Up until now, I have been posting my recaps of the Germany Parliamentary Library Study Tour in chronological order. In this post, I am going to jump around a little bit. The group visited two locations of the Max Planck Society (MPG – the “G” stands for “Gesellschaft”) during our trip, so I am going to combine both visits into one post.
Now, if the name of the Max Planck Society sounds familiar, you might have read a recent report about how it recently ended its contract with Springer for the publisher’s electronic journal service because it felt it was being overcharged for access. MPG Vice President Kurt Mehlhorn said:
“Even at the very last minute the Springer publishing house had not been prepared to lower its inflated prices. The MPG therefore had had no other option but to terminate the contract.”
I wonder what Elsevier thinks about this.
Anyway, while in Hamburg, we met with Dr. Holger Knudsen, the library director at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law. Later, in Munich, we met with Dr. Peter Weber and Ines Saler of the library at the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law.
Weber, the head of the library, began our meeting in Munich with an overview of the MPG and its place in what he referred to as the German research landscape. The Society is comprised of 80 institutes spread out over Germany (with one Dutch and two Italian locations). It primarily focuses on science and technology research, but it also has institutes focusing on law and other humanities-related projects. Each institute is run independently and determines its own research topics and research projects.
Weber said that the institutes are built around the topics its researchers set rather than having a set topic and adding researchers interested in that topic. This means that the focus of an institute can change as new members are added. He gave as an example the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, which was originally the Institute for History until March of 2007.
For more about the Society and its history, check out the MPG Wikipedia entry, which I can confirm with my own notes is accurate.