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Recording of IFLA NPSIG / IAML webinar “Five Perspectives On Music Librarianship” available now

I recently had the big pleasure to co-organize and present on the webinar “Five Perspectives on Music Librarianship” which was hosted by IFLA’s New Professionals Special Interest Group (NPSIG) in collaboration with IAML, the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives, Documentation Centres. Having strong ties to both groups made this a truly special occasion for me.

Geared towards non-music librarians, the webinar offers five different angles on music librarianship that might serve as a starting-point for anybody interested to learn more about this field of our profession. At the same time, it serves as an introduction to IAML and its international community. Here is the full recording along with the list of speakers and direct links to each of their presentations:

As mentioned in the recording, this webinar is only the first of several music related activities that NPSIG is undertaking. The group is also calling for contributions to the NPSIG Music Context 2021 that will be included in a session about music in libraries at the World Library And Information Congress in Rotterdam next year.


IAML Position Statement on Music in Public Libraries

A position statement on music in public libraries entitled “Facilitators of Creativity and Life-Long Learning” is now available on the IAML website. I have co-written this document with a colleague on behalf of IAML’s Advocacy Committee. There are a number of other position statements and plenty of additional useful resources on advocacy for music libraries available on the group’s page!

I am moving back to Germany!

I am excited to share with you that I have accepted a position at Frankfurt Public Library in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, as head of the Central Music Library! After six years in Qatar, it is time for me and my family to move on. The current plan is to relocate to Germany at the beginning of June, given that things have improved by that time. It is not easy to prepare for such a big change under the ongoing circumstances, but we will make the best of this situation!

I am thankful beyond words for the unforgettable experiences of these past years, all the wonderful people I have met during this time and the amazing opportunities of working in such a unique environment as Qatar National Library. At the same time, I am thrilled and looking forward to the time to come in my new role in Germany!

Collected Audiobook Recommendations 2019

My deep dive into audiobooks in 2018 and newly found appreciation for this format has continued ever since. I am still listening to recorded books almost on a daily basis during my commute to work. Besides obvious benefits like the pleasure of reading, I can strongly recommend this as a daily routine, whether this is to get energized and sharpen your mind in the morning or to clear your head and relax after work. Below are the collected short reviews of all my “reads” in recent months in chronological order, most of which were already posted on social media throughout the year. As you can see, the list is heavy on fantasy novels. While I return to Neil Gaiman frequently, my highlights during the past year were two trilogies: I immensely enjoyed listening to His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman and The Magicians by Lev Grossman. I hope some of the titles below might inspire you to pick up an (audio)book, too, and immerse yourself in a great story!

“What we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: enter at your own risk. We need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story.”

Neil Gaiman, Introduction to “Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances”

Startdust – Neil Gaiman

Another wonderful fantasy novel (and audiobook narration) by Neil Gaiman! If you haven’t touched his books yet, this would be a good one to start with – along with Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book and The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan

Robin’s Sloan style in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore was sometimes a bit too casual for my taste, but I still very much liked the story, in particular for its bookish setting and the involvement of (digital) libraries as a major part of the plot. Ari Fliakos does a great job as the narrator of the audiobook.

His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

If you like fantasy, try Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass). I recently listened to all three audiobooks which are perfectly narrated by the author and a full cast. The fascinating story, its beautiful varying settings and characters kept me captivated for more than 30 hours!

The Magicians – Lev Grossman

The Magicians books (The Magicians, The Magician King, The Magician’s Land) are a fascinating – and at times quite gritty – take on magic in a real world setting. The underlying story takes some time to unfold, but I absolutely enjoyed the trilogy from beginning to end. Mark Bramhall as the narrator is a perfect fit for the books. The TV series based on the novels is also worth watching!

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances – Neil Gaiman

I rarely read short stories, but will always make an exception for those of Neil Gaiman whose work I admire. The compiled stories in this collection all share Neil’s brilliant writing and are wonderfully inventive. Most of them include some kind of uncanny element, several times connected to an unexpected twist in the story. I enjoyed the entire collection, but if I had to pick one favorite, it would be “The Sleeper and the Spindle”. This story combines the classic fairytales of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, but does this in surprising ways by playing with the reader’s expectations and even introducing an element of horror.

What I love about Neil Gaiman apart from his fiction is how much he self-reflects on his profession, his work and those of the writers that have influenced him. He is sharing a lot of this in the introduction including background information to all stories appearing in the book (I recommend revisiting this part after you have finished the collection). As always, it is a pleasure to listen to him performing his own text.

Odd and the Frost Giants – Neil Gaiman

A charming little tale for readers of all ages of a young Viking boy encountering three prominent Norse gods in need of help. No previous knowledge is required to follow the story, but having recently listened to Neil’s take on Norse Mythology definitely added to my enjoyment of Odd and the Frost Giants.

