New Director of Braunschweig University Library Robert Strötgen takes over the management
Whether you are a researcher or a student – everyone knows the University Library in the middle of campus. From 1 November 2022, Robert Strötgen will be the director of the University Library (UB) of Technische Universität Braunschweig. As the previous deputy director and head of the IT and research-related services, he knows the library very well and will give digitalisation a further boost.
As an IT specialist and career changer to the director of the University Library: It was not the classic path that led Robert Strötgen to the top of the library, but a specialised study of social and economic history and a subsequent study of information science. With the leadership of the University Library, Robert Strötgen is taking over a well-tilled field. A lot has already happened in the areas of digitisation, service orientation and technological change under the leadership of his predecessor Katrin Stump, who moved to Dresden in May as director general of the Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek (Saxon State and University Library).
“With his professional qualifications and his visions for the further development of our University Library, Robert Strötgen has the best requirements to take over the position as director,” says President Prof. Angela Ittel. As the previous head of the IT and research-related services, he brings the necessary experience to continue to successfully position the University Library and, in particular, to drive forward TU Braunschweig’s digitisation strategy.”
Digitisation gives library a new boost
The cosmos of tasks for a University Library is large. Most services are already IT-based and IT is playing an increasingly important role. “Essential for a library is the promotion of Open Science and the shaping of the Open Access transformation,” says the new director. “This transformation of scientific publishing to unrestricted and free access to scientific information on the internet, is the biggest challenge and the most important core issue.” To this end, the University Library provides a publication fund, which is fed in the early stage by DFG funds, among others, and increasingly by the reallocation from the media acquisition budget. “Currently, more than a third of all publications at TU Braunschweig are published Open Access, with an increasing trend.” This process has already led to numerous changes in the library’s workflow, Strötgen reports. “The smooth changes could and can only succeed with the competent and committed team at the library, which has supported and made possible the changes of the last few years. I am proud of the staff of the University Library with their great willingness to develop creative solutions again and again. Without their participation in the change processes and their flexibility, this would not be possible,” emphasises Strötgen.
The University Library sees itself as a service institution, says Strötgen. As a research-supporting institution, it operates close to research and teaching and can thus develop customised services. “Our services are of course geared to the needs of the users. My studies in information science, which focus on the users, have had a great impact on me. In order to offer researchers the best possible support for their research, we are very interested in participation processes. To this end, the library team is also involved in participatory exchange with our scientists”.
Expansion of the research data management
But the tasks also focus on keeping the University Library attractive as a place of learning and communication for students and providing the necessary infrastructure. For this, for example, the library houses almost 1,000 learning places.
As a central university institution, the University Library makes a strong contribution to achieving TU Braunschweig’s digitisation strategy with its services. For example, the new director would like to further expand research data management with the TUBS.researchdata competence centre and is committed to a Lower Saxony state initiative and the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI). In addition, the library is involved in various cooperative Open Source communities. The university archive, part of the University Library, is currently supporting the introduction of the document management system.
In addition, the services related to publication data and research information are being expanded. “For example, we determine indicators that serve to identify new research topics or collaborations,” says Strötgen. The University Library provides further indicators of scientific performance, for example, for collaborative projects, research proposals, awarding of prizes, but also for appointment procedures. For this purpose, it not only offers advice, but also interpretation aids.
The library is also contributing to other strategic goals of TU Braunschweig: “The topic of sustainability plays a major role in procurement, we are increasingly paying attention to multilingualism in our services and we are increasingly taking the topic of diversity into account in literature procurement”.
What does the future of the University Library look like? “Together with my team, I would like to continue to provide all members of the university comprehensively with all the information they need and keep the library attractive as a place to work, especially for students,” is how Robert Strötgen formulates his future goals as the new director of the tradition-rich University Library, which celebrates its 275th anniversary next year.
Robert Strötgen works as a social and economic historian and information scientist at the interface between research and information infrastructure for a good 20 years. Initially, he developed software for researchers at the Social Sciences Information Centre (GESIS), since then he has worked at various university and non-university research and infrastructure institutions, including the Georg Eckert Institute in Braunschweig. Since 2016, he has headed the IT and research-related services at the University Library of TU Braunschweig, and he has been deputy director since 2019. He was board spokesperson of the Information Network for International Relations and Area Studies and is currently board chair of Kitodo. Key to digital objects e.V. and spokesman of the advisory board of the Common Library Network (GBV). He is a member of the Openness of Science & Technology Task Force at CESAER.