier and thriving, diverse, connected, scholar-led publishing ecosystem”, were the closing words spoken by Vanessa Proudman during her presentation at the Open Access Days 2021. German: DOI The topic was how to make Diamond Open Access journals more resilient and fit for the future. Staffing and financial capacities need to be developed for this to occur. It is essential that joint services or infrastructures are developed that benefit many. Standards are also required, in order to raise the visibility and quality of Diamond Open Access journals.

In their presentation (German) Isabella Meinecke and Tim Boxhammer declare that formal quality standards should be maintained, i.e. information on the concept of the journal, licence requirements or also persistent identifiers should be provided. German: DOI Digital standards such as an HTML display of articles, metrics or the display of quotations are important. Diamond Open Access journals should also meet Open Science standards. These include giving details of submission and publication data, the availability of research data and the disclosure of conflicts of interest or funding. Other standards include a modern article template, indexing and long-term archiving.

Standards are not an end in themselves, however, but have practical benefits, Xenia van Edig emphasises in her presentation. German: DOI It is important to support good and open scholarship, to create advantages for dissemination and re-use as well as simplifications for authors. Publishers and editors are therefore requested to take formal quality standards into consideration and implement them for Diamond Open Access journals.

Creative Commons Licences: German-language FAQs Online
By Ralf Flohr

The workshop carried out by Christoph Bruch (Helmholtz Association) and Fabian Rack (FIZ Karlsruhe) presented and discussed the newly designed website (German) of the German-language FAQs on Creative Commons licences. FAQs on CC licences previously only existed in English and French. The German-language FAQs are not merely a translation, however, because they also consider special issues adapted to the German legal system. The FAQs were compiled by members of the German Creative Commons group. The first version went online in June 2021 with ca. 130 questions and answers. The FAQs are a dynamic format which can be expanded and continually developed in the future.

The German FAQs thereby fulfil an important gap, because although the CC licences are widely used when publishing in Open Access, authors are not always sufficiently informed about the way they function..

The workshop discussion explored the most varied aspects of CC licences – such as questions on the existence of several different licence types in a text, to the relationship of quotation law and CC licence as well as the processing and sharing of chapters of a CC-licenced book. The group of participants also made suggestions about the further development of the format of the FAQs, e.g. with fact sheets in which the different perspectives of researchers and editors are taken into consideration.

Community-specific Open Access services: Blogs and OLECON
By Jens Lazarus

The world of academic publications is dominated by publishing houses. For a long time, specialist journals were closed events; for the annual subscription costs, one could also buy a middle-class car in individual cases. The massive transformation to Open Access is changing the situation. Publishing houses have adjusted their business models; however their services during the publication process seem to be indispensable. I was interested to explore alternative projects on publisher-independent services. In the session “Community-specific OA services” at the Open Access Days 2021, two examples showed that the freedom gained through scholar-led publication opens up new possibilities and new ideas for application.

For me the approach of quality-assured multi-author blogs (QMABs) in particular was new. During the session, two alternative routes to publication from the otherwise not particularly OA-savvy field of law were presented: the Verfassungsblog (a constitutional blog – a journalistic and academic forum of debate on topical events and developments in constitutional law and politics in Germany, the emerging common European constitutional space and beyond) and the Völkerrechtsblog (an international law and legal thought blog – an academic blog on all matters of international public law and international legal thought ) Both blogs address the specialist community and promote scientific discourse away from the usual publication paths. The quality assurance of the articles is central for their acceptance – this is realised via the peer review procedure. The open accessibility and format enable an important dissemination beyond academia, for example into the political sphere. The wide coverage and the usage figures prove the success of the QMABs.

Closer to the familiar publication format is the project presented by Juliane Finger (ZBW). German: DOI, which is being realised within the framework of the ZBW’s special funding programme “Novel paths of digital literature provision”: Open Library Economics (OLECON) is a publisher-independent platform for Open Access journals in business and economics. OLECON is not limited to the technical framework that includes hosting in partnership with TIB Hannover; it also incorporates consulting services and the funding to convert journals to a publication model without publication fees (Diamant Open Access), thereby removing a major obstacle to Open Access publishing in the economic sciences. Financing will be organised via a consortium of different libraries in the medium term. This concept creates an alternative to commercial publishing houses for economic sciences journals and enables a direct science-driven approach.

Community-building in Specialist Repositories: Stakeholders
and Instruments
By Claudia Sittner

The workshop was initiated by Dietmar Kammerer and Kai Matuszkiewicz from the University of Marburg, who are working on Media/Rep/, an Open Access repository for media studies publications. They stress that when Open Access repositories are discussed, technical aspects tend to dominate the conversation, whereas the community idea is forgotten. “Repositories are more than a container,” says Kammerer. In their workshop “Community-building in Specialist Repositories”, they brought this aspect to the fore. Their key question: How can stakeholders be integrated into professional repositories in the course of community building in such a way that they set new impulses?

Media/Rep/ is active on twitter (mostly German) and plans to set up accounts on Facebook and Instagram, to reach students in particular. However they also regard their specialist repository as a tool for researchers, who could work with Media/Rep/’s (meta)data. After an impulse talk by the two on Media/Rep/, all workshop participants worked together on a miro board to identify the stakeholders for community building.

miro Board – Stakeholders for community building – Open-Access-Days©

Leading questions were: What forms of participation could and should specialist repositories offer for the different stakeholders? Who needs to be addressed in this context and how? How can these stakeholders be motivated to take part? As well as the expected groups of people such as researchers, students or postdocs, there were also surprises such as secretariats, conference organisers or even associations, to name just a few examples.

During the discussion, Matthias Fuchs from the portal for the mobility and transportation research FID move (German) emphasised that repositories act above all as service providers and in an advisory function. If more were involved, then this would primarily be a (personnel) capacity issue. Anke Butz of peDOCS, the specialist repository for educational science, pointed out that repositories do not take on the tasks of publishing companies but are responsible for the technical components. Instruments for community-building were then gathered on the second miro board:

miro Board – Instruments of community building, Open-Access-Days©

Subject specialists, personal success stories and curated content collections from OA pioneers were identified here as Open Access ambassadors for the specialist repository communities.

Q&A with Open Access Luminary Peter Suber
By Julia Wermelinger

My personal highlight of the Open Access Days 2021 was the Q&A session with Peter Suber. Peter Suber is a luminary of the Open Access movement: Co-founder of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, author of a fundamental text on OA and, not least, active contributor in the debates surrounding Open Access on social media, for example on Twitter.

With his clear and concise answers to the numerous questions from the OA community, he reminded us of the fundamentals of the Open Access aspirations by emphasising the significance of the so-called green path the secondary publication in public repositories. He was sceptical about the transformation of classic publishing houses and journals, and does not see any change happening as long as large APC sums are flowing. It is desirable to increase the OA volume in publishing. Although it is worth striving for an increase in OA capacity in the publishing industry, deploying Big Deals and Read & Publish contracts as well for example, this should not be achieved at any price.

Publikumsvoting in der Q&A-Session

A audience vote revealed that a majority of those present believe that the aims of the Budapest Initiative can be achieved in the future. The biggest obstacle to OA and participation in it was identified by the audience as the culture and habit within the sciences. Suber said that one could certainly work on this. This transformation is underway, thanks to the tireless dedication of all those involved; not only, but especially, the libraries.

More about the Open Access Days

Further reading for Open Access enthusiasts

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