The Testaments – Margaret Atwood

The Testaments is a worthy sequel of The Handmaid’s Tale, providing more insights into life and power structures in Gilead. I really liked the dramaturgic development of the story that slowly weaves together three personal narratives into one overarching plot. This is transferred really well into the audiobook with three different narrators that fit perfectly in with their roles. I am really curious now to take a look at the TV series!

Qatar National Library in Pictures

If you follow me on social media, you will notice my admiration for the architecture of my workplace. What I love about the Qatar National Library building: Even two years after moving in, I still discover stunning new perspectives almost on a daily basis depending on my location, angle of view and time of the day. To honor and illustrate this, here is a selection of my favorite pictures I have taken over the past year of the Library’s exterior and interior. I hope they will convey some of the fascinating aura that surrounds this place.

My new love for audiobooks – Seven lessons learned

In the beginning of last year, I tried something new and started listening to audiobooks during my daily commute to work. What began as an experiment, soon became routine. Over the course of the year I finished fourteen titles of various genres and authors and the list still keeps growing since then. In this post, I would like to share a few takeaways from this experience, including recommendations on authors and titles I particularly enjoyed, reflections on the joy of listening to audiobooks, and finally some thoughts on why and when audiobooks might be worth looking into for you.

Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors.

I had already suspected it from an earlier encounter with The Ocean at the End of the Lane, but now I know for sure: Neil Gaiman belongs to my favorite authors. The past year gave me the opportunity to catch up with many of his works that had been on my reading wishlist for a long time. Most of his novels can be described as fantasy, often with a dark touch and set in a real-world scenario. They are fairytales for younger and older readers you can get lost in while following the main characters on their journey. Being a well-known advocate for libraries, books and the power of reading, Neil also infuses his stories with these themes every once in a while which adds to their appeal. Reading the books is already a pleasure in itself, but listening to the audiobooks read by the author makes them even more compelling, since he is a brilliant narrator, too. If you want to get started with Neil’s novels, I suggest The Graveyard Book, Neverwhere and The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

The narrator’s voice can make a big difference.

You are going to spend several hours listening to the same person, so you have to be comfortable with the voice of the narrator. Luckily, most audiobook productions from major publishers collaborate with experienced narrators. Although I enjoyed all of the titles that I finished, there were a number of narrators that stood out: Neil Gaiman (most of his own work), Jesse Bernstein (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), Rupert Degas (The Wind-up Bird Chronicle) and Adjoah Andoh (The Power). The sound of their voices and their narration style got me hooked right from the first minutes. What also fascinates me about them and other professional narrators is with how much ease they can switch between male and female characters and impersonate different dialects. But even if you don’t feel an immediate connection to the narrator’s voice, it might be worth continuing with the audiobook. I had this experience with Khaled Hosseini narrating his novel The Kite Runner: By the time I had finished the audiobook, his voice and the way of pronouncing local names and places made perfect sense, but it took me a while to get used to it in the beginning.

It’s worth revisiting childhood classics.

Childhood classics such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Winnie-the-Pooh make for a perfect audible delight in between longer titles or if you are short on time. Most of them only last a few hours and, as a prime genre to be performed for an audience, benefit from great narrators (in this case Jim Dale and Peter Dennis). Being only familiar with movie adaptations and other manifestations based on the original works, I greatly enjoyed listening to them for the first time.

It is okay not to finish an audiobook.

What is true for print books, can certainly also be applied to audiobooks: There is no shame in not finishing an audiobook, if you are not enjoying it for whatever reason. The narrator’s voice is not working for you? The book is not living up to your expectations? There are plenty of other titles still waiting for you, so just move on.

If you are frequently consuming podcasts, try getting started with audiobooks.

Before my audiobook experiment, I was frequently listening to podcasts, specifically in long form with up to three hours per episode. I believe this made the transition to audiobooks quite easy, because I was already used to immerse myself into the spoken word over a longer time. If you don’t want to get right into a 10+ hour novel, a good starting point for audiobooks could be popular nonfiction titles. Not only do they tend to be shorter than fiction, their style and content might fall closer to many podcasts that are usually nonfiction. The only title I listened to in that category was a quick, but entertaining 3-hour production of The Little Book of Hygge – The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking.

If you can’t make time for reading books, audiobooks might be the solution.

Having a one year old toddler at home at the time, another reason for me to turn to audiobooks was that I simply couldn’t make time anymore to read print books. Audiobooks gave me the opportunity to satisfy my reading cravings and, in fact, to explore many more titles than I had been able to read before in the same time. Of course, it is also a matter of priorities: I don’t spend much time anymore listening to podcasts or new album releases when I am in the car. But the enriching experience and joy of listening to the mentioned titles and narrators makes it worth all the while.

