Skip to main content

Bavarian State Library

picture of the library

Treasure house of scholarship – Modern information centre

With holdings comprising of approximately 9 million volumes and 90,000 manuscripts, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is one of the most important collections of sources on an international level, a first-class destination not only for scholars but reaching people from all over the world.


The library was founded in 1558, by Duke Albrecht V, and quickly grew to become the largest court library in Germany. In the year 1803, it was expanded by two valuable acquisitions. Firstly, the extremely rich court library of the Electors Palatine was transferred from Mannheim to Munich. Secondly, books and manuscripts from monasteries dissolved during secularisation and from secular territories brought under Bavarian rule, the heritage of a thousand-year-long history, were integrated into the Munich library. As a result, the court library of the Wittelsbach family became one of the most comprehensive collections in Europe. With regard to manuscripts and early printed books, this is still true today.


Current acquisitions cover a broad range of subjects, from publications in the humanities, social sciences and economics to a well-structured collection of scientific and medical journals. A special emphasis is placed on classical studies, history and music as well as the regions of Eastern and South Eastern Europe, the Middle and Far East and East Asia. The library maintains the second-largest pool of printed and electronic journals in Europe. Since 1663, copyright law has ensured that two copies of every item printed in Bavaria enter the collection. The library, however, is not merely concerned with increasing its holdings of printed books, but also serves as a leading centre of innovation in the area of electronic information and digital media.


The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek fulfils a wide range of tasks. On a local level in the region of Munich, it plays an important role in the provision of literature to research institutions in universities and beyond. As a central state library, it maintains documents and archives the cultural heritage and supplies literature to the scientific community of Bavaria. In shared responsibility with the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek in Frankfurt/Main and Leipzig, the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin and other libraries, it acts as part of a virtual German National Library, a function for which no single institution exists in Germany. The library’s main tasks in this respect concern manuscripts and books printed before 1700 as well as current research publications from abroad. All aspects of the library’s work have an international dimension. It is involved in numerous international projects and in partnerships with other libraries world-wide. In fact, four-fifths of all book purchases are made on foreign markets.