Interview Johannes Neuer

ekz benelux interviewt Johannes Neuer

Interview met Johannes Neuer,

Bibliothekarischer Direktor, ekz.bibliotheksservice GmbH

At the coming Informatie aan Zee, Johannes will present his keynote with the title: “Digital Inclusion and Education in Libraries.”  For people who donot know Johannes, we interviewed him about his background and career so far.

How does a German end up in the prestigious NY Public Library?

” Well, my wife was recruited to a job in New York City and I was looking for work there. It was right after the financial crisis of 2008 and finding a job wasn’t easy. I first was employed part time and found a full-time position at The New York Public Library a few months later.” 

Can you tell us a bit more about your activities there?

“I had been working in digital marketing roles for about ten years at that point and my first job at NYPL was eCommunications Manager.

Later I advanced to Director of Digital Engagement and Director of Customer Experience. My work started out in consolidating digital communications, building the social media presence and running digital advocacy campaigns.

Following this period, I was in charge of large system-wide projects, such launching a new ebook app, moving millions of books into new locations, managing the WiFi-lending program or leading a city-wide fine amnesty program for children and youth.”

What were they key learnings during this period?

“My key takeaways were that one needs patience and persistence in affecting lasting change and that building good relationships with coworkers and library users are the keys to success in projects and customer experience.” 

But then you decided to move back to Germany?

“Yes, correct. My wife and I always wanted to return to Germany and we decided that ten years in NYC was enough.”  

As you have a good perspective on this, what do you see as the biggest differences between ‘the German way’ of looking at the library in the community vs the way how they look at this in the US?

“The biggest difference is the attitude that library workers have in the US. Compared to German colleagues, I think that they are more willing to try new things out, are a lot more customer-focused and service-oriented and are also staunch advocates for their institutions and work. As a result, libraries reach a higher percentage of their population and engage a wide variety of people. Of course, it helps that library membership is free in the US and that fines for young readers are increasingly done away with.”

And when you came back to Germany you started at the ekz group; what was the reason to say yes?

“The great thing about the job as librarian director at ekz is that I get to apply my experience in a lot of different ways. That was very interesting to me. I’m particularly excited about the fact that the group of companies offer everything a library needs today: physical books, ebooks and apps, interiors, architectural and consulting services, library materials, events and continuing education, RFID technology and a cloud-based library management system.” 

What objectives did you get when you started at the ekz group?

“As librarian director, I focus largely on the content-side of the business. I lead media sales, selections and data management and communications and marketing. Besides that I’m fortunate to work closely with colleagues in affecting change in the company, such as digital advancements and new ways of working.”

We want to make library easy for librarians and customers. With a wide range of library products and services, ekz-group is well equipped to continue to do so and keep growing.

How does ekz group look at the international library market – are there ambitions to find synergies across territories? if so, which ones?

“The ekz-group has a presence in several countries besides Germany. Of course, we’re in Benelux, but also in Austria and France. We work with sales partners in other countries, too.

We want to make library easy for librarians and customers. With a wide range of library products and services, ekz-group is well equipped to continue to do so and keep growing. Each company in the group plays an important role in their respective markets and we’re working together in finding synergies to further enhance our product lines and services.”

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Thank you very much for your time Johannes and we are looking forward seeing you speak at the Informatie aan Zee!

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