Information on Libraries in Germany
This page aims to provide a selection of basic information on the German library landscape in English. Linking to existing content from various institutions, it will be continuously expanded to cover topics such as the structure of the German library system, current issues, libraries of national importance, library education and opportunities for study trips.
The following resources provide concise and accessible introductions to what library life looks like in Germany:
- The Library Landscape in Germany – An Overview, a website of the Goethe-Institut
- Portals to the past and to the future: Libraries in Germany / Jürgen Seefeldt and Ludger Syré
Published by Bibliothek und Information Deutschland – the Federal Union of German Library and Information Associations (BID) 4th rev.ed. 2017
- Engelbert Plassmann, Hermann Rösch, Jürgen Seefeldt, Konrad Umlauf: Libraries and the Information Society in Germany. (English summary)
As part of its remit as Germany’s international body for cultural relations, the Goethe-Institut maintains a network of libraries around the world and engages in the professional dialogue between the German and the host countries‘ library scene. To support this work, it runs a series of topical feature articles on current issues in German libraries on its website. The popular professional journal „BuB – Forum Bibliothek & Information“ provides summaries of topical articles in English, too. In addition, a collection of best practice examples explores a current issue of high importance for German libraries, ie library services for refugees.
Bibliothek & Information International (Library & Information International) is the Federal Union of German Library and Information Associations‘ body for international professional exchange. In addition to funding German librarians to visit their colleagues abroad, it also provides travel grants and advice to international Library and Information Services experts interested in a professional visit to the land between the rivers Rhine and Oder.
Due to its history, Germany’s library infrastructure, as its cultural, economic and political set-up in general, is highly devolved. This is particularly present in its network of libraries with supra-regional and/or national functions. These include a number of State Libraries referring to states much older than today’s Germany, as well as Central Libraries and a National Library located everywhere but in the current capital. In addition, library work in Germany is supported and promoted by various institutions and organisations. A selection follows below.
- German National Library
- Bavarian State Library
- Berlin State Library
- TIB – German National Library of Science and Technology
- ZBW – German National Library of Economics (Leibniz Information Centre for Economics)
- The National IFLA Committee Germany
- German Library Association (institutional members)
- Association of German Librarians (personal members)
Traditionally, the qualification of librarians was part of the system of public servant education in several of Germany’s states. Nowadays, however, most library and information qualifications are integrated into normal Higher Education institutions in a number of German cities.
- Berlin: Berlin School of Library and Information Science
- Cologne: Cologne University of Applied Sciences
- Hamburg: Hamburg University of Applied Sciences
- Leipzig: Leipzig University of Applied Sciences
- Potsdam: Faculty of Information Sciences of the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam
- Stuttgart: Stuttgart Media University
In addition to some stunning gems from the past, Germany features a range of inspiring modern building projects both in the public and the academic library field. In recent years, growing attention has been paid by both the professional community and the public to the (re)development of green library buildings.
- German libraries in the database www.librarybuildings.info by NAPLE (National Authorities on public Libraries in Europe)