Last Thursday evening I attended an event at the German Ambassador's Residence to introduce the German Resources in Britain (GRiB) project. The aim of this project is to create a website which will act as a "one-stop-shop" for those interested in the German-speaking countries, their language, cultures, societies and heritage, from school pupils to academic researchers and from the interested general public to professional writers and journalists.
Such a site will offer a search across the catalogues of all member libraries and advice as to which institutions are best for which type and level of research. We also hope to offer access to other material of interest – news articles, interviews, archive material and links – and to make use of social networking tools to encourage interaction between partners and users. The founding partners are all in London, but as the name suggests, the aim is eventually to include institutions from all over the UK.
This is a big challenge. I've been involved with the project since its inception, along with colleagues from the Goethe-Institut London (who gave the initial impetus), the London Library, London University's Germanic Studies Library and the Wiener Library. It had taken many months of discussion and planning to get to the point where we were ready to present the project to a public, and we were both honoured and delighted when the German Ambassador agreed to be patron of the project and to host our presentation at the Residence.
It was a really good evening – I was particularly pleased that our guest speaker was Simon Winder, whose book Germania I discussed in a post last year. In person and as a speaker he was every bit as informed, interesting and entertaining as the book suggests. And, despite my initial nerves, I found myself enjoying my role at the reception as one of the project partners, talking to different guests and explaining more about the project.
As yet GRiB still exists largely on paper. Indeed one of the aims of the event last week was to try and interest potential sponsors in funding the creation of the planned website. That's another big challenge! But there was certainly lots of enthusiasm for the project, and I'm sure that I can safely say: watch this space for more about GRiB in the future!