up2date. Das Onlinemagazin der Universtiät Bremen

Have You Heard of…The Book Tower?

There is a great deal to be discovered on campus but what is the story behind it all? up2date. has collected the answers for all of you curious readers. Welcome to your tour of the campus!

Students and guests often wonder about the snow-white cube, which seemingly appears to be floating next to the Bremen State and University Library. Its façade gives some clues as to what is inside. If the light is right, for example when the early morning sun is shining, relief-type words can be seen on the anodized metal sheets: literature, pages, novel, characters, works, citation, and many more terms related to reading.

The windowless book tower really is an architectural highlight on campus. The tower was opened three years ago, as there was not enough space in the old storage facility, which has been used since 1998. It is on the roof of said facility that the new building stands. A few facts: Nearly 4 million euros were invested for the tower’s four stories. The mobile shelving units, which are spread over 1,530 square meters and have a total length of 25 kilometers, offer space for 725,000 books.

Bücherturm SuUB Regale
25 kilometers of mobile shelving units offer space for 725,000 books.
Photo: Harald Rehling / University of Bremen

100,000 Books Have Already Found a Spot

When Claudia Bodem, vice director of the library and head of the User Services Department at the Bremen State and University Library, is asked if the four stories are already full, she exclaims “Thankfully, they are not.” Around 100,000 books have already found a spot. “The remaining stock from the old State Library alone is comprised of 65,000 volumes. Three staff members, of which one has a part-time job, have worked wonders since the end of 2016.” According to Bodem, they have put away the old stock, resorted it, and made sure it is in a clear order. “An arduous venture as some of the Roman numeral labels were no longer to be found in the right places.” Some of the volumes from the old Bremen State Library were returned from Tbilisi, Georgia, in the middle of the 1990s. The Soviet army had taken them at the end of the Second World War. During the relocation into the storage tower, these books also had to be arranged within the stock of the old State Library.

Storage Space Should Suffice for Ten Years

The so-called obligatory stock is stored on the first story. “We have the job of archiving everything that is printed in Bremen State,” says the vice director. She is happy that some space is still free. “It was the free spaces that we were able to use intermediately whilst the subject-specific library of the economists moved to Haus am Fleet.”

The storage space was originally intended to suffice for ten years. That was the construction plan and in the eyes of the expert, this seems realistic as the stock is becoming more and more digital. Licensed versions of e-books and journals are offered by the library. The data is stored on the publishing house servers. Naturally, printed books are still being purchased even if the number of rentals is going down. “We purchase tens of thousands of volumes each year,” explains Claudia Bodem. New releases mainly come from the book-oriented sciences, such as law, economics, and cultural sciences. It is reassuring to know that there is still a great deal of space in the book tower.

Bücherturm SuUB Schrift
You can read the beautiful building façade made of anodized metal panels.
Photo: Harald Rehling / University of Bremen

A tip: When the light is right, take a moment to read the outside of the elegant building!

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