16th December 2019

New Director General of the German National Library, Frank Scholze

13 December 2019 press release

Frank Scholze was installed in office as the Director General of the German National Library at a ceremony held today in Frankfurt am Main. Prior to this, Dr Günter Winands, Undersecretary to the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media and Chairman of the Administrative Council of the German National Library, bid farewell to Dr. Elisabeth Niggemann as she entered her retirement. She had held the post of Director General since 1999. Frank Scholze will take office on 1 January 2020.

Minister of State for Culture Monika Grütters started by saying:

“By appointing Frank Scholze, the German National Library has chosen a recognised library expert and highly experienced library manager as its new Director-General. His extensive expertise, his leadership skills, and in particular his experience in the field of digital libraries are important qualities for this post. I am convinced that Frank Scholze will succeed in optimally positioning the German National Library in the digital age and will bring in many new ideas for continuing the transformation process.”

“We owe a great debt of gratitude and appreciation to Elisabeth Niggemann, who directed the German National Library with great success for more than 20 years and resolutely took it into the digital age. She recognised the possibilities of digitisation early on and met the new challenges with innovative spirit, foresightedness and tenacity. She has played a significant part in ensuring that cultural heritage is now widely accessible to the public.”

Born in 1968, Frank Scholze studied librarianship, art history and English. From 2010 on, he was the Director of the Library of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. In April, the Board of Directors of the German National Library sent a proposal to the Federal President recommending the appointment of Frank Scholze as Director General of the German National Library. His aim is to continue developing the German National Library as the “cultural memory of the past and future”. Frank Scholze is a member of the federal executive committee of the German Library Association (dbv) and also sits on numerous other scientific committees and councils, including the Gesellschaft für Klassifikation Data Science Society (GFKl). In 2019, he became a member of the editorial committee of “Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie” (Journal of Library Studies and Bibliography). He is involved in numerous projects in the areas of digital librarianship and research information and was the spokesperson for the electronic publishing working group of the German Initiative for Network Information (DINI).

Elisabeth Niggemann’s term in office saw the passing of an amendment to the Law Regarding the German National Library which extended the Library’s collection mandate to online publications; she also supervised the construction of the German National Library’s 4th annex in Leipzig. Her commitment to national and international causes was reflected not least by the establishment of the European digital library Europeana and the development of the Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek (German Digital Library). She also advised the European Commission on issues relating to the digitisation of cultural heritage with the objective of making heritage materials as widely accessible as possible. At the beginning of the year, Federal President Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier awarded Elisabeth Niggemann the 1st Class Federal Cross of Merit. The Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Book Traders’ Association) paid tribute to Elisabeth Niggemann’s achievements by awarding her the plaque “Der Förderin des Buches” (Champion of the Book). Börsenverein director Karin Schmidt-Friedrich presented her with this, the Börsenverein’s highest honour, at the German National Library today.


The German National Library collects, catalogues and archives all printed and digital material published or distributed in Germany since 1913 along with foreign publications about Germany or in the German language. This includes all sheet music and music resources published in Germany. Its collections consist of more than 36 million media units; these and other services can be accessed in the reading rooms in Leipzig and Frankfurt am Main and in digital form in the World Wide Web where this is permitted by law.

The German National Library also holds a wealth of valuable special collections in the German Exile Archive 1933–1945 and the German Museum of Books and Writing. It regularly organises readings, exhibitions, presentations and concerts to draw attention to its treasures and promotes a culture of books, reading and music – with more than 36 million media units, around 220,000 visitors a year to its premises in Leipzig and Frankfurt am Main and a varied programme of first-class events.

Press spokesperson: Stephan Jockel / presse@dnb.de

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