People, 1. -  3. October 1998
Horst Neisser
Abstract: Libraries without books?

Headlines in newspapers like "Books on satellite in the near future" or "Publishing houses stake on the electronic book" are on the increase. More and more information is no longer offered only in printed media but also in electronic form, whether on CD-ROM or in international networks like the internet. When the printed book will have lost its hitherto dominant position, at least in the sector of specialised literature, is foreseeable.

It is natural that this transformation in the information market will also affect professions that were traditionally concerned with books and communication of information: librarians and book dealers. Will they become superfluous now? Will libraries be closed and replaced by mass electronic memories that will be accessible to everyone from home?

That will definitely not happen. In the electronic age libraries have new, important functions. Librarians have new additional tasks and are more important than they were in the past. The age of information requires navigators in the worldwide information jungle. Competence in the field of media will become a central catch phrase.

Libraries and other public institutions must position themselves anew in the market, develop new services and discuss an extended concept of culture.

Biography: Horst Neisser (*1942) is Director of the Municipal Library of Cologne. He studied psychology, empirical cultural science and German literature in Frankfurt and Tübingen. He was the head of the Municipal Library in Saarbrücken and has been Director of the Municipal Library of Cologne since 1986. Under his direction this library developed into a modern information centre with all types of media, electronic data bases and comprehensive services for business enterprises. He also holds professorships at specialised institutions of higher learning in Esslingen and Cologne. A number of publications: specialised books, numerous essays and articles on subjects concerning libraries or innovations in the information and communication sector. Moreover, work for the radio and publications of narratives and novels in renowned publishing houses.
Stadtbibliothek Köln
panel 1 debate 3