The Publishing Trap goes to Germany!

Jane and Fabian Franke at Bibliothekarteg 107

Last week was another exciting stop on the UK Copyright Literacy 2018 tour. I headed out to Berlin for the annual German Library conference – Bibliothekartag 107, which sees around 4000 German librarians come together for a festival of all things library related. It’s open to all library sectors and has a huge sponsor exhibition as well as many parallel sessions. There was a lot of sessions that sounded really topical, on copyright (there have been recent updates to German copyright law) as well as open access and open science. I was intrigued to find out how German university libraries are managing without a deal to get access to Elsevier titles – it seems they do still have access to the journals, and interestingly Elsevier were prominently sponsoring the event.

As I can’t speak German I was a little limited in what I was able to attend unfortunately, but I did dip in to a few sessions and chat to lots of people during the breaks. I was also delighted to be invited to speak to the German Information Literacy (Informationskompetenz) group, and to present a session on copyright literacy / urheberrechtskompetenz. I’m really grateful to Fabian Franke who invited both me and Chris. Sadly Chris couldn’t make it but I was particularly excited as it meant there was an opportunity to meet the team who have been translating the Publishing Trap into German. Four people have been working on the German translation and Chris and I have been liaising with them now for quite a few months.

Before Christmas, Cagla Bacaksiz came to see me at City, she is a library school students at Hanover and wanted to talk to

Die Publikationsfalle

me about information literacy, however during the conversation she mentioned she had heard I’d made a game. We ended up discussing the Publishing Trap and when she returned to Germany she got in touch saying she and her professor were very keen to translate it. Meanwhile around the same time we were contacted by Professor Ellen Euler from Potsdam, professor of open access and open data who also wanted to translate the game. Essentially we put the two teams in touch, and Ellen, working with her student Dorothea, liaised with Cagla and her professor to translate (and slightly adapt) the Publishing Trap. They have adapted the original characters giving them German names and making their interests more culturally specific (Misha for example is called Melda and instead of studying gangs in south east London she studies gangs in West Berlin. I am also delighted that Brian, now called Benjamin, still has an allotment!)

L-R – Jane, Ellen Euller, Dorothea Strecker, Cagla Bacaksiz

The session I ran was therefore extra special as it was the first time I had met the German team and they had finished their work and were able to launch the game at the end of my talk! I spoke about the copyright literacy research we’ve been undertaking in the UK, starting with the survey of librarians Chris and I ran back in 2014. I talked about the follow up research on librarians’ experiences of copyright and developments such as the Copyright Card Game. I also referenced the international copyright literacy community which has formed following the survey. Germany are a little late to the party and are just running the copyright literacy survey now, but our German colleagues are keen to find out more about levels of awareness and confidence of copyright in libraries and cultural institutions. My slides from the session are here and it was great (if a little challenging!) to run a playtest of the Publishing Trap simultaneously in English and German. I discovered that Germans love board games and also that there is a really huge interest in open science and open access so, rather like David Hasselhoff, we suspect the Publishing Trap (or Die Publikationsfalle) could end up big in Germany!

We’ll be releasing the German edition from our website very shortly under the same CC Licence. We are keen to work with other countries who might want to translate and adapt the game. It’s proved to be a really useful way of understanding some of the differences between how open access works in Germany compared to the UK, with the German funding councils not viewing hybrid journals (where individual articles in a traditional journal can be made open through APC payments) as open access. This contrasts with the situation in the UK and I think means the Germans favour a more pure more of open access. I hope we might have a blog post about this soon from a former UK librarian, Jenny Dellasalle, now working in Berlin on open access.

Bibliothekarteg was fantastic to get the opportunity to take the concept of copyright literacy to Germany and also to launch a German version of our game. Thanks Fabian, thanks Ellen, Cagla and Dorothea and watch this space for the release of the files.


  1. Congratulations! I’m so happy for your success with The Publishing Trap! You truly deserve it! I would love to translate the game to Spanish.


    1. Hi Eva – we have a couple of other people interested in translating the game into Spanish as well. But we are definitely keen to work on other international versions. I hope we see you next week in Edinburgh and can discuss it then?


      1. Hi, it sounds excellent. Yes, I look forward seeing you again. I’m attending the Repository Fringe so I will have to miss your Monday afternoon session, but I will see you there on Tuesday morning!


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