In early February I was lucky enough to visit the exciting and vibrant city of Berlin in my role as the IALL Board Liaison Officer for the forthcoming Berlin Conference from Sunday 20th September to Thursday 24th September 2015. I have only visited Berlin briefly once before on a wonderful day trip from Hamburg. However my appetite was whetted by this whirlwind trip and I was very much looking forward to a chance to see more of the city as part of the process of finding out more from the local organisers about their detailed plans for the conference.

I arrived on a direct flight from London to the modern medium-sized Berlin Tegel Airport and very quickly passed through the efficient passport control and baggage claim. I had various cheap options to travel into central Berlin including using either the TXL Express Bus  (for the Zoo station in the west of the city) or the Express Bus X9 (for Alexanderplatz in the east of the city), but instead decided to treat myself and pay for one of the many taxis waiting at the airport to take me directly to my hotel. Door to door the cost was 23 Euros, an option to think about if you arrive with heavy suitcases.

For the purposes of the IALL BLO visit, I had booked myself into the modern and comfortable Maritim Hotel Berlin. This will be the official IALL Conference hotel and has the distinct advantage (particularly if you are running late over breakfast) of being just a ten minute walk from the Berlin State Library which will be our main venue throughout the conference. As usual, hotel rooms have been reserved for IALL Conference attendees at a special lower rate including breakfast.

On the main day of my review it was my great pleasure to meet with Jeroen Vervliet (IALL President) and Ivo Vogel (IALL Local Conference Organiser) and his enthusiastic local team at the Berlin State Library. This enormous and rather beautiful 1970’s building is the largest academic library in Germany and has a spectacular reading room which I liked very much. Jeroen, Ivo and I then spent a busy day from 9.00am to 8.30pm running through the preliminary conference academic programme, visiting the proposed venues around central Berlin and clarifying the interim conference budget. Here’s a few highlights which have been arranged by the Local Organising Committee so far:

  • The thought-provoking extensive academic programme will be focused primarily on the German legal tradition in a challenging international context. The transnationalisation of law, the role of Germany in EU decision-making, reassessing the Nuremberg trials, human rights, constitutional law, real property law, legal blogs and access to libraries for researchers with special needs will all be themes.
  • The venue for the Opening Session on Sunday 20th September is already booked and will be held at the stylish Microsoft Atrium in central Berlin.
  • The Otto-Braun Hall will be the main lecture venue and is also booked. This impressive conference facility is conveniently attached to the Berlin State Library and has a capacity of 400. There is deliberately plenty of space outside of the hall entrance for our usual interesting trade exhibition and for refreshment and lunch breaks.
  • Afternoon cultural visits are also being planned to the German Bundesrat and the Sanssouci Palace and Gardens, as well as an evening Berlin City Tour.
  • The IALL Annual Dinner will be held at The Auster in central Berlin on the evening of Wednesday 23rd
  • The Berlin-(+)-Tour is the name for the Optional Day in Berlin on Thursday 24th The educational focus of the day will be on the Research Services of the German Parliament and the Library of the German Bundestag. After the lectures you will receive a special guided tour of the Library which is situated within the magnificent modern architecture of the Marie-Elisabeth-Lüders-Haus. The German Parliament and library are not normally open to the public, so this is a rare chance to see inside and learn about their activities first hand. Additionally, the day will provide a scenic boating tour on the River Spree to discover the City of Berlin by river and to enjoy a buffet lunch and coffee break in beautiful surroundings.

Both Jeroen and I were very impressed with the progress of the Local Organising Committee so far and assured that everything is being done to deliver a wonderful conference in September.

Please do join us! Full details available on the conference website.

David Gee, IALS Deputy Librarian and Academic Services Librarian