libraryThe UK is in the middle of an often acrimonious campaign by the leadership of its professional librarians’ association, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP), to rebrand the organization – which has attracted much derision by bending over backwards to avoid any reference to those fusty fuddy-duddy dinosaurs, libraries and librarians.

German libraries seem to have learned nothing from the example, however. As reported in the German press, five libraries across German-speaking Europe are shortly going to lead a pilot program until early 2014 to rebrand public library services under the catchy tag “BiblioFreak.” (See the poster illustrated at right.)

Library directors and managers of library networks in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (the so-called DACH countries), participating under the auspices of the global library cooperative OCLC, based the whole initiative on the success of the U.S. “Geek The Library” campaign—and ads for the DACH initiative do look very similar in concept, design, and even choice of colors. (See the screen grab below.)

The five libraries in the pilot project, Basel-Country in Switzerland, Graz in Austria, and Leverkusen, Mettmann, and Sommerda in Germany, will roll out banner ads and other materials developed by library services provider ekz, identifying “freaks” of various stripes, and inviting the public to respond with what they “freak” over.

Websites and social media will also be integrated into the campaign. If it succeeds, German-speaking readers could be invited to freak out across the entire DACH region from spring 2014.


The German press were a little skeptical about the transformation of “geek” from the U.S. original to “freak” in German—too redolent, it seems, of freakshows and other pejorative connotations.

There is not so much comment on anti-intellectualism, though, or on grating efforts to avoid the staid and the unhip, so perhaps the German designers really did get the mix right.

If the campaign gets picked up in French-speaking jurisdictions, will the slogan be “Le Freak”? You have to wonder …



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