Elisabeth served as the Director General of the German National Library from 1999 until her retirement in 2019. She holds a PhD in Biology, and has worked in academic libraries since 1987.
She has worked in numerous national and international committees. In 2010 she was a member of the Comité des Sages and from 2004 to 2012 member of the OCLC Board of Trustees. She is a member of the Conference of European National Librarians of which she was Chair of from 2005 until 2011. From 2007 to 2011 and again since 2017 she is Chair of the Europeana Foundation. Dr. Niggemann is member of the Senate Evaluation Committee of the Leibniz- Gemeinschaft and member of the Senate of the German Research Foundation. She also is an editor of the Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie.