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German Libraries Lag Behind

Are Germany's public libraries meeting their mandate to bring information to the public and nurture the country's next Einsteins? Hardly, found a freshly released international survey of libraries that gives Germany low marks for the state of its public lending houses. Monday's report, commissioned by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the German Library Association, said German libraries receive considerably less money than their counterparts in other countries, they are visited by fewer people and their collections are their walls of books are less appreciated. The degree of usage and satisfaction by library customers in the other countries surveyed -- including Finland, Great Britain, Singapore, Denmark and the United States -- was considerably higher than in Germany, the study found. It also found that the other countries surveyed spend three to nine-times as much as the one euro per capita paid by Germany to fund its libraries. The organizations said Monday they would release a plan for rehabilitating Germany's libraries during an annual Library Conference in the eastern German city of Leipzig next week.