Navigation and service

About us

Germany's history as a federation encouraged the development of a multitude of well-stocked libraries. However, as no library was specifically charged with collecting all printed materials published in Germany or, indeed, was provided with the financial means to do so, about a third of these printed materials is not held by German libraries. Not until 1913 was the Deutsche Bücherei opened in Leipzig in order to comprehensively collect all literature published in Germany (since 2006 German National Library). The earlier inadequate acquisition practices were more acutely felt when study and research expanded in the second half of the 20th century, and the demand for source literature has continued to increase ever since.

In his study Buch, Bibliothek und geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung (Göttingen 1983), Bernhard Fabian propounded his idea of a distributed national library to fill the considerable lacunae in German printed literature collections. He proposed that five German libraries should each be allotted responsibility for a particular historical period and selected those libraries already holding the most substantial collections for the corresponding period as being best equipped for the task.

In 1989, the libraries currently responsible for the period 1450 - 1912 united to form the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sammlung Deutscher Drucke with the goal of coordinating the collection of missing literature published in German-speaking countries. For five years, financial support was provided by the Volkswagen-Stiftung; since then the project has had to be financed through the funding bodies of the respective libraries. The German National Library has participated in the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Sammlung Deutscher Drucke since 1995 within the scope of its legally-defined acquisitions policy.

Whereas the libraries covering the periods up to 1912 add to their collections retrospectively, the German National Library is responsible for continuously acquiring current literature and cataloging it in the German national bibliography.

Experience has shown that the idea of a decentralized, chronologically subdivided collection has worked very well. The coordinated acquisitions policies combine with modern information and communications technology to further the growth of a virtual national library.

Last update: 13.05.2014

This Page

Schriftbanner mit KIM Kompetenzzentrum Interoperable Metadaten