Founded in 1456/1604, the University Library of Greifswald is one of the oldest university libraries in Germany. After the university’s re-foundation as a Protestant alma mater, a contract for the delivery of scientific books, dating from 1604, is the first evidence for the existence of a university library functioning as a service-facility for all faculties.
From the time when Greifswald belonged to the Swedish empire (1648 to 1815) an extraordinarily huge and valuable collection of Scandinavian literature was collected. At this time important older collections of regional and Baltic scientists were acquired. In fact, from 1773 to 1815 the library held the legal deposit for Swedish prints (including present-day Finland and the Baltic states) and during the Prussian time of governance (1815 to 1945) the library was granted the privilege of legal deposit for the region of Pomerania. Thereby the special collection of Pomerania, another primary role of the library, was intensified. In addition, the improvement of the stock of literature won by special contracts between the library on one hand and regional academic societies on the other strengthened its local expertise.
Continually the library sustained its traditional emphasis towards the Scandinavian and Baltic region. In 1998, the University Library of Greifswald obtained the national duty of collecting literature and media of and about the Baltic countries. It now serves as a major information supplier in Baltic and Northern European Studies. Among its digital services it offers specialized resources through its Virtual Library Vifanord.