For all Fellows and guests, the Wissenschaftskolleg always proves to be a minor wonder of the research world: uncomplicated, splendidly organized, suffused with a friendly spirit and a congenial climate, a world of short distances and rapid help. A centerpiece of this paradise is the library, which functions with breathtaking, frictionless perfection, in all analog and digital realms. There, no wish is too remote, no desire too absurd, no question too complicated. And everything always proceeds not only silently, but also at almost uncanny speed. Actually, it ought to be a site with a hectic pace and bustling activity – and it is the exact opposite, a refuge of calm, concentration, and helpfulness. The furor of the digital age often lets us forget what an enriching experience it can be to sit in a library, to work, to read. The Weiße Villa constantly reminds us of this.
And, as always, things don’t simply function because they just happen to “be there”. Every frictionless procedure requires the greatest professionalism, great effort, helpful attentiveness – and incessant patience. Sonja Grund assumed the leadership of the library on September 1, 2009 – and transposed its good spirit into the epoch of electronic media and digitalization. And she did it equally skillfully and sensitively. This may be a characteristic trait of the art historian, who earned her doctorate in 2006 in Berlin with a dissertation on Neapolitan nobles’ chapels. The study bears the beautiful title “Teatri della Gloria”, which somehow fits the Wiko library, too, a teatro della gloria of its very own kind.
Sonja was especially closely tied to the Fellows’ Club, having assumed the post of its Secretary from Summer 2014 to Summer 2017 in a phase of organizational transition. After leaving the “active” office, passing it on to Vera Kempa, she still kept an intense interest in the Fellows’ Club’s doings. That naturally had to do with her field of activity, because in the library she always had to do with all the Fellows, with their sometimes challenging wishes, and with the needs of their projects. And in this, she was always not only extremely helpful, but also an interested, involved listener.
In the fall of 2020, Sonja took on a new professional challenge at the State Library of Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel – the place that has become the center of her life and of her family’s life. Halensee and Förde are the greatest possible contrast, and so are the comfortable Kolleg and the hustle and bustle of a large state library. The Fellows’ Club has a lot to thank Sonja for – and so we wish her all the best for her new start. It goes without saying that all the members of the Fellows’ Club would be delighted if Sonja expressed her attachment to the Kolleg and the Fellows by attending our future meetings. She is cordially invited to do so – and certainly need not make the journey to the Spree by ship.