Bibliothekartag Library Conference Recap

The Zukunftswerkstatt Family
May 22 2012
My first official day at the conference!

With Julia Bergmann and Christoph Deeg of the Zukunftswerkstatt (my wonderful hosts and German family!)

Today I finally got to meet the Zukunftswerkstatt partners and collaborators.  I say finally because I had known most of the players for two years via Skype.  We started off the program by doing what we do best…playing some video games!  It was great to enjoy games with librarians in Germany and talk about how important games could be to their communities.  Many German librarians told me that the German way was to “learn about things, talk about things, and maybe get around to it in a few years.”  I don’t know if that’s necessarily true or not because I found most librarians I spoke with excited to just try something new like video gaming as soon as they could.

We also kicked off the International Gaming League which featured a brief talk by myself and also Eli Neiburger (for more info on the GT Gaming System that the Gaming League will be using, go here and here and here).  I’m really excited to get this project moving because it means we can have more gaming tournaments and invite even more players into the league to enjoy games in the library.

I was also very lucky to be interviewed and featured in the Kongress News publication.  You can read my interview here.

I met a lot of wonderful people on the first day and had a lot of great conversations about just how important it is to give people the feeling of community in the library, to give them a place that they feel belongs to them.  That was one thing that I quickly noticed that was a universal theme for libraries moving ahead.

May 23 2012
Bibliothekartag 2012 Library Conference 

View more presentations from Justin Hoenke

Today I presented on gaming in libraries at 16:00 in the Zukunftswerkstatt conference center.

My talk was a pretty refined version of the ideas I’ve been talking about for the past few years concerning gaming, libraries, community, teens, and more.  My main message was that like other things we’re doing in libraries, gaming has the power to bring people together, create community, introduce people to not only new technologies but new people in their community, and also broadens the scope of what libraries can be to their communities.

I spent the last part of the day chatting one on one with a lot of librarians about gaming who had specific questions about how to get games into their library and much more.  Those moments were great because it allowed me to really connect with German librarians and see what was most important to them.  I also saw just how much passion they bring to the table…they want to change things and make their libraries better for their communities.  Very inspiring stuff.  I joined the Zukunftswerkstatt crew at a local Biergarten later that night where I talked with a lot of people: Christoph Deeg, Julia Bergman, Jan Holmquist, Martin Kramer, Iris Haffner, Petra Pauly,  and Stephanie Frölich.  The beer, the food, and the conversation were top notch.

Photo by Iris Haffner

May 24 2012

Presenting with Jan Holmquist on the Buy India a Library project

Today I presented with with Jan Holmquist on the Buy India a Library project.  Jan and I presented on how we came together for the project, how we put the project together without ever meeting each other in person (until this conference, that is!), and gave an update showing how the project had been moving along.

Afterwards, I had the opportunity to enjoy the city of Hamburg with Jan.  We walked around Hamburg and talked about everything we saw around us and how we could take that inspiration and funnel it into libraries.  Everything we saw inspired us to get back to our communities and try something great for them.

Iced Tea cheers!

And just as quickly as it began, I was on a plane back home for Portland, ME.  I’m still sorting through everything that I learned and experienced from my trip and without a doubt I will eventually come across an idea from the conference (don’t they always come back at the perfect time?) but I’ll leave with something that Petra Pauly of the Zukunftswerkstatt reminded me that I said at the end of my stay in Hamburg:

We’re not just friends, we’re family

I think that rings true with everything: the Zukunftswerkstatt, the International Library community, and the communities that we live and work in.  We are there for each other to give support, inspiration, hope, and more.

Before I end, I wanted to say thanks to a few folks:

To Christoph, Julia,  and everyone involved in the Zukunftswerkstatt (you know who you are!).  Thank you for bringing me over to your lovely country, thank you for your hospitality, and thank you for giving me to the inspiration to come back to the states to make the library even better for the community I serve!

To my colleagues at the Portland Public Library for supporting this trip and keeping the teen area up and running while I was gone. 

For more on the programs, the trip, and the presentations:
#BibTag12 recap via Zukunftswerkstatt 
Buy India a Library Project Update
Recap from 
Empty Reader #bibtag12 recap
TWIL #73: Julia Bergmann 


  1. Justin I just think this is so cool!!!!! Sally soon to be at Raymond Village Library…hope to do things with teens there also….

  2. Dear Justin,

    thank you so much for coming to germany, sharing ideas, giving us a unique experience and becoming part of our little community. For us it was a honour to have you here. And we are looking forward to work on the gaming-league and all the other programes that we talked about. Also many thanks to your colleagues at the Portland City-Library to support you! When i come to the US this or next year i will do a social-media-gaming-barbecue with you all:-)

    All the best from germany


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