In the early 60's, Udo Wasmer setup a public library run by volunteers. Graduate librarian Sobieroj Martin was one of the first full-time employees. Almost 20 years later, Bühl readers got their first library: the former municipal building at 5, Hindenburgstraße.
From public library to media library
There are 40 years between the modest beginnings of the Bühl Public Library, when it was rebuilt after the Second World War and the media library that was opened in 2001. Neither the spread of television in the early 60's nor the computer boom in our own time have been able to stop the progress of the library in Bühl. Despite the variety of media, the demand for good literature and other quality items continues to grow, even today.
At the end of the 50s, the public library system in Bühl was completely broke. As a result of the war and the post-war conditions, the stock of books belonging to the old library had been scattered or were no longer of any use. In 1957, the population elected their first mayor - and later Lord Mayor - Eric Burger, who soon after taking office started an initiative to establish a public library.
State grants and municipal funds were used to buy books and shelves, but it wasn't until 1961 that a suitable space was found in a former school hall (now the Child and Family Centre). At the time of opening in May 1961, the stock consisted of 600 volumes: literature, children's books and nonfiction. The volunteer-run institution was opened by the Director of Studies at the Grammar School, Udo Wasmer (d. 1995), initially for only two days and a total of four hours per week. Over the next few years, the stock was built up book by book, as has to be done in a voluntary managed library with sparse resources.
In the early 80s, Mayor Ulrich Wendt - again, newly elected to office - initiated the professionalization of the organization. In 1981 the public library acquired a new home at 5, Hindenburgstraße, with several rooms on the ground floor. It now had over 160 square metres. Graduate librarian Martin Sobieroj was its first full-time employee, and heavily increased the book budget.
Within a few years, lending increased from 3,600 books (1982) to about 10 times as much (1987) with a total stock of 13,500 volumes. This required two part-time employees to be taken on. In 1988 it was extended, with a spiral staircase bringing the library into the first floor of the building and thus an additional 80 square metres for the non-fiction section. Library assistant Iris Gloger joined the team at this point.
In the early 90s, another newly elected mayor, Gerhard Helbig, provided the impetus for a significant development – but one which, however, took 10 years to implement. In 1991 the council agreed a far-reaching library design, with the aim of extending the public library to have 48,000 media units on offer. The number was based on a calculation provided by consultants from the State Service for Public Libraries, Karlsruhe, which works on the basis of two units of media per capita.
In 1992, Graduate librarian Sonja Kropp took over the management. Electronic data processing was introduced in 1993. In the same year, with almost 25,000 media units and 74,000 loans, the library was already at the limits of its capacity. In 1996, moving the offices to vacant rooms that were available in the building provided some breathing space. The establishment of a youth video store increased the range of services available. The name was changed to Public Library. In addition, a traineeship for a specialist in media and information services, with a specialisation in librarianship was created.
Hans Striebel, elected as mayor in 1997 and previously deputy mayor, shortly after taking office forced through the implementation of the library concept. In 1999, the City of Bühl set up an urban design competition for the construction of a new secondary school and public library. The Bühl architects Wurm + Wurm took one of the top two prizes, and later that year received the design contract for the library. In the same year, over 100,000 items were lent out from the old library building.
The construction of the project, estimated at seven million marks, began on 14 August 2000 with the closure of the premises at 3, Hindenburgstraße (now Vilafranca Square), near to the old city library. The topping out ceremony was on 5 April 2001. Following a competition, on 21 June the Council’s Cultural and Social Committee decided to call it the Media Library.
The City Library closed in August to organise the move to the Media Library. The computer system was also converted to Bibliotheca 2000 (Bond). Astrid Hörth was hired as a second graduate librarian.
The library opened with a ceremony on 14 December 2001, and lending started the next day. Opening before the end of 2001 was a condition of obtaining a redevelopment grant from the state of Baden-Württemberg of one million marks (€ 513,000) before it expired.
In subsequent years, the stock was expanded from 30,000 to 56,000 media items.