Status: 26.09.2023, 06:00 a.m.
By: Boris Forstner
Kornelia Funke runs the library at the Münztor in Schongau. © Hans-Helmut Herold
Leading libraries in Germany recently demanded that the federal government be allowed to open seven days a week, including Sundays. We asked the district what the library managers thought of it.
County – There is a unanimous opinion in the district as to whether libraries should also be allowed to open on Sundays. Ilka Heissig, head of the Penzberg public library, considers the demand "fundamentally legitimate and sensible. It is a central task of libraries to be a place for people of all walks of life, all ages, religions and backgrounds."
Kornelia Funke, director of the Schongau library at the Münztor, echoes the same sentiment: "Families, working people, indeed all groups of people would have the opportunity to use the libraries in peace and leisure. Many other leisure facilities are also open." And Bernd Wöstmann, head of the Peißenberg municipal library, can also understand the demand. "In North Rhine-Westphalia, where my parents live, it is already possible to open on Sundays, but even in a city like Münster with over 300,000 inhabitants, it has not yet been used."
That's really the question: Would people really accept the offer? Wöstmann believes that opening libraries on Sundays "is more for cities, as demand is already significantly lower on Saturdays than during the week". But his colleagues disagree: "In rural areas, education is just as important and the facilities should be accessible as often as possible," says Margit Kees, head of the Peiting community and parish library. There is also an increased need for educational opportunities in rural areas, partly due to the influx of refugees. "Especially since Corona, our library has been very well received and our lending numbers have doubled. This shows that libraries are also important in rural areas and are very well received by the population," says Kees.
"Sunday has value as a day off"
Funke ("cultural offerings are important for all places, no matter what size") and Heissig ("Certainly, many aspects are easier to realize in large cities. However, there is nothing wrong with offering this in smaller towns as well") are of the opinion that it is not only the size that matters. Rather, some have concerns about whether one should offer even more on Sunday than is already the case: "Sunday has a value as a day off," says Simone Groß, head of the Weilheim public library. The more open on this day, the more hustle and bustle there is, the more commonplace Sunday becomes. "There are plenty of times to borrow something from the library," says Groß. Heissig also fears that the topic will be accompanied by "a fundamental discussion about general Sunday work".
The biggest sticking point, however, is the personnel issue. "Unthinkable," says Heissig, "difficult to implement," adds Wöstmann from Peißenberg, and Groß says: "If I were to ask the city of Weilheim for more staff for a Sunday opening, the case would be settled immediately."
According to Kees, many libraries are run on a voluntary basis, with her in Peiting alone there are 1000 hours per year – "although we are very grateful to the market that we are paid with a part-time position," says Kees.
Libraries with a church background are allowed to open on Sundays
Because it is a community and parish library in Peiting, it is even allowed to open on Sundays because of the church background, but does not do so for personnel reasons. In Schongau, Funke, who is also a volunteer herself, runs the library at the Münztor as well as the smaller library of Transfiguration of Christ, which is always open on Sundays one hour after the service. The response? "It varies," says Funke.
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And if, purely theoretically, the larger library at the Münztor could open for several hours on Sundays with more offerings, would there be more going on? "That's quite possible, I think so," says Funke. If only it weren't for the personnel issue...
By the way: Everything from the region can also be found in our regular Schongau newsletter. And in our Weilheim-Penzberg newsletter.