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The berlin state library

Posted April 10th, 2012 at 03:50 AM by Stephy


It is the largest and most important academic research library in the German speaking world.

Among the more famous items in its collection is a Gutenberg Bible, the autographs of Goethe, the world’s largest collection of Johann Sebastian Bach’s and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s manuscripts, and the original score of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

The entire holdings – some three million books and other material at the time – had to be brought to safety in 30 monasteries, castles and shut-down mines during WW II.

The division of Germany during the post-war years and following decades had an adverse effect also on the library’s holdings: After 1945, only some of the collections were returned to the original site on Unter den Linden in Berlin (East). The by far greater part of relocated holdings was initially brought to West Germany and as of the late 1970s stored in the new building on Potsdamer Straße in Berlin (West).

Many important items from the original collection are still located in Poland and territories of the former Soviet Union - declared as war reparations, sometimes controversially - such as the Berlinka Art Collection.

Since 1992, the reunited Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz provides its services at both its sites Unter den Linden 8 and Potsdamer Straße 33 in the district of Mitte.

The collection
  • More than 11 million books
  • More than 200,000 rare books
  • 4,442 incunabula
  • 18,300 occidental manuscripts (including parts of the Nibelungenlied)
  • 42,170 oriental manuscripts (including early Ming block prints)
  • 250,000 autographs (including Lessing, Goethe, Kleist)
  • 66,350 music autographs
  • 1,400 estate archives (including the Mendelssohn family)
  • 460,000 editions of sheet music
  • 1.1 million maps, atlases and globes (including the world’s largest bound atlas)
  • 38,000 subscription periodicals and monographic series
  • 180,000 early newspaper volumes
  • 22,900 printed and magazines
  • 24,400 licensed electronic newspapers
  • 4,700 databases
  • 2.3 million microfiches and microfilms
  • 13.5 million images at the Prussian Heritage Image Archive
  • Among the library’s most precious treasures are the Psalter of Ludwig the German (German: Psalter Ludwigs des Deutschen) dating from the 9th century and an elaborately adorned copy of the Gutenberg Bible.

The oldest handwritten book in the collection is a Coptic codex of the biblical Book of Proverbs dating from the 3rd century; the oldest printed book is an 8th century Buddhist text from Japan, the Hyakumantó Darani.

The library also has an extensive collection of important music manuscripts, including 80% of all the autographs of Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the largest collection in the world. Famous examples include Bach’s Mass in B Minor, the St. Matthew and St. John Passions, and nearly all of Mozart’s operas.

In addition to Ludwig van Beethoven’s 4th, 5th, and 8th Symphonies, the Library also holds the autograph score, autograph leaves, and historic records of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, which was added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register in 2001.

Other notable items are a 1491 Map of Germany by Nikolaus von Kues, the Atlas of The Great Elector (German: Atlas des Großen Kurfürsten), the Jahangir-Album from around 1600, and the largest Hebrew Bible and the largest parchment Torah scroll in the world.
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Total Comments 2


  1. Old Comment
    irishcrusader95's Avatar
    another great post Stephy, i was in berlin a few years ago for a school trip but we didn't have a chance to walk around much. i'll be sure to visit the library the next time i'm there, my german should be good enough by then that i can actually read the books.
    Posted April 12th, 2012 at 04:44 PM by irishcrusader95 irishcrusader95 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    Stephy's Avatar
    Let me know when you have the chance to visit, I'll gladly show you around, also we can get in for less since I have a Studen pass hahaha 8)
    Posted April 18th, 2012 at 02:53 PM by Stephy Stephy is offline

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