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Press Release No. 54 | 20 December 2013
Specialised Information Services: DFG boosts library services for researchers

New programme for ongoing development of literature and information resources / First five institutions, in humanities and social sciences, receive €6.8 million in funding

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is establishing five Specialised Information Services for Researchers at academic libraries. This was decided by the DFG Joint Committee in its December meeting. The new funding programme is intended to enhance the service function of libraries with respect to the research community. It will enable libraries to develop tailor-made services for individual disciplines by making available research-relevant materials and resources that extend beyond basic library resources. The objective is to provide researchers working in Germany with fast, direct access to specialist literature and research-relevant information in their own fields, no matter where they are based. There is a special emphasis on access to digital media.

The first five Specialised Information Services that have just been approved are being set up for disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, with facilities for other subject areas to follow in the years ahead. The services being funded initially are:

  • Specialised Information Service for International and Interdisciplinary Law Research, Berlin State Library – Prussian Cultural Heritage
  • Specialised Information Service for Criminology, Tübingen University Library
  • arthistoricum.net – Specialised Information Service for Art, Heidelberg University Library and Saxon State and University Library Dresden
  • Specialised Information Service for Media and Communication Studies, Leipzig University Library
  • Specialised Information Service for Music Studies, Bavarian State Library in Munich

The five institutions will receive a total of €6.8 million over the next three years.

During this time, the establishment of Specialised Information Services for Researchers will replace the funding of special subject collections at academic libraries in Germany. Commenting on the first funding decisions, DFG President Professor Peter Strohschneider said: "This new programme is the DFG's systematic response to the current state of information provision. The basic restructuring of special subject collections is not about redefining what a library is. Rather, the DFG is adapting its funding role to the digital age."

The new programme follows on from the position paper finalised in 2012, "Continuing to shape the digital transformation". This paper calls for and describes an important paradigm shift: rather than supporting a comprehensive literature archive in line with prescribed criteria, the funding objective is to develop information services that respond to the research interests of the relevant academic communities. For the libraries, which have contributed to the system of special subject collections for over six decades, the challenge now is to adapt their services in direct response to the needs of the research community.

The new funding programme will allow libraries to use funds more flexibly and develop services that extend beyond their basic function in close dialogue with researchers. This, it is hoped, will enable them to deliver a long-term response to the changes and challenges associated with the digital revolution.

Further Information

Media contact:

  • Dr. Rembert Unterstell,
    DFG Press and Public Relations,
    Tel. +49228885-2275,

DFG programme contact:

  • Dr. Christoph Kümmel,
    Scientific Library Services and Information Systems Division,
    Tel. +49228885-2857,