Germanists Discussion Group Minutes – 2010 Midwinter

ALA Midwinter Meeting, Boston

Germanists Discussion Group and Romance Languages Discussion Group Joint Meeting
Sunday, January 17, 2010
10:30am – 12:00pm
Westin Boston Waterfront, Hancock Room

Cultural Centers and Academic Libraries: Opportunities for Collaboration


  • Deb Raftus, University of Washington
  • Anna Shparberg, Rice University


  • James Niessen, Rutgers University
  • Richard Hacken, Brigham Young University
  • Deborah Rose-Lefmann, Northwestern University
  • Gail Hueting, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign
  • Frances Ott Allen, University of Cincinnati
  • Sheila Smyth, University of California, Irvine
  • Sue Waterman, Johns Hopkins University
  • Sebastian Hierl, Harvard University
  • David Levenson, Harvard University
  • Heleni Pedersoli, University of Maryland
  • Timothy Shipe, University of Iowa
  • Jon Marner, Texas A&M University
  • Katie Gibson, Miami University, Ohio
  • Josh Lupkin, Southern Methodist University
  • Anne Marie Lane, University of Wyoming
  • Tracey Beck, Leo Baeck Institute
  • Graham R. Walden, Ohio State University
  • Anna Bjartmarsdottir, University of Washington
  • Heidi Madden, Duke University
  • Diana Chlebek, University of Akron
  • Rich Ring, University of Kansas
  • Sue Roberts, Yale University
  • Judy Alspach, CRL
  • Louis J. Reith, Georgetown University
  • Pamela Roberts, Montgomery County Public Library, MD
  • Colin McCaffrey, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Joleen Westerdale, Keene State College
  • Sarah How, Cornell University
  • Sarah G. Wenzel, University of Chicago
  • Genevieve Podleski, Pratt Institute
  • Patsy Baudoin, MIT
  • Diane d’Almeida, Boston University
  • Dominique Coulombe, Brown University
  • Julianne Haahr, University of Wisconsin-Madison


I. Introductions and Announcements

  • Deb Raftus announced that her term as chair of the Romance Languages Discussion Group (RLDG) is ending with Annual 2010 and encouraged WESS members to volunteer.
    • The person elected to the position will serve as Chair for the 2011 Midwinter and Annual meetings.
  • 2011 will mark the 20th birthday of the RLDG.
  • The RLDG meeting at Annual 2010 in Washington, D.C. has room for one more speaker. Members are encouraged to volunteer or to suggest additional speakers of interest to the group.
  • Anna Shparberg announced that Sebastian Hierl has been elected as the secretary/chair of the Germanists’ Discussion Group for 2010-2011. His term as chair starts at Midwinter 2011.
  • Nancy Roy from Oxford University Press provided an updated on the The Electronic Enlightenment, which has grown to include over 55,000 letters, including numerous letters in French, Italian, and German. Nancy Roy also announced that the Stanford Humanities Center is partnering with the NEH and JISC to include historical maps in the Electronic Enlightenment.

II. Introduction of the Speakers

  • Nicole Malo, Librarian, French Library Alliance Française of Boston
  • Brigitte Doellgast, Librarian, Goethe Institut New York
  • Deb Raftus, Romance Languages & Literatures Librarian, University of Washington

III. Discussion

  • Nicole Malo provided an introduction to the history and the mission of the French Library & Cultural Center at the Alliance Française of Boston. Located in the historic Back Bay district of Boston, the French Library was founded in 1945 as an independent organization. In 2000, the French Library and the Alliance Française merged. Together, they provide French language courses; access to over 27,000 volumes, thousand of AV-materials, in particular French films, but also audio-books and other language and music recordings, a large collection of French children’s books, and interlibrary loan services. The French Library and the Alliance Française further organize regular cultural events, destined to introduce and to promote French culture in Boston and beyond. For more detailed information about the history of the French Library, its collections, and activities, please consult
  • Brigitte Doellgast provided a similar introduction to the role and the history of the Goethe Institute across the world and, more specifically, of the Goethe Institut New York. The Library of the Goethe Institut New York is the only library in the United States (the Goethe Institut in L.A. has a media lounge). Other libraries in North America are located in Mexico City, Montréal, and Toronto. The Goethe Institut New York library is open to the public and holds approximately 7,000 volumes, including books (one-quarter of which are in English), audio books, DVDs, CDs, newspapers, and magazines. The library offers ILL services to its members and is part of the German Library Consortium. The collections have several areas of specialization: contemporary and classic German literature; German Film; contemporary German art; and German history from the late 19th century to the present. Brigitte Doellgast further manages a blog, entitled Current Writing in German, which provides information on German literary activities in the United States, noted new translations from German into English, and announcements of literary award winners and other news of interest. The library also runs a European Book Club with other cultural institutes in NYC and hosts regular cultural events, such as the upcoming conference on “New Literature from Europe” in the fall of 2010. The institute further promotes the dissemination of German culture in the U.S. by offering the Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize, which is awarded each spring to honor an outstanding literary translation from German into English. Brigitte also announced the current exhibit at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York, entitled “Publishing in Exile”, open at the Leo Baeck Institute until March, 2010, and which will thereafter travel the country. WESS members wanting to host the exhibit at their institution are to contact Brigitte Doellgast. In addition, Brigitte is supporting German-U.S. exchanges of LIS students and the Goethe Institut hosts a Librarian in Residence program. Brigitte is also involved in the GNAPR Librarian Exchanges Working Group and is coordinating the visit of German librarians to the U.S., such as the upcoming visit of Dr. Rafael Ball of the Bibliothek Regensburg. The Goethe Institute is further working on a project to promote the German heritage in the U.S. and a possible collaboration on an inventory and the digitization of German language newspapers in the U.S. was discussed. Finally, Brigitte announced that the German LIS publication, ‘’Bibliothek & Information International,’’ has issued a call for papers for the upcoming meeting of the German Library Association and that it will be providing travel grants for U.S. librarians whose papers have been accepted. Additional services for librarians and activities of the institute are detailed on its website.
  • Deb Raftus concluded the presentations by discussing her collaboration with the Instituto Cervantes, located on the campus of the University of Washington in Seattle. In particular, Deb detailed her cooperation with the representative of the Instituto Cervantes in the teaching of Spanish language courses and in providing services to University of Washington, such as the rapid delivery of Spanish language materials via ILL through the network of the Instituto Cervantes and the organization of cultural events. In addition, Deb pointed to the rich collection of links and resources on the website of the Instituto Cervantes, the Centro Virtual Cervantes.
  • A Q&A session followed the discussion.
  • The speakers of the upcoming Annual meeting were announced: Elke Greifeneder from the Institute for Library and Information Sciences at Humboldt University in Berlin and Dr. Rafael Ball of the Library of the University of Regensburg and, in particular, the Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek.
  • Dominique Coulombe, in her role as Chair of CIFNAL, announced that CIFNAL has negotiated a preferential license to the Electronic Enlightenment, with the support of CRL, and that interested institutions should contact her or Sarah Wenzel at the U. of Chicago.
  • To conclude the joint meeting of the RLDG and the Germanists DG, members summarized in a round robin the financial situation of their respective institutions.

Minutes submitted by Sebastian Hierl