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Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz

The Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin is an universal research library. Its distinguished historical and modern collections and its diversified services are available to the general public as well as to the specialised scholar. With holdings of more than 11 million volumes the Staatsbibliothek ranks among the world's largest libraries.

Bearing responsibility for various central functions on the national level, the library plays an active part in the library system of the Federal Republic of Germany. It is, for instance, responsible for several national core collection programs supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. As a member of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sammlung Deutscher Drucke, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin is in charge of the years 1871 to 1912 (for maps and newspapers: 1801-1912; for musical scores: 1801-1945).

Other important activities of national importance include the union catalogue of autographs Kalliope and the international Union Catalogue of Incunabula (Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke). Moreover, the library collaborates in the creation of the retrospective national bibliographical catalogues for the 16th and the 17th centuries (VD16 and VD17 respectively). Furthermore, the electronic German Union Catalogue of Periodicals (Zeitschriftendatenbank) is compiled in Berlin.

After the re-unification of Germany the two institutions succeeding the former Prussian State Library, i.e. the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek and the Staatsbibliothek Preußischer Kulturbesitz, were re-united on January 1, 1992, under the name of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz. A new and sound concept for its future was developed: On the basis of the combined holdings of early printed books, manuscripts and autographs, musical scores and maps as well as the collection of children's books and juvenile literature, its branch Unter den Linden will be developed into a historical research library. The library's branch at Potsdamer Straße will offer its services as a modern universal and academic library. It houses also the Eastern European, the Oriental and the East Asian departments. Two more branches are part of the Staatsbibliothek as well: the Newspaper Department, temporarily housed in premises at Westhafen, and the Bildarchiv Preußischer Kulturbesitz, located at Märkisches Ufer.

The period from 1871 - 1912 (Maps and newspapers: 1801-1912; Musical scores: 1801-1945)

Owing to the enormous book production of that time, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin has to shoulder an enormous task - despite an apparently short period of coverage of less than half a century.

Already in the first decade of its collection activities in this field the Berlin State Library acquired some 35.000 books, many of which could not be traced in any other German library before, e.g.

  • source material documenting the history of technology and industry, above all many occasional imprints published by firms and companies, which often were published only in limited editions and never previously and systematically collected;
  • ephemeral works from almost any field of knowledge and daily life, which hither had at best been collected selectively by any of the great universal libraries;
  • works of light fiction, which - although published in considerable editions - have traditionally suffered under neglect in most of the great universal and academic library collections;
  • rare children's books and juvenile literature, including school textbooks;
  • a great variety of nineteenth- and early twentieth bibliophile works illustrating impressively contemporary trends in typography and book design.

The Berlin State Library will continue its efforts in retrospective collection development with undiminished intensity, in order to make available to scholars throughout the world the German book production of that time in as complete a collection as possible.


All works acquired for the Sammlung Deutscher Drucke are catalogued according to high-level professional standards. Catalogue data are available via the library's online catalogue, via the electronic union catalogue GVK and - in case of periodicals - also via the electronic union catalogue of periodicals (Zeitschriftendatenbank, ZDB).

In addition all these works are catalogued according to the complex subject classification of the library's Old Subject Catalogue (ARK). Thus, a comprehensive subject catalogue of the German book production between 1871 and 1912 is emerging step by step.

The classification system underlying the library's historical subject catalogue reflects the world picture of the sciences and humanities of the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when it was developed and further refined. This is why even today it is particularly suited to classify the antiquarian acquisitions of the Sammlung Deutscher Drucke and open up precise subject access points to the specialised scholar.


Annette Wehmeyer
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Abteilung Historische Drucke
Unter den Linden 8
D - 10117 Berlin

Phone: +49 30 266-436600
Fax: +49 30 266-336600

Last update: 01.03.2012

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