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.
To get a first overview about the libraries and scene in Germany:
- Portals to the Past and to the Future – Libraries in Germany / by Jürgen Seefeldt, Ludger Syré – published by Bibliothek & Information Deutschland e.V. (BID), with a foreword by Heinz-Jürgen Lorenzen. 5th unrevised edition, Georg-Olms-Verlag, 2021, ISBN 978-3-487-15563-0
The website of the Goethe-Institute hat a seperate library section and may also give a good orientation about the German library scene.
Germany’s association for library and information professionals BIB („Berufsverband Information Bibliothek“) publishes a monthly journal for members.
Labelled „BuB – Forum Bibliothek und Information“ (Forum Library and Information), this journal provides English summaries of its most interesting articles. We have been permitted to publish these summaries as
- Current Topics here for information of international colleagues.
Other up to date discussions happen during the yearly annual library conferences, the special library conferences and many other national and international events:
- Libraries in the digital transformation, places of participation and social cohesion. Videos and presentations of the 2nd national conference about library and politics in Germany, held 26th March 2021
State of the art-discussions are also held in various mailing lists for special interests. The most famous one is InetBib (Internet in Libraries) which runs since 1994 in German. You may register or search the archive.
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. In 2021 BI-International startet a new programme to fund attendances in virtual conferences.
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 in Frankfurt am Main and Leipzig, but not in Berlin, the state 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
- ZBMed – Leibniz Information Centre for Life Sciences
- ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics
- Research Libraries of the Max-Planck-Society in Germany
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)