Verein Deutscher Bibliothekare (VDB)
The Association of German Librarians - an Overview
In Germany, there are a number of different associations, committees, commissions and study groups catering for the needs of librarians and information professionals. The country’s most venerable and oldest library association is the Verein Deutscher Bibliothekare, the Association of German Librarians, founded in 1900. With its current membership of around 1,700, the VDB provides a single voice Germany’s academic librarians and represents their professional interests.
Aims and activities
The VDB aims to encourage communication and exchange among Germany’s academic librarians and to represent their professional interests. The Association serves to promote discussion on and the continuing development of professional standards and supports the academic library sector. Current issues concerning the profession are addressed in regular workshops, seminars and conferences, through various publications as well as the dissemination of information both to members and the general public, often in close cooperation with other organisations working in the library and information sector.
Addressing the Issues Concerning the Library Profession
The VDB currently has four permanent commissions which address issues of special importance to the profession, i. e. professional qualification, subject librarianship, management and controlling as well as legal issues. They are supplemented by permanent and ad-hoc working groups for more specific professional interests.
Organising Conventions and Seminars
The annual Convention of German Librarians (Bibliothekartag), jointly organised by VDB and BIB (Berufsverband Information Bibliothek), is Germany’s most important forum for continuing qualification in the library and information sector. In addition, there are numerous meetings of different kinds organised by the federal association, the commissions, and the regional associations, either alone or in cooperation with library schools, centres of further education, libraries and other organisations with national, regional or local focus.
The best known VDB publication is the Yearbook of German Libraries (Jahrbuch der Deutschen Bibliotheken), first published in 1902, which serves as a comprehensive directory for Germany’s academic librarians. It contains both names and personal data of all academic librarians, evoking a feeling of corporate identity in the profession. It is updated every two years and includes extensive sections on libraries and funding bodies as well as many other useful details for day-to-day business. Furthermore, in cooperation with BIB, VDB regularly publishes proceedings containing the most important papers presented at the annual conventions. Other publications are printed when the demand arises. Once a year, the VDB releases its magazine VDB Mitteilungen which is issued to members free of charge and is also available to the general public. There is also a PDF-version available on the Internet.
National and International Cooperation
The VDB works in close cooperation with other organisations in the library and information sector. It is a member of the Union of German Library and Information Associations (BID - Bibliothek & Information Deutschland), the umbrella organisation for German library associations. It is also a member of the Association of Senior Civil Servants Organisations (AhD - Arbeitsgemeinschaft höherer Dienst) which represents more than 100,000 senior civil servants and public employees in Germany. International memberships of the VDB include the International Federation of Library and Information Societies (IFLA), the Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche (LIBER) and the European Bureau of Library Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA). The VDB cooperates and has friendly ties with many library associations in other countries - formal cooperation agreements currently exist with sister organisations in Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol and Georgia. Beyond these institutional links, the VDB supports the on-going efforts of its members to improve the ties between its members and colleagues both nationally and internationally.
How the VDB works
The organisational structure of the VDB is as follows: the board is elected by the general membership and consists of the president, two vice-presidents, secretary, cashier and up to three elected committee members. The board represents the Association and is responsible for current business. The executive committee consists of the board and the chairmen of the permanent commissions as well as of the regional associations. The executive committee is responsible for the strategic objectives of the Association. The largest and most important forum of the VDB is the general assembly which makes all decisions concerning the work of the Association. It has become a tradition for the assembly to meet during the annual conventions of librarians, and it is the members’ platform for discussion and new ideas.
The VDB is a non-profit-organization, financially independent and does not receive any support from the government or any other third party. Membership fees and occasional donations are the only sources of funding.
Important issues are addressed mainly by the VDB’s commissions and working groups. Currently there are four permanent commissions:
- The Commission for Professional Qualification deals with questions related to the training and further education of academic librarians and to inform the public about the profession of an academic librarian.
- The Commission for Subject Librarianship contributes to the on-going process of developing the profile of subject librarianship, organises seminars and workshops for subject specialists and supports projects in innovative subject librarianship.
- The Commission for Management and Corporate Governance analyses methods and processes in the field of library management and assesses their usefulness for the day-to-day running of libraries.
- The Commission for Legal Affairs offers legal advice to the board of the Association and also to the members concerning issues related to personnel and labour, as far as this is permitted by law.
The VDB’s Regional Associations group the Association’s members in one or more of Germany’s 16 Länder. They promote the interests of the Association autonomously within their region, organise regional conferences, provide educational seminars and study trips, invite people to participate in regional meetings and regular get-togethers for librarians, and cooperate with other library organisations in the library and information profession. A number of regional associations publish their own newsletters. Membership in a regional section is usually automatically included in the membership in the federal association. Additional membership fees are only due in Hesse.
How to join the VDB
If you are an academic librarian, a library employee with a university degree or training for a profession in librarianship or hold a senior position in an academic library, you are invited to join the VDB. Librarians from other countries are also very welcome to join the VDB. As of January 1st, 2005, the annual membership fees are EUR 60 (EUR 50) for members working more than half-time and EUR 30 (EUR 25) for members working half-time or less. (The sums in brackets apply to members from the eastern Länder of Germany until further notice.) Unemployed members can apply for an exemption from fees. As a member, you will receive free copies of the VDB-Mitteilungen and the Yearbook (Jahrbuch der Deutschen Bibliotheken) as well as other advantages.
For more information please contact
Verein Deutscher Bibliothekare e.V. - Geschäftsstelle -