Bayerische Landesbibliothek Online
Das Portal zu Geschichte und Kultur des Freistaats

Sources and Representations on the History of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek

 Ansicht der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek um 1850 (Lithographie) View of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek around 1850 (lithography)


The module "Sources and representations on the history of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek" is intended for collecting materials showing the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in different phases of its history. It is not least intended to foster research that makes the library itself the object of scholarly examination.




Development of the library

The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek goes back to the court library of the Wittelsbach dynasty. It was founded in 1558, when Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria (1550-1579) could acquire the library of the humanist Johann Albrecht Widmanstetter (1506-1557), who had died the year before. In 1571 the library of Johann Jakob Fugger (1516-1575), was added, which also contained the book collection of Hartmann Schedel (1440-1514). After the library's first flourishing during this time, the end of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th century in particular brought a time of standstill. In the era of Enlightenment the library received a new impetus when the librarian Felix Andreas von Oefele (1706-1780) 1746 was employed in 1746 and the Bavarian Academy of Sciences was founded in 1759.

Around 1800 the court library was expanded enormously, when the collections of books and manuscripts from the secularised Bavarian monasteries were taken over starting in 1802/03, and the Mannheim court library was integrated in 1803/04. For one century the court library was the largest library in Germany. In the years following the massive expansion Johann Andreas Schmeller (1785-1852) and Martin Schrettinger (1772-1851) started cataloguing the collections König Ludwig I. (1826-1848) commissioned the erection of the new library building in the Ludwigstrasse in Munich, which took place from 1832 to1843. The building still houses the library today.

After 1900 the library, which was renamed "Bayerische Staatsbibliothek" in 1919, developed into a modern library for public scholarly use. A deep cut came with the Second World War, when large parts of the library building were destroyed by the air raids of the years 1943-45, and more than 500,000 volumes (around one quarter of the collections) were lost.

Today the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is the central state and repository library of Bavaria, and at the same time one of the most important academic libraries of the world.

For further information please consult the website of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek:


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User guide

The digitised books are available in the form of browsable files, indexed by tables of contents.

Information on the project

On the occasion of the library's 450th anniversary in 2008 the Bayerische Landesbibliothek Online documents the development of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in a small focal point. The documentation includes both central works on the library's history and sources on its development and on the everyday work in the library. This is complemented by a number of amateur films of the 1960s.

Some of the volumes digitised within this framework belong to the personal collection of Emil Gratzl (1877-1957). The Orientalist and librarian worked for the Staatsbibliothek from 1899 onward, and from 1923 to his retirement in 1938 directed the acquisition department with great skill.

The project has been available online since January 2008.


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