Friday, September 29th, 2023

TinyCat’s September Library of the Month: DANK Haus German American Cultural Center

I had the pleasure of interviewing a wonderful cultural center for TinyCat’s Library of the Month, the DANK Haus German American Cultural Center based out of Chicago. Cultural Director Sarah Matthews was kind enough to field my questions this month. She didn’t hesitate to give much praise to volunteer librarian Chris Graves, who spends time every week helping out at the library! Here’s what they shared about their work:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”? 

The DANK Haus German American Cultural Center’s mission “is to preserve and promote German culture, heritage, and language through maintaining a center consisting of a museum, art gallery, library, and language school, and organizing educational and social programming focusing on and emphasizing the history, traditions, and contributions of Germans and German Americans.” The DANK Haus library is one important element of our center, and features a variety of German literature, both fiction and nonfiction. The books in our library are written in German and accommodate young adult and adult readers.

Tell us some other interesting things about how your library supports the community.

Another aspect of the DANK Haus is our school, or Kinderschule, where we offer children’s classes and adult language classes, and our library has the opportunity and ability to directly support our school. While the library on our fourth floor contains our young adult and adult literature, our children’s books are located on the third floor where the school classrooms are, so students can have these resources readily available to them. However, you do not need to be enrolled in the school to use our library! Anyone is welcome to not only visit the library, but check out books when interested.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

I love that our collection is tailored to a wide range of genres and reading levels. We offer books for a younger audience such as Schöneli und Schlau, which is a short chapter book that features small illustrations. I also appreciate our selection of cookbooks in German, like Brot und Brötchen. This way readers can not only explore the German language, but German culture, as well. Lastly, I am glad we have a nice selection of German language, grammar, and vocabulary books on hand for people to use, especially since a portion of our visitors and members are learning German through our school.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

Currently, our in person engagement in the library is low. Groups pre-COVID-19 pandemic regularly used the space for library and language related events, but establishing that type of gathering has been difficult to accomplish again. DANK Haus would love to establish more regular, consistent hours of operation for the library, and offer more events in our space to allow for a wider audience to be reached and for our library resources to be used more frequently!

What’s your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

I really appreciate the ease and accessibility TinyCat offers. Especially for people who maybe don’t frequent library cataloging systems and online databases often, TinyCat’s cataloging system is easy to use, and people with varying technological skill sets can effectively search for what they are looking for. On that note, however, Chris, our weekly volunteer librarian at the center suggested one improvement could be to add a help link to show people how to search for books using the catalog, just in case visitors prefer to learn from specific, written instructions.

That’s a great suggestion. We have a Help page for patrons here, in the Help Wiki, but perhaps we should automatically show that within TinyCat. You can always link to it from your Homepage, if you’d like. I hope this helps!

Want to learn more about DANK Haus?

Visit their website at, and explore their full TinyCat collection here.

To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat


Leave a Reply