Libby is a great (free) tool for accessing audiobooks.

One of the biggest motivators for me to give audiobooks a try was the fact that I have access to hundreds of them for free through my local library and I don’t have to use any fee-based platforms. This gave me the chance to freely explore different authors and to move on with other titles in case I didn’t enjoy a particular one. I have accessed all of the audiobooks mentioned in this post through the Libby app from OverDrive which is used by many public libraries around the world. Setting up the app is very easy and the User Interface encourages you to browse through the available collection. You can change the preferences to exclude ebooks and only display audiobook content. Offline access, bookmarks, adjustable play speed, 15 second fast forward/rewind and a number of other functions all add to the ease-of-use of the app. Therefore, if you would like to get started with audiobooks, first get in touch with your local public library to see if they have access to OverDrive or similar platforms.

Four different aspects of librarianship in Qatar discussed in new ebook “Librarians Around the World”

Librarianship is a truly global discipline with practitioners all over the world. Being aware of larger developments in the field and learning about libraries in other regions can broaden your own professional horizon and give you a fresh perspective on things. The new Open Access ebook “Librarians Around the World” helps gain this perspective. It includes contributions by 34 librarians from 19 countries spanning North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia/Oceania. Initiated by the New Professionals Section of the Library Association of Latvia, the project has been in the making since early 2017 and was finally published in December last year. Participants were asked to write about themselves, their libraries, library systems, education opportunities, library related organizations and other aspects of librarianship in their countries.

Together with three colleagues, I contributed a chapter about librarianship in Qatar. In four parts, we are discussing 1. LIS education in Qatar, 2. the establishment of the Library and Information Association in Qatar (LIA-Q), 3. the diversity of the librarian community and library users and 4. Maktaba, Qatar’s first private public children’s library. Below is the full text of our chapter. I hope you will get inspired by this and all the other contributions in the book!

Journal article on the benefits of working in a multicultural team at Qatar National Library

The August/September edition of the German library journal BuB focuses on recruitment and features my article “Personalgewinnung aus dem Ausland: Multikultureller Arbeitsalltag bei der Nationalbibliothek von Katar” (International Recruitment: Experiences of working in a multicultural team at Qatar National Library). The article highlights the many positive effects of an international workforce at QNL in a multicultural country like Qatar.

BuB, Personalgewinnung aus dem Ausland

Working in a team of currently 36 nationalities is a great experience that both expands your horizon and benefits the library in different ways. As a national, public and research library, QNL serves every single person in the community, thus you can find many different cultural backgrounds among its users. In this situation, knowledge from their home countries is extremely valuable for the QNL colleagues in areas such as reference services, collection development, library tours or events targeted at specific cultures or languages. At the same time, the multicultural background enriches the daily work within the team when it comes to bringing together professional expertise from around the world and learning about other cultures and languages. For me, especially the insights to Qatari culture and Islamic tradition are fascinating and provide a much more detailed and nuanced picture than I could ever get in my home country.

It’s happening, I am moving to Qatar!

Some of you already got the news back in November through Facebook and Twitter, but now it is getting serious: In less than two weeks, I am going to move to Doha, Qatar! My first full-time position as a new grad will take me to Qatar National Library where I will start working as a Music Information Service Librarian.

As you can imagine, I am absolutely excited and look forward to this experience, not only for becoming a part of this fascinating library project, but also for getting to know life and culture of the Gulf region!

As soon as I have settled in, I will try to report about my abroad experience on a regular basis. Meanwhile, check my tweets for the latest updates.

Talk to you soon from Doha!

LIS-Corner auf der Frankfurter Buchmesse 2009

Die drei Fachbesuchertage auf der Frankfurter Buchmesse sind vorbei, heute werden die Tore für das breite Publikum geöffnet. Ich bin seit Montag als Teil von LIS-Corner mit dabei. Wir stellen wie im letzten Jahr mit fünf LIS-Hochschulen aus Deutschland und der Schweiz auf einem Gemeinschaftsstand unsere Studiengänge vor, präsentieren aktuelle Projekte, an denen wir arbeiten, und zeigen dem Messepublikum auf diese Weise, was moderne BibliothekarInnen bzw. InformationsspezialistInnen heutzutage ausmacht. Darüber hinaus können wir uns bei dieser Gelegenheit untereinander kennenlernen, vernetzen und Ideen austauschen. Und letztlich macht es einfach unglaublich viel Spaß, eine Woche lang als Aussteller auf der Frankfurter Buchmesse zu sein und damit auch ein bisschen was von der Atmosphäre “backstage” mitzukriegen.

LIS-Corner 2009

LIS-Corner 2009

Weitere Informationen über LIS-Corner auf der Frankfurter Buchmesse 2009 findet ihr tagesaktuell in unserem Blog, angereichert mit vielen Fotos und Videos.