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Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is one of the largest academic libraries in the German-speaking area. It was founded in 1558 by Duke Albrecht Vth as the court library of the Wittelsbach family. Today, it is the central regional library of the Free State of Bavaria and a governmental sectoral agency for all matters relating to library services in Bavaria.

The library's holdings comprise 9 million volumes and excellent historical stocks, including one of the major collections of manuscripts world-wide, the largest collection of incunables (in terms of individual copies), numerous broadsides and blockbooks as well as c. 90.000 books and items printed in the 16 th century. Other handwritten and printed treasures are contained in various special collections, including maps, modern papers, autographs, printed music, bookplates, portraits, photographic archives and livres d'artistes.

The current acquisitions cover a broad range of German and international publications, more than 40.000 subscriptions to periodicals and a growing number of electronic media. The library collects publications from all countries and in all subjects, with the exception of technical literature and applied agricultural sciences. Special areas of collection are classical studies, history, music, Eastern Europe and East Asia and the Near East. The precious historical collections are continually supplemented and expanded.

As an eminent European library, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is used intensively by scholars from all over the world, either in person or through written enquiries and document delivery. The library maintains a wide range of international contacts and is involved in a wide variety of library cooperation projects, such as CERL (HPB), Europeana, IFLA, LIBER (TEL), MICHAEL, RISM and RidIM, USTC, WDL.

The period 1450 - 1600 and printed music until 1800

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek has been assigned responsibility for the earliest phase of the programme Sammlung Deutscher Drucke, e.g. the period 1450 - 1600 and printed music until 1800. Thus, the library collects literature produced in a particularly pivotal phase: the onset of modern times in Europe.

The books printed at that time reflect the important movements of humanism, the protestant Reformation and the Counter-Reformation and do cument the development of arts and sciences, the exploration of the world and technical innovations. Last but not least, the imprints of the 15 th and 16 th centuries are themselves examples of a new medium: the printed book.

In careful expansion of the existing holdings of the library, a wide range of books printed in this period is purchased for the Sammlung Deutscher Drucke 1450 - 1600, such as incunabula and early illustrated works, the earliest printed music and rare personal publications, humanist and vernacular books, pamphlets and travel reports, medical and scientific literature.

Many of the newly-acquired books are extremely rare and frequently have not been held by any other German library before; many have become accessible to scholarly research for the first time thanks to the purchase for the Sammlung Deutscher Drucke.

Cataloguing and access

The oldest and rarest printed books published from 1501 onwards are accessible via the online catalogues of the BSB and the Bavarian Union Catalogue (Gateway Bayern). In addition, specific segments are recorded in special databases, which contain more detailed descriptions and in some instances also digital images of the items.

For the 16 th and 17 th centuries, these are the Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachbereich erschienenen Drucke des 16. Jahrhunderts VD 16 (set up with support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek and continued there since 2000 with local resources), the Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachraum erschienenen Drucke des 17. Jahrhunderts VD 17 (set up with support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft under leadership of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, continued since 2009 under leadership of the libraries in Berlin, Munich and Wolfenbüttel which are responsible for the continuous development of VD 17) and since 2009 the Verzeichnis der im deutschen Sprachraum erschienenen Drucke des 18. Jahrhunderts VD 18 (set up with support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft under leadership of the Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek Sachsen-Anhalt, Halle).

Since February 2006, those holdings of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek which were printed before the Reformation (1501 - 1517) and are recorded in VD 16 are being digitized with support by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Within the framework of the campaign for "mass digitization" initiated by the DFG, all books printed between 1518 and 1600 recorded in VD 16 will be digitized from May 2007.

All editions printed with movable type in the 15 th century held by the library are recorded in a special catalogue of incunabula (BSB-Ink, available online with digital images) as well as in the Inkunabel-Census für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Incunabula Short Title Catalogue Germany), the extensive holdings of block books in 14 Bavarian collections will be described and high-quality digital reproductions will be produced to make them publicly available, broadsides printed after 1501 are recorded in the database Einblattdrucke der Frühen Neuzeit (with digital images of all broadsides).

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek hosts the German working group of the Répertoire International des Sources Musicales (RISM) and of the Répertoire Internationale d'Iconographie Musicale (RidIM).

All items purchased for the Sammlung Deutscher Drucke 1450 - 1600 (printed music until 1800) are added to the bibliographic resources mentioned above. Thus, new acquisitions are made available to users in Germany and abroad.


Dr. Claudia Bubenik
Bayerische Staatsbibliothek
Alte und Seltene Drucke
Ludwigstraße 16
D-80328 München

Phone: +49 89 28638-2261
Fax: +49 89 28638-2266

Last update: 01.03.2012

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